Why have chickens? People ask us that a lot. And, after having chickens for five+ years I have some answers.
You get fresh eggs every day (if you have laying hens, of course). They are delicious and come in a variety of colors. Homegrown eggs have a variety of health benefits like protein and all 9 essential amino acids! (see more benefits here! https://www.greatnortherntimber.com/our-blog-posts/?pg=14&pgtitle=10-health-benefits-of-farm-fresh-eggs)
Fewer bugs! Well, if you let them free range in your yard anyway. Chickens looooove to hunt and eat all the buggies in your yard. The only animals I find ticks on anymore are the cats and that’s because they go off down into the woods instead of staying in our nice, safe yard. Chickens eat all kinds of bugs. And mice. And frogs. But we won’t talk about that.
While we’re on the subject of chickens eating bugs... there’s nothing funnier than watching a chicken run and they will chase bugs across the yard. Or they’ll chase each other trying to steal bugs away that somebody else already caught. Watching a chicken run is hilarious! Laughter is the best medicine, don’t you know?
Less table scraps. Chickens will eat pretty much anything. We have less food waste because all our peelings, leftovers (that the dogs don’t get), eggshells... it all goes to the chickens who happily devour it all and turn it into delicious eggs for us to eat later.
Small business for your kid! Do you ever wonder how we afford all that paint and canvas that Bree uses? Or all the books she reads? We don’t. She makes the money from the eggs we sell and uses that to buy her own stuff. It is an excellent arrangement.
Better immune system! When you mess with chickens you can’t help but pick up some of the microbes from them. They’re in the air, they get on you if you touch the chickens, if you get mud on your skin... microbes are not bad. Most are good. And a book I just read about the microbiome talked at length about how exposure to animals actually boosts your immune system simply by swapping some microbes. Our society is entirely too germophobic and too clean! Get outside and play in the dirt! Pet your chickens!
Exercise! Whether you like it or not, those chickens have to be fed every day. So every morning I get up and go out to scatter some scratch grains for my girls (and a few boys) and refill their feeder. In the afternoon I go gather eggs around 3 when they should mostly be done laying. In the evening I go back out and lock them up for the night so they’ll be safe from predators (and possums are not the innocent sweet things the internet would have you believe). You have to carry food bags from your vehicle to where ever you store the food. You have to scoop the coop once in a while.
Self-replicating! If you have some good setting hens (Langhans, Brahmas, buff Orpingtons, Wyandotte’s, Cochins.....) and a rooster or two, you don’t have to buy new chickens to grow or replenish your flock. You can let your broody hens set and they’ll hatch and raise new babies for you! I highly advise this method as it’s much easier to let the mama hens raise the babies rather than keeping them in a brooder with a light and all. And they’re happier being raised by a mama hen, honestly. Can’t say as I blame them. I’d rather be raised by a mama of my own species than by a giant biped whose feathers change every single day.
Chicken friends. When you have chickens you suddenly have a common talking point with anybody who has or ever has had chickens. Heck, people who don’t even have chickens like to talk about chickens with me! It’s crazy!
Simple joy. Sitting out on the porch watching the chickens roam around the yard. Petting your favorite hen (or rooster) or letting your bantam roo ride around on your shoulder where he’s so very proud. Looking at a full basket of eggs you gathered. Watching your kids ooo and aaah over baby chicks and take on the responsibility of helping to raise and care for them. Listening to your Great Pyr howl along when the chickens all get to cackling because they’re celebrating that somebody laid an egg...
Chickens are a simple pleasure, but one I highly recommend.