There are so many great reasons to own chickens. Yet, we were on the fence for a while about whether or not we would actually BUY them ourselves. You hear that it’s not all that hard to keep them, but sometimes the amount of information available on chicken keeping can be rather overwhelming to read!
So, we hemmed and hawed about how we would make it work- how would we build the coop? Where would we keep it? Which breed should we get? Which methods of chicken care would work for us?
When we finally bought our first small flock of chickens, I was of course excited to bring them home. However, I did not expect how much I would come to enjoy having them. Our little hobby has turned into a surprising passion!
Here’s thirty reasons that I came up with to start- I’m quite certain there are more though. 😉
- They’re easy to care for.
- You can make their home fairly self-managing for several days at a time.
- They’re fairly cheap. (Cheaper than your average dog or cat, and they at least give you something back!)
- They lay eggs.
- You can cook their eggs and eat them.
- Free range farm eggs are MUCH better for you than supermarket eggs.
- You can control what goes into your own chickens’ diet. (But you can’t with grocery poultry and eggs!)
- They’re fun to watch.
- They fertilize your soil.
- They aerate your soil.
- They eat ticks.
- They eat bugs.
- Did I mention they keep down the bug population?
- They eat your kitchen scraps.
- They help move your compost pile along.
- They’re charming. Am I right?
- Cock-a-doodle-doo is a pleasing sound. So long as you don’t have too many roosters.
- They eat weeds.
- They make your kids laugh.
- They provide a good learning experience for your kids.
- They are a beautifully common example of the cycle of life we see everywhere.
- You can eat them.
- You can preserve chicken meat via your freezer or pressure canner, so you can store your homegrown poultry easily.
- Free-range meat is much healthier for you than store-bought meat. And you won’t be paying an exorbitant price for it.
- They reproduce. Renewable food source, anyone?
- Chicks are cute and fluffy.
- They are an easy way to provide some self-sufficiency to your home.
- When you’re a chicken owner, you’re in the minority of the American population. So you can feel some elitism in being part of the chicken club. Until you rake out their poop, then you don’t feel so elite. Oh, wait, onto the reasons you WANT chickens…
- On the other hand, they’re one of the oldest and most widespread backyard animals throughout the world. So you can feel like you’re part of a larger heritage that has gone before you, scooping poop along with you in spirit.
- They help you learn some traditional skills. Like caring for animals, hatching and raising chicks, and butchering and preserving your own food.
All joking aside, these birds have been wonderful to have. if you’re a chicken owner, why do you love your chickens? What reasons would you give someone to make the jump to chicken ownership?
Have you ever wondered how chickens and gardens help each other out? If you’re a seasoned chicken keeper, I’m sure you already know. If you’re not, now you can learn how chickens and gardens join hands (er, wings?) in the “circle of life.” Yes, I did intend to get the song stuck in your head. You’re welcome.
All cheesiness aside, chickens and gardens can be a wonderful pair. The garden has been our birds’ autumn home, and they each provide some give and take for each other.
When the first frost was inevitable, we harvested the last of our crops and opened the chicken coop up inside the fenced garden area. In the weeks that followed, our birds took to pecking, scratching, and trampling through the remainder of the plants that stayed in the garden. They got the benefit of the garden scraps while they performed the labor of post-season soil aeration and fertilization for us. Thank you, gentle fowl.
After the leaves fell from our tress, the hubby took great loads of them to the garden and spread them about. Hello, rich compost! Plus the birds get to enjoy all of those little bugs that thrive in dying organic material. Both the birds and the dirt get nourishment for the winter.
Remember all of those garden goods we preserved? Now, when we take them out to prepare them, we put the scraps into our compost buckets. The compost buckets get tossed to the chickens. The birds pick through what they like of that, and work the remains into the soil as well.
And what will become of all of it? Our garden will be chock full of nutrients to help our plants grow big and strong. Our chickens will give us healthy, free-range eggs for our family. Perhaps we’ll even get some chicks in the future if they decide to be broody! And eventually, our current birds will become a wholesome food source for our family as well.
And the joy of it? It can start over again each year. New plants for the chickens in the spring to eat, new chicks to grow happy and healthy, new food for the soil, and new food for us, from both the garden and the birds. The giving is cyclical, and the cycle fosters gratitude.
We are thankful for the provision these birds can give. Nothing will be wasted, and all will be appreciated.
Ameraucanas are a relatively rare breed of chicken, but one growing in popularity (at least in our area). And why not? They’re sweet-tempered birds that lay pretty blue eggs. We recently purchased six Ameraucanas to start our chicken flock, and so far we have been enjoying our little birds very much.
It was from the Chilean birds, Araucanas, that Americaunas were bred. While Araucanas are tail-less & muffed, Ameraucanas have a pretty tail, muffs, (think earmuffs) and a beard. Pretty fancy. Ameraucanas also carry some other important traits of their predecessors- they are cold hardy (with only a little pea comb- it doesn’t freeze so easily as other chickens with big ones), blue egg layers, and a decent (though not ideal) dual-purpose bird (eggs & meat). They come in a variety of colors to boot.
Here are three (oh, four- one is hiding) of our beauties at about 11 weeks old:
So far, they are a little shy and skittish, but who can blame them after being transferred into a strange place with strange people? I hear that they get more curious and confident as they get older. They’re still sweet and will calm down a bit when you hold them gently. We’ve got them in our chicken tractor in the part of the garden that’s died down now so they can work up the soil and fertilize it for us for next year.
For further reading/to purchase birds, check out:
- Ameraucana Breeder Club
- Ameraucanas (Backyard Poultry Magazine)
- My Pet Chicken
- Americaunas (on Wikipedia)
- The Chicken Whisperer’s Guide to Keeping Chickens: Everything You Need to Know . . . and Didn’t Know You Needed to Know About Backyard and Urban Chickens (Affiliate link- this is a book my dad bought us about a year ago and it’s been very helpful in planning our flock.)
Chicken owners, what’s your favorite breed? Ameraucana owners, is there anything you wish you had known when you bought your first birds? This first time chicken-owner would love to hear back from you.