Chances are if you’ve already got your chickens pecking in your backyard, you had a reason for getting them. Maybe you wanted “farm fresh eggs” or perhaps you were looking for a small animal project to keep you and your family busy during this extended time of staying home.
Chickens are a lot of work, but anything worth doing is going to take work. However, the advantages are plentiful. You want fresh eggs; you’re going to work for them. But the satisfaction of eating a scrambled or fried egg that you raised is like nothing else! Just like anything that is “home-grown” whether it is an egg or garden produce, the eggs your chickens raise will taste much better than those that come from the store. While you’re raising your own food, you will be rewarded in a variety of way.
1. Chickens are great teachers.
You might not think a small bird could teach you so much, but they can. According to one online publication, many families get backyard chickens to teach their kids responsibilities. They make great 4-H projects too. Here are few of the lessons that your feathered friends will teach you:
Good things come to those who wait. Most chickens will lay one egg/chicken per day. Some breeds don’t lay daily, but they will lay 3-4 eggs per week. Remember, your chickens won’t lay until they reach maturity; but the months of caring for them until that point will teach you many lessons, give you a chance to bond and teach you that lesson in patience.
Clean the coop. The health and therefore the productivity of a chicken relies on a clean coop. And since they can’t clean up after themselves, they need you to do that for them. Make sure they have clean, dry bedding, and that excess manure is hauled away.
Reap what you sow. Gathering eggs is a fun way to get into the nitty gritty of raising chickens. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of going into the coop and filling the wire mesh basket my mom gave me with fresh eggs. This is a great chore for younger people who you are trying to teach responsibility to. Don’t have kids? That’s ok, because it is a great way to bond with animals, get outside and away from technology for a little bit every day.
Eggs make dough. Depending on your family size and the number of chickens you have, you might be overrun with eggs. This would be a fun way to smart a small side business for you or your kids with selling eggs to friends, neighbors or at a local farmer’s market. You can make some side money along with having fun with your chickens.
2. Chickens offer companionship and entertainment.
Just like any animal, each chicken has a distinct personality. They can and usually will show affection to their caretakers, especially when tamed down at a young age. Each breed has its own level of docility. Chickens are entertaining to watch as they peck at insects and worms, trying to get natural snacks. Not only are these backyard birds great entertainers, but they also offer health benefits. Being around animals has also shown to decrease stress and improve a person’s overall health.
3. Chickens act as insect and weed control.
Unlike humans, chickens like pesky little things like bugs and weeds. Put your chickens to work for you as natural insect and weed control. If you have a well-maintained harvested garden, chickens will eat the weeds in the garden and help control the population of unwanted pests like crickets, grasshoppers, snails and slugs.
4. Chickens provide fertilizer.
Speaking of your lawn and garden, chickens provide a nutrient-rich, natural fertilizer. With your chickens, you’ll save money on fertilizer at the store. Chicken manure contains the three primary ingredients in most lawn and garden fertilizers: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Compost the manure you clean from your pen and coop to add to your flowers or garden, save money and see some wonderful results.
5. Chickens are the original garbage disposal.
Chickens will eat many of the scraps that humans might not eat. You can count on your chickens to enjoy vegetable and fruit peels, salad leftovers, rice, nuts and fruit. Be sure to only feed your chickens what they can eat, so the food doesn’t spoil, attracting more insects to your backyard.
Yes, the fresh eggs might require a little effort, but the rewards are worth it! A small package can provide companionship, entertainment, pest control, fertilizer and more. Take care of your feathered friends and make sure you have a flourishing flock.