It may seem like raising chickens is an activity reserved for those with sprawling outdoor spaces, and fresh country air. However; you can actually start your own coop today, and with just a little effort you will be enjoying fresh eggs, compost, and a multitude of other benefits from your feathered friends. Here are just a few reasons you should start keeping chickens in your backyard.
Buying eggs from the grocery store can often feel like you’re gambling with your health and the health of your family. It is almost impossible to know the conditions that the laying hens were kept in and the various hormones they were injected with. When you buy a chick and raise it, you know exactly what you are feeding it and can enjoy fresh eggs without risking your health.
Also, fresh eggs are an excellent source of protein, Beta Carotene, Omega-3, and vitamins and are an excellent addition to any diet. Cook up a delicious omelet, scramble them and top with salt and pepper, or fry your eggs sunny side up.
If you have a compost bin and a garden, but don’t have chickens, you are missing out! It can often be difficult to find the right materials for your compost, but chicken litter can bring your soil to a whole new level. If you keep your chickens in a coop, you can collect their droppings easily and simply add them to your pile. Otherwise, fencing in an area of your garden and allowing chickens to till up and scratch the soil for a few days in the spring can help restore vital minerals to the ground ensure the success of your garden.
Though it may seem like dogs and cats are the only animals that enjoy cuddling or will jump affectionately into your arms, chickens are actually full of love for their humans. When you raise a hen from a young chick, you can develop a bond, and your chicken will often recognize you as their caretaker, running out to meet you at feeding time or following you through the garden during your daily tasks. Chickens are even being used as therapy pets along with dogs and cats.
Pest control, minus the chemicals
If you are like me, you hate the thought of using harsh, chemical-laden pesticides in your garden. It can often be difficult to find natural alternatives, however. Thankfully, chickens are an excellent method of reducing unwanted pests around your garden. Mosquitos, snails, flies, your backyard chickens will never turn down an opportunity to enjoy any yummy bug. Fence in an area around your garden and your chickens will monitor the perimeter, keeping watch over your precious crop.
Cut down on kitchen waste
This point is less essential if you already have a compost bin. But if you are unwilling to install a compost area, or simply don’t need the extra rich soil, you can give those same kitchen scraps to your hens along with their normal feed. Not only will this help you feel better about kitchen waste, such as peels, bread, beans, and even cooked pasta, it will also dramatically cut down on the amount that your chickens will need to be fed traditional feed.
Things to keep in mind before getting chickens:
You don’t need a rooster
Unless you want fertilized eggs to sell or desire to raise chicks from hatchlings, it is best to avoid buying a rooster. They are often incredibly territorial over their brood and can occasionally become aggressive. Plus, they tend to act as unwanted alarm clocks at 4:30 in the morning which may not win you any popularity contests in your neighborhood.
Be sure to check your laws
Many cities have laws regarding backyard chickens, so it is important to clarify this information before purchasing your flock. Also, be sure to check with your neighboorhood or HOA if you have one.
Chickens don’t lay all year
Though their production is high in the spring and summer months, chickens don’t naturally lay eggs all year round. In the fall and winter months, they will slow down and may lay as little as one egg per week. If you enjoy eggs daily, it is important that you seek an alternative source during these seasons.