There may have come a time where you found yourself inside a grocery store noticing the outrageous prices of essential foods like poultry, steaks, eggs, and vegetables. You may have had the thought of starting your own farm and garden. If this is the case, the possibility of raising your own chickens may have crossed your mind. Those thoughts were probably dismissed initially due to various excuses such as not having the time or the space for it. Affordability may have been another excuse to avoid it.
However, after doing a little research you’d likely be surprised to find out that raising a backyard chicken isn’t as difficult, time-consuming, or expensive as one might initially believe. You don’t even need a huge amount of land or space. Raising backyard chickens isn’t just for farmers anymore. More and more city-dwellers are starting to see and enjoy the benefits of keeping chickens of their own, and you can too!
So, why raise backyard chickens, you ask? Here we’ll discuss the reasons it’s a good idea to keep a chicken or two in your backyard.
One of the biggest reasons why people choose to begin raising chickens in their yard is for the benefit of having access to fresh eggs. Some people may have never had the opportunity to eat a fresh egg, but its benefits are no secret. A fresh egg not only tastes better, but also contains much more nutritional value than those that you find in the grocery store. With a backyard chicken, you can decide what your chicken will eat and how it’s raised. Thus, you get to control the quality of the eggs that they will be laying.
Forget The Exterminators
Another great aspect of having a few chickens in your backyard is that you will not have to worry about too many insects running around your home. Chickens love to eat bugs, this includes some of the most annoying and creepy insects such as cockroaches, ticks, grasshoppers, and spiders. Giving your fowl a chance to roam freely around your yard will ensure fewer pests and will give your chickens access to extra protein, not to mention a little extra fun.
Chickens Are Excellent Gardeners
If you’re considering raising backyard chickens, it may be safe to assume that you also enjoy gardening or are open to the idea of growing your own fruits and vegetables. You’ll be happy to know that chickens provide an excellent source of fertilizer, too. This will help save you money by not having to go out to your local hardware store for expensive fertilizer for your plants.
Depending on what you feed your chicken, their droppings should be high in phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. If you are able to compost these in the right manner, you will have an amazing fertilizer to feed to your garden and plants.
Speaking of gardens and plants, did we mention that chickens love to eat weeds? If you have an area full of weeds, they will literally spend hours happily pecking away at them. This activity will not only keep them busy and full, but it will also help to weed out your garden and keep your plants happy and healthy. You will want to have a secure fence around any garden area that you don’t want them getting into, though.
Now that we’ve talked about the chickens composting and weeding out your garden and yard, we can discuss how much they enjoy scratching around the dirt. This action is the chicken essentially tilling your backyard and preparing it for the opportunity to install more vegetables and other plants. On average, usually within a month to a month and a half, one chicken can till upwards of 50 square feet of land. Of course, the effect is compounded with more than just one chicken!
Self-Sufficiency At Its Best (And Cheapest)
Many people decide to raise backyard chickens to promote their own self-sufficiency. Some people may not realize just how easy and economical raising backyard chickens can be. They are probably the most inexpensive option when it comes to becoming self-sufficient.
You only need a small plot of land, the chicken coop or shelter for them to get out of the sun and rest in, clean water, and a reliable food source. Their food source can be found in your backyard (bugs, weeds, etc.) and kitchen scraps that you’d otherwise just throw away.
Chickens are fairly self-sufficient, so you can probably maintain a happy flock and only have to spend 5-10 minutes a day taking care of them. Realistically, the most time-consuming part would be cleaning out their coop. That’s not something that you have to do daily, but you should take special care when you do decide to clean it.
As mentioned before, you can produce your own fresh eggs and poultry if you own and raise backyard chickens. However, that is not all that you can get from them. The feathers of a chicken, for example, can be used as a filler for pillows.
Chickens Are Moneymakers
Speaking of what chickens provide (eggs, meat, compost, etc.), it’s easy to see that there is a possibility to monetize a flock, given the right circumstances. If you really want to let your entrepreneurial abilities shine, you can take the different items that the chickens provide and essentially “bottle it up” and sell them.
You can collect the eggs and take them to your local market and sell them to the hipsters that only eat “organic” foods. Perhaps you know someone that is having a hard time growing plants of their own. You can offer them a sample of your organic chicken manure and then proceed to sell them some when they come raving about how healthy their plants and vegetables are. If you have the room, invest in a rooster and you can breed chickens and sell those chicks.
As you can see, there are many opportunities to not only save money with backyard chickens, but also to make money.
Like my father used to say, “Nothing says fun like a bunch of chickens running around the backyard”. Just kidding, he’s never said that in his life, but it’s still true. This is especially true if you have young children that are full of energy. Just as chickens can spend all day pecking at the dirt and eating bugs, children can spend all day chasing those chickens around.
Not only that, but the kids will learn a lot and become more responsible when they help care for them. Raising a chicken or two can help a child build many skills that will pay off for them throughout their lives.
And who says chickens don’t make good pets? Chickens are kind of like dogs and cats. They each come with their own unique personality and enjoy a good pat every now and then. It has even been proven that they can show compassion. Plus, they’re really cute!
The Circle Of Life
Speaking of kids, raising backyard chickens is a great way for them to learn about the circle of life. It’s inevitable, when raising any animals, to encounter death. Nobody likes it, but it’s a simple fact of life and it’s usually a very hard concept for a child to understand. With a backyard chicken, they can learn that death is not only the end, but also a beginning. This will help them deal with loss better in their lives.
It will also make it easier to explain the overall cycle of life and the food chain to children. They will have a deeper understanding of how balance is kept in nature. An egg can be both food for humans as well as a future chicken that can produce an egg. Maybe you can convince them of which came first!
Picking Out Your Chickens
When selecting your chickens (and there are many different breeds), make sure that you get at least two. Bear in mind that chickens are social animals and may not do as well as they can if they’re on their own.
You should also keep them in an outside area where they can have at least ten square feet each. The coop itself should provide around three square feet per chicken to allow for maximum comfort and better egg production.
If you’re starting out with just two or three chickens, you should be able to put together the optimal area, including a small coop and run for them, with a max investment of around $500. That’s including the chickens, the basic supplies needed to build their living quarters, and feed needed for their initial setup. To put that into perspective, if you enjoy eating omelets, you will save more than that on eggs in just a few months!
Maybe Reconsider The Whole Raising Backyard Chickens Thing
While you may have initially shrugged off the idea of becoming a chicken owner, the above reasons should make it crystal clear that you can and should. The benefits definitely outweigh any excuse you could come up with not to.
Chickens are family-friendly, earn their keep many times over by providing free lawn services and pest control, and will surely be able to provide ample nutritious eggs and poultry throughout many years to come. Raising backyard chickens is a win-win for all.