Backyard poultry keeping has become all the rage. Pinterest is loaded with photos of adorable coops, cuddly hens, and sweet fluffy chicks. I even know more than one person who keeps chickens. What is the fascination with gallus gallus?
I strongly recommend you read the book Hen and the Art of Chicken Maintenance. It’s an English point of view, but still valid. This couple learned to appreciate the different personalities of their hens and mourned the loss of any bird.
There’s always the draw of having fresh eggs on command, every morning. One of my backyard chicken raiser friends sells her excess eggs regularly. She never makes back what she spends on keeping the chickens, but she does earn, ha ha, egg money. And she’s never had to recall her eggs.
A single hen will gladly eat the fruit, veggies, omelets, cheese, bread, etc. that no longer meets your high standards of edible. In return, she will poop out valuable fertilizer. How awesome is that? Well, it’s even better that it keeps that food out of the landfills, and you can mix the poop with yard wastes to make compost, again saving space in the landfills.
Whether you have an edible landscape in your back yard, or the usual grass and flower beds, or even a full service vegetable and herb garden, chickens will eat insects, some weeds, and clean up after you harvest your veggies. This saves you on pesticides, time pulling weeds and cleaning up the bed for the next season, and gives you more fertilizer. Are you seeing a down side? How about this to tip the scales: Chickens love to eat ticks. Oh, yes, if you have ever had Lyme disease, or know anyone who has, you will be all over this advantage.
But my favorite benefit of poultry in the backyard is similar to my love of all my birds. They are awesome antidepressants. If you hear a broody hen clucking and cooing, you have to smile. If you are lucky enough to have one that likes to let you pet and hug her, you will be smiling all day.
It’s sad that our companion animals don’t live forever, or even as long as we do. As in dogs, smaller breeds of chickens will live longer. And you have to understand that hens don’t lay eggs for 6 to 12 years they are alive. They peak at 18 months, and generally stop around age 2. Which is why you have to value them for more than eggs. The gardening, recycling and fertilizing, the insect control, the love and companionship will go on forever.
These web sites may help you decide:
Be sure to check the laws in your city on keeping poultry. Remember that roosters are another problem entirely. And good luck with your endeavors. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.