There are a lot of good reasons to keep backyard chickens. Some will be pretty obvious like having eggs to a supply of meat for various types of meals. However, there are other reasons that are interesting if you have space available for a few chickens on your property.
One of the best reasons to keep backyard chickens is for pest control. Chickens will eat grubs that hide in tall grass and keep insects from becoming a problem. These animals can also be a great way for you to keep weeds at bay. All you need to do is determine the types of chickens you want to raise.
Here are 10 great reasons to keep your own backyard chickens:
This is the obvious reason – you’ll have a supply of fresh eggs on hand. Not to mention the convenience, as you’ll have absolutely no need to get out of your pajamas and head to the store to make a fresh, healthy breakfast.
2.Organic & Non-GMO
Caged hens are fed a diet of corn, soy and cottonseed meals … three huge GMO crops. If you really take the old saying ‘you are what you eat’ to heart, then you’ll be wary of eggs which come from these hens. By keeping your own, you know exactly what they’re eating and can avoid feeding them engineered and antibiotic laden crops.
Did you know chickens have a great memory and can differentiate between over 100 human or animal faces? They love to play, they dream, they mourn for each other and they feel pain and distress. They also make great mothers – they talk to their chicks while still in the egg, and turn the eggs about 50 times a day.
The term ‘pecking order’ didn’t come out of nowhere – hens have an ordered social structure based on a hierarchy. If you make room for them in your back garden, you and your family will get to learn all about these fascinating creatures up close.
4.Save a Life
Be a hero and save ex-battery hens from the slaughterhouse. 300 million birds each year are crammed into cages that are far too small. Why not play a part in giving some a second chance? They’ll reward you with their protein rich eggs and companionship.
Maybe free chicken manure isn’t something to get too excited about, but if you’re proud of your garden it can work wonders. Chicken manure is actually classed as being one of the most desirable manures due to its high nutrient level. Utilizing this is an important part of sustainable and organic agriculture.
It’s estimated that having between 5 and 10 chickens should produce enough fertilizer to take care of your entire vegetable garden and yard for the year. It’s also great to add to your compost.
When you get your backyard chickens, you’ll have a great excuse to ditch the pesticides and chemical-laden bug killers. Your chickens will do that job for you. They eat pretty much any bug including beetles, slugs, ticks and grasshoppers.
Between a steady supply of fertilizer and a newly slug-free garden, your roses will never have looked so good.
7.A Source of Therapy
Move over cats and dogs, these beautiful creatures could be the next therapy animals! They’re already being used to help those with autism as well as the elderly.
Keeping chickens is seen as therapeutic for children on the autism spectrum by getting the kids involved in feeding and caring for the chickens, thereby promoting independent living skills.
They have also been used for patients with dementia and other psychiatric disorders. Because chickens are always moving around, pecking and socializing, they’re seen as calming.
8.Cut Down on Food Miles
We’ve all heard of food miles – the distance over which a food item is transported from producer to consumer. Well, you can’t cut down on this particular type of environmental impact much more than keeping a source of food in your own back garden.
As you also clock up miles getting waste foods away from you and to the landfill, it seems these useful creatures save you miles twice when they gobble up your table scraps too!
9.A Fun Hobby
What else would you get up to on a Sunday afternoon than spend time with your chicks? Sure, it might seem like an odd choice of pastime to some … but so is stamp collecting.
As hobbies go, it’s a pretty low-maintenance one and can be a lot more rewarding than making a jigsaw puzzle.
Yes, there are initial start-up costs. You’ll need to buy or build a chicken coop, ensure your new pets are kept safe from predators and invest in food and feeding equipment.
Once it’s all set up though, it’s relatively inexpensive to care for these quirky ladies. You’ll be cutting down on household waste (and garbage costs), you’ll have rich soil to grow your own crops, you won’t need to splurge on weed killer or insect repellent and, of course, you’ll get cheap organic eggs – which can sometimes be a little pricey in the store. Don’t forget the free therapy, companionship and amusement.
Before you Start Building a Chicken Coop…
…there are a few things you need to think about!
- These chickens will be totally dependent on you for food, shelter and safety.
- Predators are a serious issue for backyard hens.
- Accept that, over time, a chicken’s egg laying abilities will diminish.
- There is a 5% chance that your hen will turn out to be a rooster
- Yes, we said keeping hens can be cheap .. but it’s not free.