When we have friends over to our house for the first time, and they notice we have chickens in our backyard, one of the first questions most of them ask is: “why do you keep chickens in your backyard?”.
To people who already keep chickens, no explanation is needed, however this got us thinking what are our top 5 reasons for why we keep chickens?
1. Living a Healthy Lifestyle
The first reason we keep chickens is that we want to try and become more self-sufficient.
There’s something unexplainably rewarding when you walk down to your chicken coop and scope up freshly laid eggs- maybe it’s the fact that we are a small part of this process or maybe it’s caring for these incredible animals… we’re unsure but what we do know is it’s a great feeling!
Although we consume a lot more in our household than just eggs, it’s satisfying to know that a small proportion of what we eat comes directly from our garden. We know exactly where it’s come from, what the chickens have had to eat, and how the egg has been handled and treated since they’ve been laid.
Being self-sufficient also includes not relying on other people to take away our waste, and our girls really help with this! They tend to eat all of our left over food and scraps.
Be sure to read 7 Surprising Rules for Feeding Chickens to learn exactly which kitchen scraps you can feed them.
2. Fresh Eggs
Ok, although this one is obvious it’s sometimes taken for granted and we wanted to draw attention to it again.
If you haven’t managed to try freshly laid free-range eggs before you are really missing out- we couldn’t believe the first time we tried our hens freshly laid eggs. The taste was something you can’t explain and we knew as soon as we tried that first egg we were never going back to buying eggs from the supermarket ever again!
If you read our blog post from last week, How To Store Your Chickens’ Freshly Laid Eggs, you’d know that supermarket eggs can be up to a month old before they hit the shelves- so maybe they taste better because they are so much fresher?
We think it’s plain and simple though- it’s because you love and care for your hens and that’s shines through all the way to the taste of their eggs!
3. They Help the Garden
We actually didn’t consider this until we read online about chicken muck being used as fertilizer.
So we started using our chicken muck on the flower beds and it turns out chicken muck makes for great fertilizer because it’s full of nitrogen.
Not only can you use the chicken muck, but if you have a compost heap you can also use old bedding (straw and sawdust) and throw this on the heap- it all helps!
Chickens can also really help your garden if you trust them enough to let them have free-roam over your garden including your garden beds. They will eat any bugs and insects in the beds and also scrat around and turn over the soil.
We tried this a few times and our chickens got a bit too friendly with the garden bed and started pecking at the vegetables so we haven’t trusted them since… We now only let them into the garden beds at the end of the season after we’ve picked the vegetables so they can’t do too much damage!
If you don’t want to let them directly onto your garden beds, you can always throw over all the grass cuttings and scraps into their pen and they will keep on-top of it for you.
4. They Are Very Low Maintenance
Most people assume that chickens, like other outdoor livestock such as horses, are high maintenance and will take up hours of their day caring for them. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In our experience chickens are one of the easiest animals to keep and care for.
The most time intensive part of keeping chickens is preparing for their arrival (building their coop and making their run secure etc).
Once your chickens are settled in they don’t require much time from you at all. You can easily keep chickens by spending less than 20 minutes a day caring for them.
They need letting out in the morning, with feed and fresh water. Then in the afternoon you will need to feed them and change their water again. Finally, in the evening you will need to lock their coop up. All of this can easily be done in less than 20 minutes.
We challenge you to only spending 20 minutes a day with your hens though! We like to just sit out in the garden in the evening and watch our hens- there is something relaxing about just watching them and hearing them merrily clucking to themselves…
5. Teaching Your Kids
Keeping chickens is a great way to teach your children fundamental life principals.
Although this won’t apply to everyone, if you do have children, teaching them with chickens will give them experiences they will remember their entire life!
To keep chickens you need to be responsible, consistent and dedicated. You can get your kids involved, by helping to let the chickens out each morning and helping to clean them out each week. This will help teach your children the importance of caring for others and the importance of being responsible…
We also love the fact that keeping chickens in our backyard, helps our kids understand the importance of nature and where the eggs come from.
So there are our top five reasons why we think you should get chickens, but it wouldn’t be fair of us to say this without mentioning the less glamorous side of keeping chickens…
Believe us when we say, hens wake up at dawn and they are not impressed when they are locked inside their coop waiting to get outside! You don’t need to be up at dawn but most mornings our girls are out before 6:30am. So if you don’t like early mornings we suggest getting an automatic chicken coop door. Automatic doors are a great invention and can be set to open at sun-up and sundown.
If you do still really want chickens and can’t stomach the early morning, you could always purchase an automatic coop door so you can still enjoy your sleep!
They Need Attention Every Day
Like most other pets, chickens are tying and you need to make sure someone is there every day to feed and water them. This isn’t a problem if you have people close by you trust who can care for them whilst you are on holiday. However you need to bare this in mind before committing to chickens.
Chickens Need Space
If you don’t have a reasonable sized garden you are going to struggle to keep more than a few chickens. They don’t like being kept in small spaces and when they are cramped it can lead to them getting agitated and attacking each other… not what we want.
If you are seriously considering getting chickens read How Much Room Do Chickens Need.
All of this being said, we wouldn’t swap our girls for the world, and they provide us with enjoyment and love each and every day.
Yes, the fresh eggs are great but the most important thing is we are providing a safe and loving home for these incredible animals.
In some areas of the world chickens are kept in horrendous conditions and exploited to produce eggs for the cheapest possible price. We’re proud to say that we don’t contribute to this culture and treat chickens with the respect and love they deserve.
Let us know why you keep chickens in the comments below, is it for the eggs?