There is a trend toward chicken-keeping these days, and even urban and suburban dwellers are finding ways to incorporate these funny, feathered critters into their daily lives. Chickens do provide all sort of benefits besides just the obvious. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of backyard chicken-keeping.
1. Fresh Eggs
If you are buying free-range, organic, and/or cage-free eggs at the store, you know how expensive they can be. One good laying chicken will provide you with an egg a day, or 30 eggs a month, for less than a dollar a month in feed (depending on your local feed prices of course). That’s a big saving!
2. Weed Control
Chickens need and enjoy eating greens. Some of their favorites include the aptly-named chickweed and dandelion greens, which most people are glad to get rid of.
3. Insect Control
Chickens love to eat bugs. Guinea hens are particularly adept at eradicating ticks. Snails, slugs, and other pests will disappear as your chickens range around your yard helping themselves.
While it may not be the most pleasant topic, chickens are little fertilizer factories. You will want to start a compost pile into which you can dump the used nesting box and coop bedding when you clean out. The pile will produce nitrogen-rich compost that will fertilize your yard and garden.
There’s no doubt about it – chickens are funny. You won’t need to watch television of an evening; just watch your chickens’ shenanigans.
6. Living Recyclers
While compost and fertilizer were mentioned above, it’s worth noting chickens’ role in kitchen scrap recycling. Chickens love leftovers. Pasta, sweet breads, and melon rinds are favorites. By giving your chickens scraps, you are recycling your kitchen waste into useful weed control, pest eradication, and fertilizer. You are also turning your waste into fresh eggs!
If space is limited or free ranging is otherwise not possible, you may want to consider a chicken tractor. You can make one of these yourself or purchase them already made. They are basically a wood frame with wire sides and top.
The bottom is open so the chickens have access to fresh plants and ground. Each day, you move the tractor to a new spot. The chickens enjoy the air, sunlight, and room to move (at least 4 square feet per chicken) while remaining protected from predators and not-so-chicken-friendly neighbors.
Keeping chickens in your backyard is economical and rewarding.