As you can probably tell already, we LOVE our backyard hens. Today, I wanted to tell y’all a few reasons why we love raising our girls, which are also reasons you might want to raise some ladies of your own.
- They are hilarious. Plain and simple: they will make you laugh. They each have their own unique personalities that start showing through when they are just chicks. Our girls, for example, are all different. Chloe is a fighter. She will probably outlive us all. I’ve said before that if we have a farm in the future we will have to name it after her because she has been so tenacious in her life, surviving a few attacks, living alone for a short period despite chickens being social creatures and enduring a move in the heat of the summer. Reba is a chicken lover. She isn’t crazy about getting to know us, but she is never far from her chicken sisters, almost always walking alongside one of them. And she is fast. Even when she was a chick, she was the hardest to catch. Suzy couldn’t be sweeter. The girl loves people. She is always the first to greet us and is great with kids. One of her favorite activities is hanging out on one of our outstretched arms or shoulders (and occasionally her dad’s head).
- They are beautiful creatures. Chickens come in all sorts of different colors and sizes, which makes it really fun when you are selecting your backyard chicks. No matter the breed, they always seem to have adorable fluffy bottoms!
- They produce the freshest eggs. This is why most people raise backyard chickens. It’s the original reason why we wanted to raise backyard chickens. You can’t find a fresher egg. Raising chickens allows you to select the best feed and to know, for the most part, what your girls are eating. I say for the most part because they will eat insects and worms, so you won’t know everything they are eating, but you can ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need. You will notice the taste difference right away, and the color is undeniable. Healthy chickens produce eggs with vibrant orange yolks. For more information on specific nutrition differences between industrial and pasture raised eggs, check out this Mother Earth News article.
- They allow you to connect with your food. Most of us were raised going to the grocery store to get our food. At some point we learned that eggs come from chickens, but we didn’t know much else. At least, I didn’t. Having chickens has made me more grateful for the food we eat and the chickens we raise.
- They are teachers. I have learned so much raising backyard chickens, from how to care for chicks to how to store fresh eggs. When we first got chickens, we both got this question a lot: “So, do you have to have a rooster to get eggs?” Before having chickens, I wouldn’t have known the answer (which is no). Hens, on average, produce about 290 eggs per year regardless of whether there is a rooster around or not.
- They are sustainable. They are sustainable for two main reasons: they eliminate waste, and they fertilize and till your soil. Our girls LOVE our kitchen scraps. Their favorites include cold watermelon rind in the summer, carrot stems and the ends of romaine. They will even eat the shells of their own eggs after you have enjoyed the deliciousness inside as it provides them with the calcium they need. After eating their treats, they will go to the bathroom, and their manure will increase the richness of your soil. Chickens love to scratch around which will help your soil as well. Some folks even build their chicken coops to be placed on top of their garden beds so their chickens can till the soil for them at the end of the season.
If you are interested in raising your own, here are a few suggestions to help you decide:
- Go check out some chicks! Lots of cities are hosting chicken coop tours these days. Typically, the chicken owners are available to answer all sorts of questions, and you can check out all their coops and chickens have to offer. Check your city to see if there’s one happening near you.
- Read up! Lots of sites out there listing reasons to own chickens mention that they are really easy to take care of, and while that is somewhat true, it’s important that you are prepared. Here’s a great book that gives you an inside scoop, from how to raise chicks in your house to how to build a coop! In addition, The Chicken Chick website is packed with great information for you!