Five Reasons to Consider Keeping Chickens

(Photo Source)

Post by Contributing Writer, Jill

Chickens seem to be all the rage right now. Who would have thought? Urban, suburban, and rural chicken keeping is on the rise as more and more people see it as a simple way to boost their self-sufficiency and sustainability. Perhaps you’ve pondered the idea yourself. Should you take the “chicken plunge”? Here are 5 benefits to keep in mind as you consider keeping a flock of your own.

1. Fresh, natural eggs and meat. Obviously, this is probably the primary reason most people choose to own chickens. Local food awareness is on the rise and folks everywhere are becoming more interested in where and how their food is produced.

Naturally raised eggs are more nutritious than their store-bought counterparts, and you can’t beat the freshness of an egg that was laid that morning! When a hen’s laying years are complete, there is always the option of butchering her and harvesting the meat and bones for nourishing soups, stews, and broth. While not everyone will choose to do this, it can be an added source of naturally raised meat and ensures that nothing goes to waste.

2. The perfect “small-scale” introduction to home food production. More and more towns and cities are allowing for residents to keep a couple chickens in their backyard. This is a great introduction to the world of animal ownership, especially if you are looking towards a rural or homesteading lifestyle in your future.

Chickens require little room, and the sky is the limit when it comes to coops and runs. Housing for your flock doesn’t need to be fancy and can often be improvised with materials you have around your home (just be sure the coop is secure from wandering predators!). Chickens are fairly easy to maintain and care for, especially when compared to other “larger” farm animals like cows or horses.

3. The joys of sharing the miracles and cycles of life with your children.  Imagine being able to share first hand with your children or grandchildren how eggs are produced, and the ample learning opportunities that will become available.  They will have the opportunity to gain a valuable, first hand knowledge as to where their food comes from.

Younger children can enjoy collecting eggs, while older children can take on the responsibilites of feeding, watering, and cleaning the coop. I can think of endless numbers of science projects and experiments involving your flock; incubating eggs, learning feed rations, animal nutrition, and the list goes on!

4. A simple way to convert kitchen scraps into valuable compost. Aged or composted chicken manure is an excellent amendment for your garden. No more having to purchase commercial compost or fertilizers!

Chickens will also eat a large variety of table scraps, even things like yogurt or leftover milk! This can help to reduce your feed bill, produce more nutritious eggs, and prevent you from having to keep a compost bin for table scraps. Additionally, if you have the capabilities to allow your flock to free-range in your yard or garden, they will fertilize as they go.

5. Sheer entertainment value. Before I became a chicken owner, I would have never guessed that a flock of chickens can be some of the best entertainment around! It is amazing how quickly they develop personalities and preferences. I find it oddly soothing to watch them lazily pick and scratch around in the dirt. Turn off your TV, gather your family, and head outside to watch your chickens!

(Photo Source)

Of course, one should keep in mind that there is a measure of responsibility that comes with any type of animal ownership, whether it be a puppy, a chicken, or a cow. It’s important to take into consideration your weekly schedule, as well as who would be available to care for your flock when you leave on vacation, etc. While they are definitely an easy animal to keep, they still must be fed, watered, and cared for on a daily basis, and those needs must be carefully considered before bringing home a box of chicks from the feed store.

If you have never thought about keeping a home flock before, I encourage you to consider adding them to your lifestyle. Take the plunge and join the ranks of happy chicken farmers all over the country!

Jill writes from the homestead she shares with her husband, baby daughter, and an ever-changing assortment of animals. When she’s not in the kitchen preparing traditional foods, you’ll find her outside riding her horses, growing vegetables, milking goats, and killing rattlesnakes. She shares homesteading tales and kitchen tips at her blog, The Prairie Homestead.

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38 comments to Five Reasons to Consider Keeping Chickens

  • Love this! You don’t have to convince me it’s a great idea to keep chickens, but I wish you could convince the people that run the town I live in…we live in a rural, agricultural town and they have an ordinance against farm animals in town limits. Honestly, if I didn’t live smack dab in the center of town, I’d probably try to see if I could get away with it! I just want maybe 3-4 layers, no rooster. I didn’t think that would be a problem but when I called and asked they said no. Maybe I should start going to the town meetings and asking for a change in the ordinance or chain myself to something until they do LOL. I do have a friend with a lovely flock who shares her delicious eggs and meat birds with me though.

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  • I don’t need convincing, but my husband does…
    The neighborhood cats would probably eat them though :(

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  • I wish I could have some also but we’re in the city and it’s not allowed, plus, I’m with Randi on the cats issue…
    I’d really just want 2 to lay eggs, nothing else. Oh well… I can dream.

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  • Those were our top 5 reasons as well. I would add to number 3 the the responsibility of caring for chickens can lead to showing chickens in 4-H or through the American Poultry Association. That is some serious confidence building & pride in a job well done!

    Great post! I’ll be sure to pass it on.

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    Jill @ The Prairie Homestead Reply:

    For some reason, my computer is not allowing me to respond to individual comments…
    But, I understand the frustration of those whose city laws prohibit chickens.
    However, I think more and more cities and towns are going to start reconsidering their ordinances as urban “farming” increases in popularity. I encourage you to get out and talk to your council members! :)

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  • Lovely post, Jill!

    Have you discovered how much chickens love green snakes? As we’ve worked in the yard and come across harmless snakes, we give them to the chickens – talk about entertainment! It’s total mayhem.

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    Jill @ The Prairie Homestead Reply:

    I’ve never seen chickens with a snake, but I bet they just love it! Wonder if they’d take down some of our rattlers…. 😉

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  • I really want to do this! I think my husband’s next job location must be a place we can have chickens. Isn’t that a good reason for moving somewhere?

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    Jill @ The Prairie Homestead Reply:

    Stacy- that is a perfectly good reason in my book! :)

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  • We too would love to have chickens too but alas, our town has an ordinance against them as well. Maybe we can vote again in the coming years…..

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  • We moved out to the country just so we could have chickens. And I, too, was surprised to find out how much FUN they are! Braveheart comes to my front porch every morning looking for a treat 😉 We’ve found them pretty easy keepers, only down side is that they poop ALOT!

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  • jill

    When my kids were little we hatched eggs as a homeschool project. While others returned their chicks, we kept ours. We never did eat them, the kids named them, we had lots of eggs, and we adored them. They were afraid of a fake snake the kids had. Many times they came in through a door left open and enjoyed cleaning my kitchen floor of crumbs. Another bonus is they kept the bug count low in my garden. The cats were afraid of them, such entertainment to watch a little ol’ hen chasing the cat. The dog too. I’m really ready to do this, ordinance or not. Our city codes are usually handled on a complaint basis. I have neighbors with chickens, and growing unusual plants and no one seems to care or complain as long as it doesn’t bother anyone. As soon as I get my garden in, or mostly in, I think I’ll start planning for this.
    For now I’ll settle for the duck eggs that I’ve been getting for a very good price.

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    Jill @ The Prairie Homestead Reply:

    Great point about the garden bug control! I haven’t used my hens for that purpose yet, but I plan to in the future. Thanks for adding that!

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  • I appreciate this post, as we’ve been thinking about it for some time. Our city codes allow chickens, but no roosters! I did think we had missed our window of opportunity for this year, but perhaps I’m wrong? Any advice about timing would be appreciated!

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    Jill @ The Prairie Homestead Reply:

    I believe that you can still order chicks from catalogs like Murray McMurray. (they have a website too). I think some feed stores *might* be sold out by now, but it just depends. And, you can always keep your eyes open for chicks/older hens for sale on places like Craigslist, etc! I think you should still have a good window of time if you want to try and get started this year!

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  • great post! i didn’t need convincing either. we’re trying to get out to the country so we can have them too since our HOA doesn’t allow them here. neighbors all around us have them but they’re not a part of this HOA… i’m glad for the sudden shift in interest for raising your own chickens. i think it’s awesome! i can’t wait to get our own! :)

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  • Pat

    Great post.
    I am sold on having chickens… and have gone as far as building a coop. Still need to fence in a yard and get some though. Its a process… waiting is the hardest part.
    I’m curious about them eating our kitchen scraps. Didn’t know that. Need to gather some more info on that. Is there anything they CAN’T EAT?
    Thanks a bunch- enjoyed the post.
    Pat

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    Jill @ The Prairie Homestead Reply:

    Pat- I found this great list of chicken treats- it might answer some of your questions!
    http://www.meetup.com/chickens/messages/boards/thread/6102522

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  • Alice Perkins

    A friend of mine lived in San Diego and decided she wanted chickens. For years she got away with it (hens only – no roosters crowing)in her backyard. Until one day the chickens got out, and were found walking in a long single-file down the sidewalk, for all the world like they owned the place. But the gig was up!

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    Jill @ The Prairie Homestead Reply:

    Alice, that is hilarious! What a funny sight…

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  • I love this post! We adore our chickens. Someone mentioned worrying about cats. Once our chickens got big enough to be able to really roam on their own, our cats never thought twice about bothering them. They actually can hold their own pretty good. We did have to train our dogs though. All of them eat the kitchen scraps together now! Who woulda thunk it LOL!

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    Jill @ The Prairie Homestead Reply:

    I don’t seem to have any problems with our cats, either. My dogs are the bird killers, though. I really need to spend some time working with them… How neat that yours share the kitchen scraps Debbie!

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  • Brandy

    efowl.com has chickens through the summer.

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  • I learned a lot from this post. I don’t know that our HOA would allow us to keep chickens but this definitely has me considering finding out. I think my daughter would certainly enjoy it and I would love having the fresh eggs!

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  • I have never considered this before, but this is a great idea!!! I love it! Now to convince my hubby… 😉

    So happy to find you at the “Encouragement is Contagious!” linky party on my blog! :) I would love for you to link up again next time! :)

    Blessings!
    Melanie

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  • We are one of the families that have taken the path of raising chickens in the backyard. We currently have one rooster and 11 hens with one hen sitting on two eggs to hopefully hatch in about 20 days. Chickens are definitely entertaining and we love getting the fresh eggs. Haven’t gotten to the point yet of using them for a meat sourch though, daughter isn’t ready for that yet.
    Blessings
    Diane

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  • We recently got 10 chickens and we are loving them!

    [Reply]

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  • Rory Berdecia

    i really love the taste of chicken, i always use it on my own chicken salad recipe.^

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  • […] a small flock of your own. From eggs and meat, to extra fertilizer and sheer entertainment, there are many reasons to become a chicken farmer in your own backyard! Transform your Kitchen into a Homesteader’s Kitchen. No matter what type of homesteading you do, […]

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