Reasons you SHOULD keep backyard chickens!
The decision to keep backyard chickens was a big one for our family. My husband put tons of hours worth of research into what it takes to keep them, care for them and house them and we spent quite a bit on what we thought were necessities. We’ve learned a lot in the last four years. One thing I know for sure is that I will never NOT keep chickens again.
If you’re on the fence over whether or not you can handle keeping backyard chickens then this post is for you. Here are a few of the important things we’ve learned and a few we wish we’d known before getting started.
Backyard Chickens are so EASY!
You don’t need a fancy chicken coop – See the fancy coop above that my husband built? Well you don’t need it. We had decided to start with 8 chickens and despite all the research, we severely overestimated their needs. We’d imagined all eight hens each needing their own nesting box so they could lay eggs. FACT: They’re almost never all trying to lay an egg at the same time and they actually prefer to share and/or lay their eggs on the pile that’s already been started by the other hens. We could have gotten away with one nesting box but I think it’s safe to say that two for a flock of eight would be sufficient.
Their poop makes great fertilizer – If you love to garden then chicken poop fertilizer will rock your world!
“Using Chicken Manure for Vegetable Garden Fertilizer. Chicken manure fertilizer is very high in nitrogen and also contains a good amount of potassium and phosphorus. The high nitrogen and balanced nutrients is the reason that chicken manure compost is the best kind of manure to use.” –Gardening Know How
They eat kitchen scraps – We keep a bowl on our counter and feed our chickens scraps from our salads, green juice, fruit and veggies. Scraps and spoiled fruits and veggies that would normally go into the composter now go into a grow box where the chickens forage through it and eat what they like.
They’re fun to watch – Their cooing and clucking are super relaxing to listen to (the rooster not so much, lol) and they’re very interesting to watch. Their inter-chicken relationships and sense of community intrigues me and the way our rooster cares for his girls and looks out for them fascinates me.
You can hatch your own chicks – When hens become “broody” then insist on sitting on eggs. If you’re interested in hatching your own chicks simply stick a few fertilized eggs under and her hopefully in about 21 days you’ll have chicks whom she’ll take full responsibility for until they’re ready to integrate into the rest of the flock. It’s quite the sight to see!
Their eggs are so much more tasty and nutritious than store bought eggs- Are farm fresh (backyard chicken) eggs better than store bought eggs? Here’s a great comparison and explanation of Store Bought Eggs vs. Farm Fresh Eggs.
You can expect a constant supply of fresh eggs – In peak seasons you might be able to expect 5-7 eggs per week from a single hen. There are a couple times a year when they eat less and produce less eggs, during those times you may have to resort to store bought eggs until laying resumes.
Their feed is quite cheap – We purchase feed in 50lb bags from our local farm & feed supply for approximately $15 per bag. Depending on how many chickens you have this bag could last you quite while. For our flock of 12 a 50lb bag lasts approximately 10-12 days.
Chickens can use a litter box – At night our hens go inside their coop and onto perches. Just under those perches my husband built shallow wooden boxes that we fill with Sweet PDZ Horse Stall Refresher granules (not powder) which is non-toxic and biodegradable. Because the hens poop so much at night, these litter boxes catch the majority of it keeping the inside of their coop clean and needing less maintenance. Every couple of days our kids have “chicken chores” where one of them will use a cat litter box scoop to scoop the chicken poop and place in the compost pile.
This litter box method is not required but we have found that it’s a life saver, helps keep their coop floor dry and helps prevent fly and insect problems.
I feel like I could go on for days listing the reasons you should keep backyard chickens and pointing out how easy it is. These are just a few of the essential things I’d point out to anyone interested. They need very little space, they’re very self sufficient and smart, they’re inexpensive to keep and their eggs can’t be beat in terms of flavor and nutrition.
Do you keep backyard chickens or have you been considering them? What’s holding you back?
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