As more cities jump on the backyard chicken bandwagon, you might be wondering if you should consider raising chickens for eggs too. Here are reasons you might want to make this the year to start your flock!
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Why You Might Consider Raising Chickens for Eggs
There are so many reasons to start raising chickens for eggs. While the eggs by themselves are wonderful, they are not the only reason to care for a flock of chickens. If you’re on the fence about taking the chicken plunge, here are several reasons we love to raise them on our little homestead.
1. Family bonding / learning experience
There is not much cuter than baby chicks. Their peeping is precious, and the potential is enormous. Chicks have taught my family so many useful skills. Together, we have learned how to be mindful of the creatures we bring to our homestead. We’ve cuddled them, fed them, cleaned the poop off their butts, and watched them grow and give back to us! They’ve also taught us valuable lessons about raising our own food, and life and death as well.
2. Hours of entertainment
Chickens might have a reputation for being bird brains, but they provide hours of fun for people who take the time to watch. We love learning the true meaning behind so many chicken sayings. There is a true pecking order in chicken flocks. Some chickens are indeed hen-pecked. And the rooster may crow, but the hen delivers the goods!
3. Variety of colors
If you’ve ever compared a farm-fresh egg to a store-bought egg, you will be amazed at the difference. Farm-fresh eggs from your backyard chicken flocks come in so many spectacular colors. Chickens lay eggs in almost every color of the rainbow. I was mind blown when I first found out there are more colors than white and brown. Green, blue, pink, speckled, dark brown, cream – so many lovely shades of farm-fresh eggs.
4. Quality of eggs
Not only are the outside colors different, but you’ll find differences inside the eggs too. Chickens are natural carnivores and a varied diet gives yolks a brilliant and rich orange color and helps firm up the egg whites too. While I haven’t really found much of a difference in taste, farm-fresh and store-bought eggs are just not the same.
5. Reduce the amount of food waste you send to the landfill
Did you know that a huge amount of food goes to the landfill? You can reduce the amount of waste you throw out by feeding it to your chickens. They eat a lot of different types of food that would otherwise end up rotting elsewhere. Our chickens love to eat melon rinds, beans, most fruits and veggies, leftover eggs if there are ever any, and pasta and bread too. I love being able to give the chickens my food waste!
6. Free fertilizer for your garden
And not only do the chickens eat my compost, but their own poop makes the perfect garden fertilizer! Chicken manure is very high in nitrogen and also calcium. You do need to let the chicken poop mellow for several months before you use it, though. Three to four months is the minimum time it takes to clear the pathogens (salmonella, E.coli etc) that could be in the manure, but six months is recommended. I clean out my coop in the fall and put the manure right on my garden. Since I won’t be plant for at least six months, the manure has plenty of time to stop producing pathogens.
7. Eggcellent tilling of your garden
While I don’t always want chickens in my garden because they can be pests, I do like to let them in sometimes. Their scratching is an excellent way to till your soil!
8. Pest control
Finally, chickens are amazing at keeping the bug population down. They’ll eat grubs, Japanese beetles, tomato horn worms, and I even catch ours eating mice from time to time. They are great help beyond simply providing eggs!
9. Extra source of income
Another benefit to raising chickens for eggs is selling excess eggs! I’ve found multi-colored farm fresh eggs to be in great demand and selling them earns me a little money to buy more chicken feed and treats.
Cons of raising chickens for eggs
While there are a lot of pros, there are also a few cons to raising chickens that you might want to consider. We have found the benefits to outweigh them, but you should still know what you’re getting yourself into.
- Some cities do not allow backyard chickens, so make sure to check your local zoning laws.
- You will need space to house them, generally 4-4.5 square feet per bird if you intend to keep them inside.
- You’ll need some sort of chicken coop to keep them warm, dry, and safe from predators.
- While some varieties and do free range very well, you will still have to buy them food, especially in the winter when there is nothing for them to forage.
- You’ll need someone to take care of them when you go on vacation.
- Cleaning the coop is a chore. It doesn’t have to happen all that often, but at least a couple times a year, someone will have to deep clean the coop.
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Do you have another reason for raising chickens for eggs that I didn’t mention? Please share!