I can remember when our neighbor asked us to watch their chickens while they were out of town. This was about five years ago. About a week into scraping poop off the board they used underneath the roosting area, wrangling the ones who always escaped and chugging through mud to fill buckets of water I realized that I really hated chickens.
Fast forward and we now have almost 50 egg layers. I can almost guarantee we’ll get more next year, in addition to raising our own meat birds. So what changed?
Eggs. I suppose it’s really that simple. We really wanted to get serious about raising the food we consume ourselves, and so our mindset had to change about raising our own birds.
Chickens are probably the most common first step into becoming a self-sufficient family. Honestly, they are very easy to take care of once you get a few basics down. I’m glad we got over our negative chicken experience, because we would have missed out on so many things had we not been willing to give it another chance.
And we’d still be eating eggs from the grocery store. No thank you.
Are you new to homesteading or considering raising your own backyard chickens? Here’s 10 reasons why we think that’s a great idea!
Reason One – They’ll Clean Up Your Kitchen Scraps
We have a rule in our house…no food gets thrown away. If it’s fruit or vegetables scraps they go into the compost pile. Everything else goes to the chickens. Our birds have the wonderful ability to turn kitchen scraps and stale bread into eggs. It’s like magic. And it keeps food from going to the landfill.
Reason Two – The Glorious Poop
In addition to turning kitchen scraps into eggs, chickens also create beautiful manure worth it’s weight in gold. We’ll clean out their coops every fall and spring and all the manure saturated bedding goes into the compost, where it breaks down before being applied to the garden beds. Plus, while our chickens free-range they fertilize the lawn. Who needs to buy fertilizer when you’ve got chickens?
Reason Three – Say Goodbye To Bugs
We dealt with fewer ticks this spring than I can remember since moving to Iowa. I’ll thank our chickens for that. They spend their afternoons ranging through the woods behind our house and scavenging through the tall grass all over the property plucking up every worm, beetle and whatever else they find. They are aggressive exterminators. No need to apply pesticides when you have chickens! They’ll even snatch a mouse or two from time to time, which is a bonus in my book.
Reason Four – You’ll Never Run Out of Entertainment
Reason Five – They’re Good For Kids
Raising chickens is a great way for kids to learn responsibility and how to care for a living thing. They can fill the feeder and water bucket. They can shovel out the coop. Every day they can collect eggs and make sure the coop is locked up at night. Our kids certainly play a part in the chicken experience. What a great way for kids to gain a better understanding of where their food comes from!
Reason Six – They’re a Gate Way Drug
I’m not sure this is really an advantage here, but thought I’d plug it in anyway. Because once your start with chickens you’re almost guaranteed to have goats, pigs, turkeys, guineas, rabbits or even a cow next. And there’s always room for more chickens. It’s science.
Reason Seven – The Garden Needs Tilled
Chickens are magnificent little creatures that have the natural instinct to turn the soil as they scavenge for food. Let them loose on a spent garden plot in the fall and within the week they will have cleaned up much of the remaining vegetation while fertilizing the soil. Or put them there in the spring for a day or two to disrupt the soil and get any of the emerging insects waiting to munch on your greens.
Reason Eight – You Can Sell the Eggs
Want to make a little extra money on the homestead? People love fresh eggs, and in our experience they will drive a good distance to get them too.
Reason Nine – You’ll Get the Neighbors Talking
And likely your family too. People will call you the crazy chicken lady (or chicken dude). They’ll think you’ve lost your mind. But really…who cares? You’re making a statement by getting your own chickens, and it’s an important one to make. You’re joining the food revolution. You’ll no longer support CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) eggs found on the grocery store aisle. This will allow for interesting discussion over holiday meals. Believe me, it’s fun.
Reason Ten – It Really Is All About the Eggs
I said it before…it’s all about the eggs, baby! Home grown eggs are more nutritious, more delicious and far more fun to eat than what you can buy at the grocery store. Even when compared to the “organic, cage free” eggs at Walmart that you’ll spend a fortune on.
So what are you waiting for? Still on the fence? Here’s what you need to do. Take a drive down to your local farm store, walk on back to where they keep the chicks and take a peek inside the brooders. Maybe even pick one up. That’s all you need to do. You’ll fall in love.
And the rest will be history!