Now that warmer weather is here, people can start thinking about adding on to their chicken flocks, or even creating a flock. More and more Americans have decided to keep backyard chickens, especially with the recent pandemic. So, why should you own backyard chickens? In this article, I’ll go through six great reasons to own a flock.
Most people raise chickens for their eggs, and that’s for several different reasons. Did you know that depending on the chicken breed, a female, called a hen, can lay 200-to-300 eggs a year? However, because chickens are social animals, one hen needs at least two other hens to keep her company. That means you can get well over 600 eggs per year. My family has over 25 chickens. We get a lot of eggs.
Here’s a fun fact about fresh eggs. Did you know that eggs don’t need to be kept in the fridge if they haven’t been washed? This is due to the outermost layer on an egg, called the bloom. The bloom’s purpose is to prevent bacteria from entering the egg. Once the egg is washed, the bloom is washed off. To stop bacteria from entering the now-defenseless egg, the egg must be put in the fridge.
Because eggs are collected from chickens every day, they’re as fresh as fresh can be, compared to commercial eggs. The eggs you buy at the store can be many months old. The idea that fresher tastes better definitely applies to eggs. A hen that is able to roam wherever she wants during the day, called free-ranging, will also eat more protein than a commercial hen. This will cause some of that protein to be transferred to her eggs, giving them a richer colored yolk, and that wonderful fresh taste.
Some people raise backyard chickens for the meat they provide. A designated meat chicken is different from the laying chickens that most people own. They are raised to grow faster and larger than a laying breed, but they don’t mature as fast. Most laying chickens will never get as big as the rotisserie chicken in the grocery store. People who own meat chickens all seem to agree that they’re not on the same intelligence level as laying breeds, which makes it difficult to get attached to them. It’s a fast farm-to-table scenario.
Chicken excrement may be smelly, but what fertilizer isn’t? Chicken poop is great for plants. If you have a garden, this might be very beneficial. In fact, dried chicken poop is even better for your garden than cow manure. Keep in mind that dumping fresh droppings on your plants is more harmful than beneficial though. To learn how to properly use chicken poop as a fertilizer, check out this site.
4. Easy Care
Chickens’ needs are few and basic. Just like humans and most other animals, hydration is even more important than food. They must have an ample supply of water. There are many commercial waterers that are readily available;all you have to do is fill them! Chickens’ water must be clear from mud and excrement, or they can contract diseases. Think of it this way: If it’s water you’d never drink, the chickens probably won’t want it.
They also need plentiful food. Chickens love to eat and will eat nearly anything in nature, as well as commercial feed and treats. Free-ranging your chickens can cut back on feed costs, since they’ll be foraging for plants and bugs a lot of the time.
5. Pest Control
Chickens are literally pest machines. They’ll happily gobble up ticks, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, and any other bug that strikes their fancy. This saves you many bug bites and spoiled plants in the garden. As a major bonus, some of the protein and nutrients in the critters chickens eat will be used in the eggs they lay, making the eggs even healthier.
6. Entertainment and Satisfaction
Many commercial chickens are treated inhumanely. Laying hens are kept in a small space with hardly enough room to turn around, and they’re never given the opportunity. When you raise your own chickens, they’ll have a much happier life. This gives you a deep sense of satisfaction.
Chickens are also highly entertaining. They all have their own unique quirks and personalities. Watching them interact is a wonderful experience, especially if your flock knows you. They’ll mill around, looking for treats, and some chickens will even sit next to or on you. Because we raise our chickens from chicks just a few days old, we impress on them. This makes them very sweet. I have a big Brahma hen named Ben who adored me when she was little, and she still does. I could put my hand into the bin we kept our chicks in, and Ben would hop on my hand for a ride. Now, she’s about seven pounds, and she still likes rides on my arm! She’ll step on from her favorite roost and only get down when I bring my arm close to the ground.
Chickens also make the most adorable clucking noises. When one finds a large bug, she’ll cluck and make a run for it with the bug in her beak. The others will run after her, bobbing their heads and making their own noises. They’ll cluck or even screech if they’re particularly jealous.
Chickens are a great animal to own, whether you live on a farm or in the city. For every benefit they give you, they’re totally worth a little time and money.