So many people seem to think keeping chickens in backyards is hard work. Well, it’s not much work at all and about as easy as keeping any other outdoor pets like cats and dogs. Here are 5 reasons why you should consider raising some feathered friends.
1. Chickens Produce Food
Chickens lay eggs. Depending on the type of hen, you may get eggs nearly every day for 18 months, or you may get as few as 80 eggs in a year. The American standard for commercial egg production is around 300 eggs per bird. Varieties that are crossed for the commercial egg production tend to lay continuously for a short period of time and then their rate of production drops off quite significantly.
Pure breed strains may only produce up to 6 eggs a week from Spring through Autumn. They lay fewer eggs over the year, but they may also continue laying eggs for many more years then the crossbreeds. Their are also different breeds sometimes referred to as Easter Egger breeds that lay different colored eggs ranging from blues to greens, and even pink!
2. They are a Rubbish Bin Alternative
Chickens will eat with glee, many types of kitchen scraps. Most fruit and vegetable scraps can be fed to them. Meat and dairy scraps, though, are possibly the most favorite food scraps of hens. Protein helps maintain egg laying as well as helping in meat production. Some people believe chickens have an innate ability to know what is safe for them to eat. This is not necessarily true: a list of what is unsafe for chickens to eat can be found here.
3. They Are Great Garden Companions
By eating garden scraps, they are not only processing your waste, but producing a wonderful free fertilizer for your garden. If you throw in you garden waste as well, they will scratch it about and eat all the weed seeds and turn the lot into compost for you.
They will also eat all your garden pests. Snails, slugs, and spiders are particularly delicious to a hen. If you want to get your veggie patch ready for planting – send in the hens. They will weed, clear and fertilize the area for you, without you ever having to lift a finger. Once your garden is up and growing you may have to limit access to it so they aren’t picking at your delicious veggies.
4. They are Easier to Look After Than You Think
Many people are led to believe that keeping poultry is hard work. They believe they need constant maintenance and are prone to every illness under the sun. This is not true at all. While poultry do tend to die quickly from illnesses, they can also be protected from illness quite easily.
All that chickens really need to be happy and healthy are shelter, clean water and food, protection from the weather (be it cold winds or harsh sun), and somewhere for them to stretch their legs a bit. An old tin shed can be used as both shelter of a night time and as protection from predators and bad weather.
Trees and shrubs provide excellent shelter from the hot sun. A yard attached to the shelter or a movable pen will provide them with dirt to scratch in and greenery to eat. Now all you need to provide are sturdy water and food containers and you are ready to go.
5. Chickens Are Very Friendly
Chickens love being around people, so long as they have been hand reared. They love to follow you round and adore being carried everywhere by small children. They are also fascinating to watch – a great alternative to the TV in fact! Getting to know each chickens personality is also a joy.