I’ve wanted to raise chickens for years, but we live in a suburban neighborhood on 1/8th of an acre and to be honest I didn’t know we could legally keep chickens in town. I found out a few months ago that we actually can have chickens, but are limited to 6 hens and zero roosters.
I must say, I am not a pandemic homesteader. I didn’t rush out to buy chickens and plant a garden because of COVID-19 and the uncertainty surrounding it. With that said, it’s not a bad idea to start homesteading wherever you are! Buy those chickens, plant those seeds, become semi- or fully- self-sufficient.
Here are 10 great reasons to get yourself some backyard chickens:
1. Fresh eggs
Need I say more? This is the #1 reason we decided to raise our own hens. Fresh eggs are the best eggs. And there’s no unnecessary trip to the grocery store when you decide to bake a cake at 9pm on a Tuesday. However, I wouldn’t recommend making hard boiled eggs out of fresh eggs – let them sit for a few days to a week else you may find yourself unable to get the shells off easily!
As a homesteader, you will probably end up composting at some point. Chicken poo is a great additive to your compost bin and will add life to your garden. It is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Throw it in there, wood chips (bedding) and all and in a few months you will have a pile of “black gold” for your garden. A few chickens should provide enough fertilizer to feed your lawn and garden for an entire year.
Do you know what is in your chicken feed or where your eggs came from? Happy chickens are healthy chickens and produce healthy eggs. Typically, they are higher in Omega-3, Vitamin E, and have lower cholesterol than store bought eggs. You’ll be able to tell they’re healthier by their orange yolks – no more pale yellow! The shells are also thicker and stronger and are a great addition to your garden. You can also feed the healthy shells back to your chickens to boost their calcium intake.
4. Organic, non-gmo, etc.
They will eat what you feed them. Most factory farmed chickens are fed a diet high in GMO foods like corn. There are brands of feed you can buy that are completely organic and gmo-free. Whether you raise meat chickens or layer hens, what you feed them will end up determining the quality of the food they provide for your family. You are what you eat – and that holds true for chickens too.
No matter what happens in this world, you will have a source of protein to fuel your body.
You won’t have to rely on the grocery store – and with all the shortages right now at least your chickens will give you piece of mind that you’ll be able to find a dozen eggs when you need them. Typically, they will slow down or stop laying over the winter months, but if you find yourself desperate you can encourage laying eggs by providing them with 14 hours of light inside their coop.
6. Pest control
Chickens love to eat bugs. Spiders, beetles, grasshoppers, ticks, centipedes… They’ll even eat those pesky flies. If you let them free-range your yard, not only will they cut your grass (they love to eat grass!) but they’ll provide a natural solution to pest control without the use of pesticides.
If you choose to raise chickens for meat, you’ll only have to wait 7-9 weeks. If you have the space, calculate how much chicken you eat per year and buy yourself a deep freezer. My dad’s family raised chickens and said the process is very simple but you’ll need a fairly strong stomach to deal with the process.
Chickens are quite possibly the funniest little animals. As an added bonus, you will have hours of pure entertainment that doesn’t involve an xbox or television. Our children love looking at them and holding them and they just think they’re the cutest little things ever.
9. Easy to take care of
Give them food and fresh water daily, a place to run and a coop to sleep in. That’s all they need unlike our moody German Shephard Katie (love her!) who needs attention 24/7. There are some health issues you will need to be on the lookout for (like pasty butt when they’re chicks or becoming egg-bound when they’re older) but it’s nothing more than keeping an eye on your house pets and most of their health issues can be taken care of without the services of a veterinarian.
Ok, I made this one up. But really, they will eat all your table and kitchen scraps. There are a few things that they shouldn’t have, so just be careful what you are throwing out to them. Onions and garlic are common no no’s unless you want some really funky tasting eggs.
Do you have chickens? What is your #1 reason for deciding to raise them? Leave a comment below.