Are you thinking about raising backyard chickens? What's holding you back? There are lots of benefits to raising backyard chickens.
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It happened again! I told myself this spring I would wait until the beginning of March to buy more chicks. It was too early to think about how many birds I wanted or what breeds. I wasn’t planning it. Really, I wasn’t, but…..
Well, you know how it goes. It was early February. Still winter for sure. Cold, dreary, short days. No signs of spring. We had to go to the store for something completely unrelated. I said, “let me just look to see if they even have chicks yet. I’m just curious. It’s too early to buy them.”
But then there they were: Silkie Bantams, Olive Eggers, Silver Laced Wyandottes, White Crested Blue Polish. I didn’t know what to do. All of these great breeds that you don’t always see at the farm store. It had to be done. Just a dozen to start. I was planning on getting more chicks anyway.
The thing is, it worked out for me this time. I was prepared. The brooder was ready to go (almost). At least I knew what I was getting into.
And now, as I sit here and write this, the chicks that I got in February while it was still winter are now almost ready to start laying. In another month or so, they will be producing fresh eggs every day. I guess that’s a benefit to getting started early.
Are you curious about keeping chickens? Have you thought about it or even looked into buying some of these adorable creatures? There are many benefits to having your own chickens.
This is the number one benefit of raising backyard chickens for me. You know how after you eat homegrown tomatoes, it’s really hard to eat a flavorless store-bought tomato? That’s how I feel about chicken eggs. There really is no point in eating store-bought chicken eggs if I can avoid it. Birds that have access to the sun, insects and fresh air produce much higher quality eggs.
If you have space, raising your hens on pasture will give you the best eggs. I let my chickens free range and also supply them with an organic, soy-free, corn-free feed. During the winter, they mostly eat feed, since we live in a climate with colder winters.
When spring comes, the girls are out foraging in the grass and leaves. I can definitely see a difference in the color and consistency of the yolk as more greens and protein from bugs are added to their diet. Even if you don’t have a lot of space for your hens to roam, at least you know what you are feeding them and can feel safe in your choices.
But really, the eggs are the only reason you need to raise chickens. If you’re still not convinced, keep reading.
When I first started raising chickens, I was only interested in the eggs. Now I am at a point that I am ready to take the leap into meat chickens. If you are contemplating getting meat chickens, definitely take some time to research what breed you want to get. Certain breeds will do better with being pasture raised while others grow so quickly, they have trouble moving around much. They are bred to grow big and fast.
You may also decide to cull some of your egg layers as they get older and stop laying. These chickens are best for stew or bone broth.
No matter which breed you choose and no matter the reasons for harvesting the meat, the meat that you will get from your chickens will taste unlike anything you can buy in the grocery store. The biggest benefit is knowing where and how your chickens were raised and harvested.
Chickens are entertaining. Each breed and each chicken has its own unique personality. They are fun to watch and to listen to.
Have you ever heard a chicken sing its song after it has laid an egg? It squawks and cackles and carries on. And have you seen the way they come running toward you when they see you, expecting some treats or goodies? Some chickens will sit on your lap. The commotion they make when they find a good bug or a juicy worm creates lots of excitement in the yard. My favorite is watching them take dust baths. They fling dust and gravel all over the place as they roll around in the dirt.
Not to mention, watching chickens can be a way to create mindfulness in your everyday life. Going out to the coop every morning and watching as the hens start their day can be a meditative time. Taking a break from gardening to sit and watch the chickens forage around is relaxing and rejuvenating.
By the way, you know all those sayings you have heard: “shake a tail feather,” “pecking order,” “mother hen,” “hen cackle,” “flew the coop,” and “rule the roost,” just to name a few? If you observe your chickens closely, you will soon understand where they all came from!
Chickens create manure. They scratch and peck in the soil just enough to help work that manure in. Chicken poop is like gold. You can go out and buy bags of it, or you can let your girls do what they do.
On a side note, I wouldn’t put the chickens in the garden or any other place that you want to keep intact. If you want them to fertilize the garden, wait until fall when your plants have finished producing. Otherwise, they will tear up your garden, and that would be sad.
Also, chicken manure needs time to break down. If you plant something directly into fresh manure, the manure could burn the plants. Give it a few months to compost and cool off.
Chickens love insects! They will get rid of the grubs and flies and every other little bug that you don’t want in your garden or yard. The insects provide lots of protein which creates healthier eggs. It’s really a win-win situation. Less bugs and better egg quality.
I like to feed my chickens those tomato horn worms that show up on my tomatoes every year. I collect a bunch of them in a bucket and dump them out for the chickens. They absolutely love it!
If you have a pile of weeds that you have pulled out of your garden, don’t throw them away! Feed them to the chickens! Chickens love to forage through a pile of weeds and eat all the goodies. If you let the chickens free range in your yard, they will also eat a lot of weeds. Be careful, though, because they will eat all of your landscaping plants, too!
As you can see, raising backyard chickens has so many benefits. Even if you don’t have a lot of space, a few chickens can provide eggs, natural fertilizer and entertainment for your whole family. Do you raise chickens? What’s your favorite thing about chickens?
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Egg Cartons Depending on how many eggs you collect, you may need to order some extra egg cartons. Usually people are more than happy to save empty egg cartons for you.
Egg Basket It's always nice to have something for carrying eggs. I like to use a little basket.
Boots These boots are super cute for taking care of your chickens or for wearing around town in the rain.
The Chicken Whisperer's Guide to Keeping Chickens This is one of my favorite books to reference for chickens. It has all the basics on how to raise your own chickens.
Fresh Eggs Daily This is another of my favorite books on keeping chickens. There are lots of natural ideas for keeping chickens healthy.
Aromatic Nesting Herbs To keep your nesting boxes fresh, try some aromatic herbs. I love this brand!