Backyard Chickens. It sounds so simple but feels so daunting. The truth is, once you get the set-up out of the way, the rest is all about riding the wave. It adds so many facets to the use and enjoyment of your yard and the time you spend outdoors, especially if you have kids. Our family has kept chickens for eight years now, and I’ve learned a lot about this awesome hobby. Here are a few things to know.
1. Keeping chickens does not save you money on eggs.
When you factor in all the start-up costs, it is more expensive to collect your own. So, if you’re interested in this for the savings, it’s best to go to the farmer’s market for fresh eggs.
2. Chickens are truly domestic pets.
They get to know and love their yard, those caring for them, and their coop. They will follow you around, stay in their yard, return to their coop when you ask them to, and sit on your lap for snuggles. Chickens are social creatures, and they need companions.
3. It is beneficial to have two or more chickens.
Chickens don’t lay eggs every single day. Sometimes they lay two eggs each per day, and sometimes they may skip a day or two. But since you will be collecting eggs that stay fresh for weeks, you can rest assured that a simple and healthy meal is always a crack away.
Chickens offer more to your family than just their eggs. They offer several sustainable or “green” solutions to daily living and a bonding ritual.
If you don’t like to compost, chickens are a fabulous solution to this dilemma. They eat almost anything, reducing the pounds of food scraps your family might send each week to landfills. No more pesky compost bins that require a trip to the collection site or bulky composting machines on your counter.
Because they scratch around in your lawn, they aerate it! Your lawn will look brighter and greener without adding anything extra to your landscaping routine. They also eat “bad” bugs in the soil, such as grubs, so the health of the soil increases when those invaders are kept away.
And lastly, never underestimate how much you will enjoy the ritual of collecting eggs from the nesting box with your kids and visitors. Our kids have grown up caring for their chickens and collecting their eggs. At almost five and seven years old, their daily trip out to the yard to say hi to the chickens, feed them fresh herbs and greens, and collect their eggs is still among their favorite activities.
When the chickens are out of the coop, our girls love “babysitting them,” which really amounts to helping the chickens find worms and petting their feathers as they play in the garden side by side. Priceless memories.