Raising Chickens in Cuba

Abuelo digs out some eggs from the nest of a free-roosting chicken. This man was probably my favorite person we met in Cuba.

He has around 65 birds: 1 rooster, 15 adult hens, 3 turkeys that he duped a chicken into raising, and the rest mixed sex juveniles and chicks.

He’s been breeding chickens for decades and selects for two things: good mothers and good layers. If he has plenty of fertilized eggs from good mothers, he will eat or sell all of the fertilized eggs from the good layers. But if he is short on eggs and has a hen who is a bad mother but a prolific layer, he will occasionally give her eggs to a better mother to raise, in hopes he will have an excellent layer in the next generation. He also said as soon as the juvenile males start fighting with one another, it’s time to eat.

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