If you’ve ever had a fresh egg from a backyard chicken, you know it is superior to anything you can buy in the grocery store. The yolks are much more brightly colored and tend to look almost orange in comparison to the pale yellow yolks of a store bought egg.
Benefits of Raising Your Own Chickens
There are many benefits to raising your own chickens. Here are a few things to know about why backyard flocks are a good idea:
- First is the fact that your own eggs are more nutritious than store bought ones because they are fresher than their grocery store counterparts that have been around for weeks.
- Chickens raised commercially are fed a cocktail of chemicals, antibiotics and hormones.
- Chickens grown without the use of chemicals and drugs taste better and are a healthier dietetic choice.
- Chickens are relatively inexpensive to raise and caring for chickens is a project that all but the very young members of the family can take part in.
- Chickens require much less attention than many animals. They don’t require much more than fresh food and water.
If you decide to allow your chickens to roam freely, you will have your own chemical-free source for bug and weed control. However, free roaming chickens can be a plague to your garden. Simply visit the hardware or farm supply store and purchase enough chicken wire and stakes to surround your garden plot.
If you plan to eat the eggs, you will need to take a few minutes out of each day to check the nests to gather the eggs. Some say it’s a good idea to mark one egg with a pencil so that it can remain in the nest when you take the other eggs away. This helps insure that the hen will return to the nest to lay more eggs. It also keeps you from grabbing the wrong egg and if you’ve ever opened a rotten egg or one that contains a developing chick, you know it is not something you want to repeat any time soon. An even better idea is to leave a wooden egg in the nest to keep the hen laying in the nesting boxes. They’ve been known to eat eggs if you leave them in the nest, and then you don’t even have to worry about grabbing the wrong egg.
Chicken Coop Designs
You should plan on providing shelter for your chickens in order to protect them from predators such as raccoons and foxes. There are two basic styles of chicken coops – those that are permanent or those that can be moved, often called chicken tractors.
If you do not have a moveable chicken pen, you will have to clean it out once every week or two. Clean out depends on the number of chickens being raised. When it is time to clean out a pen, be grateful because chicken manure, which is high in nitrogen, makes great garden fertilizer that breaks down pretty quickly. Chicken manure is strong, so it should be allowed to break down and used with compost so that it does not burn the garden plants or pass on any disease organisms to root or leaf crops (carrots or lettuces).
If you’re sold on the idea of getting your own chickens, don’t leap into the project until you check local government ordinances to make sure you are allowed to keep the cackling critters on your property. This is especially important in city areas, but developments built in agriculture zones may also have deed restrictions that do not allow keeping any type of “agricultural” animal. You may have a tough time convincing officials that you consider your flock of chickens to be your personal pets. Keep in mind roosters are much louder than the hens.
Want to learn more about raising backyard chickens?
Visit Raising Backyard Chickens by Mother Earth News for access to ordinances that govern whether or not you can have chickens in your backyard.
Here’s an informative site about raising chickens.
Visit this website to learn more about feeding your flock of chickens.