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In the past few years, many people have become interested in the benefits of raising chickens.
Adorable chicken coop designs, enticing colorful egg pictures, and people being obsessed with their chickens entices more people to become backyard chicken owners.
Are you considering having your own flock of chickens? Read through this list of pros and cons list to help you make an informed decision.
Benefits of Raising Chickens
The most obvious benefit of raising chickens is the abundance of fresh, organic eggs you’ll have regularly.
Fresh eggs are better than any eggs you can buy at the grocery store. With eggs from your backyard chickens, you avoid excessive shelf life issues or even what might have happened to the eggs during processing or shipping.
Plus, free range eggs just taste better!
Health benefits of fresh eggs
Fresh eggs are not only healthier because they are organic.
They also contain less saturated fat than store-bought eggs due to the nature of backyard versus factory farming. Backyard chickens are healthier chickens so they produce healthier eggs.
Not to mention, if you have kids, egg collection time every day can be a fun chore!
Why Chicken Manure is Good to Have
Chicken manure is the best addition to your garden, believe it or not.
It provides a slow-release source of macro- and micronutrients. In addition to acting as a soil amendment, chicken manure is higher in nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and calcium than other manures.
Green leafy vegetables like spinach, arugula, and lettuce benefit most from chicken manure, but you’ll find your whole garden will improve with its use. Flower beds can even benefit from chicken manure.
You can create a compost pile and add it as needed. Many chicken owners use the pine shaving and chicken manure mixture from their coop to fertilize fruit trees and other plants.
Chicken manure combined with the pine shavings or other bedding in their coop make amazing additions to compost.
Those who compost will get very excited about the opportunity to have some chicken waste to add to their rotation.
Chickens control weeds
Chickens are a great natural weed killer.
As they wander around the yard scratching and picking at the ground for insects, they both pull up weeds and eat them. They also eat weed seeds in the process.
Chickens make good family pets
With the exception of an aggressive rooster, chickens make great companion animals for both children and adults.
If your chickens are handled frequently from the time they are chicks, they will be friendly and welcome being handled by anyone.
Chickens can even learn their names and come running when you call for them.
Egg shells can be used for other purposes
There are many uses for egg shells.
Cleaned and crushed egg shells are often used to give plants an extra calcium boost, as a natural pest repellant for gardens, as a vessel to start seedlings and many more uses.
Shows kids how to raise and care for animals
Like any other pet, chickens are a great way to teach young children how to raise and care for animals.
First, they form a clear association from where some of their food comes from, which is a big disconnection in many children’s lives with our food system these days.
On top of that important takeaway, they learn how to be responsible for one of the most important things, the life of something other than themselves. It’s a good idea to encourage kids to learn the rewards of caring for something like chickens.
If you’re looking for ways to inch more toward sustainable living by producing as much of your own food as possible or even off-grid living, raising chickens is a good next step.
Chickens do require work, but they are fairly low maintenance as far as farm animals go. Having a constant source of food with little expense is a plus for anyone seeking a more sustainable lifestyle.
Chickens are wonderful natural pest control.
They are always on the hunt for insects. Let them loose in your yard and they’ll peck around for them all day long.
If you have a vegetable garden near your chickens, they will help protect your plants from pesky insects that ruin your vegetables before you have the chance to eat them.
They’re after grasshoppers, snails, and other insects that might hurt your garden. They also go for mosquitoes and even ticks, making your backyard a little more comfortable in the summer.
Less Food Waste
Chickens reduce waste by eating most of your kitchen scraps. They will also be happy to munch on any overflow you have from your garden.
Chickens will help you stay mindful of food waste and keep you looking for new ways to prevent waste wherever possible.
You can earn some extra cash
If you end up with more chicken eggs than you can handle, you can always sell them.
There are always people willing to buy your excess fresh eggs. So many people love the idea of fresh eggs but either can’t or don’t want to have their own chickens.
It’s easy to end up with too many eggs because it’s easy to end up with more chickens than originally intended.
Ask any chicken owner about chicken math. Lack of egg production is not one of the problems you typically have as a chicken owner.
Reduced risk of salmonella poisoning
The best way to ensure that your eggs are as healthy as they can be is to get them from your own backyard.
The poor hygiene conditions and close quarters of any given factory farm are breeding grounds for infection and diseases.
Although all chickens can carry salmonella-forming bacteria, it has been found to be much less common in organic, barn, and free-range chickens.
I already mentioned factory farming provides less than stellar conditions for animals.
One less person supporting factory farming, or at least a faction of it, by raising their own chickens is always a plus.
Combatting rising food costs
Many people are considering their own backyard chickens now because of the rise in food costs.
Actually, this is one of the popular benefits of raising chickens.
Chickens for therapy
Believe it or not, many people find chickens therapeutic. They make great substitutes for people who cannot afford or care for a therapy dog.
Chickens are entertaining
Chicken owners often talk about just sitting and watching their chickens. Believe it or not, they are pretty entertaining animals.
Chickens can farm for you
Sustainable farms are using chickens more and more as part of the workers on their farm.
Using chicken tractors, which are basically mobile chicken pens, they move the chickens around to different areas of their property.
While in each spot, the chickens essentially clear the area of weeds and fertilize it at the same time. Then, it’s on to the next spot!
Ease of breeding
If you’d like to expand your flock without purchasing more chickens, it’s quite easy to have chicks of your own. By keeping one rooster, the chickens will take care of the rest for you.
Chickens go “broody” periodically, which basically means they want to become chicken moms. They decide to sit on eggs.
About 21 days later, the chicks hatch! Besides making sure the chicks have access to food and water they can reach, the chicken mom takes care of the rest!
Many chicken owners talk about chicken math.
It’s said that once you have a few chickens you’ll just want more and more.
The benefit of chickens is that, depending on the size of your coop, you can have several chickens and it doesn’t mean more work.
In fact, many people enjoy picking different types or breeds of chickens that lay different colored eggs.
Now that we’ve looked at 20 benefits of raising chickens, let’s look at the difficulties.
Cons to Raising Chickens
There’s two sides to everything; right? Is suppose it’s no different when it comes to the benefits of raising chickens. It’s not always rainbows and cupcakes (or fresh eggs).
The expense of chickens
Chickens definitely aren’t the most expensive animals you could raise, but the start up costs can land on the higher side. Keep in mind that you don’t have to have a Pinterest worthy coop, but even supplies to build your own very basic coop can add up.
Feed costs can be offset by how much scraps your chickens get from your kitchen and also by how much overflow you have if you grow a vegetable garden annually.
They make a lot of noise
Some chickens will be louder than others, for instance, a rooster may make noise all day. Hens can also make a lot of noise, but they tend to keep fairly quiet unless they have just laid an egg.
One of the most frustrating parts of raising chickens is the rodents that your chicken coop and feed will attract.
Rats aren’t attracted to chickens, but they are interested in chicken feed, eggs, and a nice cozy place to live.
You chickens will need regular attention.
You’ll need to collect eggs, feed, and check water daily. You probably won’t have to replace or refill water daily, but you should always keep an eye on it and make sure it’s clean.
Cleaning the coop is a weekly task that requires shoveling chicken manure and bedding and replacing it with fresh bedding.
A total clean-out should be done at least twice a year, possibly more depending on your coop.
Finding a chicken sitter for vacations
Chickens make great pets but they are a little more challenging logistically than say a dog.
You can’t find a chicken friendly hotel on vacation, you have to find someone willing to come to your house daily to check on and care for your chickens while you’re gone.
Alternatively, you could hire a house sitter who will also care for your chickens. Someone like this can be difficult to find, not to mention costly.
Attracting wildlife predators of chickens
Wildlife predators are a big concern for chicken owners.
Foxes, coyotes, raccoons, dogs, mink, owls, some hawks, and even bears are attracted to a chicken coop. It’s not just the chickens and baby chicks they’re after, it’s the eggs too.
Not only will you have more wildlife in your outdoor spaces, but you’ll also always have to lockdown your chicken coop to keep your chickens and eggs protected at all times.
It’s also important to keep an eye on them when they’re grazing in your open yard since some hawks may try swoop down and carry one of them away.
Dealing with broody hens
Broody hens are a tough hurdle at times.
A broody hen is one who decides she would like to hatch some of her eggs. She sits on them for an extended period of time, allowing her body temperature to increase and often consuming less food and water than she would normally.
If you want your hen to hatch some fertilized eggs, this is just fine. If you want to keep your chicken population to a minimum, this is frustrating. You’ll have to steal your hen’s eggs from her, basically forcing her off of them so she can’t accomplish her task.
Sick or Old Chickens
Chickens sometimes get killed or injured, become ill, or just get up there in age to the point where they won’t produce the eggs they used to.
It can be difficult to care for sick chickens and, although it doesn’t happen often, veterinarian care for chickens is difficult to find and can be costly.
Once a hen gets old and slows down or stops producing eggs, many people find it difficult to make room for younger hens who will continuously produce eggs.
Chickens take up space
You won’t need that much space, especially if you just have a small flock of chickens, but you do have to make sure your chickens have a reasonable amount of room.
This could mean losing a good amount of space in your backyard, especially in urban areas.
Within your hen house, you need to give a minimum of 2 to 3 square feet of space and up to 10 feet per bird outside. Overcrowding causes things like such as stress, pecking, and sickness.
As you learned, there are many wonderful benefits of raising chickens, but there are also some cons.
Overall, keeping chickens can be a wonderful and beneficial experience, as long as you’re prepared!
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