Ever Considered Backyard Chickens?


Photo by friendsoffamilyfarmers.

When people think of chickens, they picture tractors and plowed land as far as the eye can see. Well, I’m here to paint you a different picture. Chickens are one of the easiest animals to raise and care for on any size land. I’ve listed some great reasons to consider having backyard chickens of your own.

1. They require much less space than you would think to be healthy and happy, and are what we animal people refer to as easy keepers. That is, they don’t need a lot of food or labor-intensive tending.

2. Chickens make charming pets and are easy for every family member to handle. Kids can show them at the county fair or local 4H club. Ask around, you’ll be surprised at all the suburbanites that have a few feathered friends out back.

3. To be able to gather farm-fresh eggs for your family is reason enough to quit resisting. Free-range chickens lay eggs that are free of hormones, antibiotics, and don’t suffer from inhumane practices such as body-sized cages in overcrowded chicken ranches, cut-off beaks, and round the clock lighting that encourages more egg production.

4. Eggs laid by free-range chickens also contain more Omega 3s, vitamin A, beta-carotene, folic acid, and vitamin B-12.

5. Backyard chickens are also famous for the “other” stuff they leave behind; chicken manure. It’s a wonderful resource for farmers as a fertilizer and provides more nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to plants than traditional manures. Chicken manure adds organic matter while increasing beneficial biota in the soil.

5. You’ll save gobs of money by having your own organic, farm-fresh eggs. Naturally curious and generally docile, chickens also make great family pets with some breeds being more friendly than others. Children can show them and have them as 4H projects, as well. Chicken owners often remark on how relaxing it is to watch the steady pace of their hens with their soft clucking as they peck and scratch for food.

6. Owners also find the ticks disappear almost entirely from their yards as ticks, fly larva and bugs are a favorite snack for chickens. Chickens will also clear any area of weeds (and indeed, most small vegetation, including newly planted seedlings).

There’s really nothing quite as satisfying as gathering your own eggs from your own hen house or cracking an egg for your family’s breakfast and knowing just how fresh and wholesome that egg is. If you’re interested in keeping backyard chickens, check with your city ordinances first. However, I have found that most cities in the bay take a relaxed view of suburban chickens with little in the way of hard and fast laws.

Important Note: We’re talking about keeping hens in suburbia, not roosters.