In 2013, a survey suggested that 1% of the US population kept chickens or other fowl in their backyard. But 4% of respondents said they planned to start in the coming years.
The explosion of owners taking the first steps to keeping backyard chickens has only continued ever since. For the right person, raising chickens can be an excellent hobby and even a way of living independently.
When you think of chickens, you probably imagine the simple life; looking out into your backyard to see your bird family frolicking about, and then going out the next morning to gather a harvest of eggs. This is indeed the good life and it is very possible!
So, why raise chickens in YOUR backyard?
Here are just a few reasons why raising chickens at home has become so popular in recent years:
Chickens are excellent at “creating” food for your plants. They poop a lot and you’ll have to clean the coop out at least every other week. Chicken waste makes excellent compost and it will help your vegetable garden to thrive.
You can even potentially sell your compost as an extra source of income! If your chickens are allowed to free-range, they’ll distribute their poop for you and even scratch it into the lawn or soil of your garden. That’s probably not the first benefit you thought of, but I’m putting it first because it’s a really nice perk.
If you want your own source of meat, then home-grown chickens can be a relatively sustainable source. Chickens are easy to raise, don’t take up that much space, and can even be kept in some suburban areas (depending on your local law).
Birds you raise yourself will be free of hormones and as fresh as can be. Doing this will also take business away from commercial chicken farms that abuse the chickens before they end up on your dinner table.
You will be able to control what your chickens eat, the quality of life they live, and how they are slaughtered if need be. Home-raised chickens also taste better and the meat will have a better texture. If you want to go organic, then you definitely can’t go wrong with a home flock.
Who doesn’t want their eggs to be farm fresh? Keeping your own chickens means that you will always have home grown eggs on hand. And this will be true whether or not you have a rooster as well; hens don’t need a rooster to lay eggs.
If you make an effort to raise your flock well and feed them high-quality food, you will also notice that your eggs taste better and have a better texture than store-bought eggs. Some estimates put grocery store eggs at 6 to 70 days old. Yikes.
Even better, you will save money by not having to buy eggs, and once again you can potentially sell your eggs for an extra income. Each hen will net you about three to five eggs per week, so you can easily reach your weekly baker’s dozen by caring for just a few hens.
By raising your own flock for eggs, you will also stop supporting commercial laying facilities that keep chickens in a cage so small that they can’t even turn around. You can control how nutritious your eggs are by making sure your hens get everything they need from their food.
If you have children, you can use chickens as a learning experience for your kids. Having your children take care of their own chickens, including chores around the coop, will teach them responsibility and respect for animals.
It can also be very entertaining for your kids to take out the eggs, especially if you have several different breeds. Different breeds of chickens lay different-sized eggs which may be different colors. In the process, your kids will learn where food comes from as well as how to respectfully take care of other lives that are not their own.
Chickens are excellent at foraging, and they are also remarkable hunters! If you set your chickens free in your yard, you will eliminate the problem of pests eating your veggies in no time.
Say goodbye to insects like spiders and beetles. You might, however, have chickens that eat your veggies so you’ll have to decide what's worse; don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Chickens are especially good at bug extermination in hard to get to places, so if you don’t want to use any chemicals on your crops, let the chickens take care of it for you.
Maybe I’m just a guy who went off the deep end and made a site all about chickens, but to me, my chickens are hilarious and very entertaining. Once you spend any amount of time around them, you’ll notice a few strange quirks here and there.
Each chicken has its own personality. Some are very serious while others are class clowns.
If you want to add some chicken toys, try a mirror. It is quite entertaining watching them try to intimidate the chicken in the mirror.
Also, your chickens will most likely come running when they see you in the backyard. It's a great feeling and can even be a bit comical. Some daring hens might even try to peck your toes to get your attention.
No matter what they do, you will most definitely never be bored with chickens around.
My message on this site is that caring for chickens is easier than you might think as long as you do the research first.
Chickens have very basic needs when it comes to their care. They need to be fed, watered, be given a space to roam and a safe place to roost at night. It is also much simpler to leave them alone for a day or two, which is something you can’t really do with a dog.
Stop chicken abuse
Keeping your own chickens lessens chicken abuse. It might be a very small difference, but it is still a difference you're making.
Chickens at battery farms are abused and force-fed to feed the human population. It is not a healthy way to produce food and thus not a healthy food to consume. By raising and eating your own chickens, you remove that nasty part of the industry from your life entirely.
Why Raise Chickens?
So returning to the original question, why raise chickens?
At the end of the day, homeowners have dozens of reasons why they want to introduce a flock into their backyard. Whether it is to lessen animal abuse, live a simple farm life, or keep farm-fresh eggs on hand at all times, there are so many great reasons to invest in the companionship of a backyard flock. With a little background research, you too can bring these wonderful creatures into your daily life!
Check out our ultimate beginner guide to chicken bedding!