If you’ve ever wondered if you should get chickens, let me help push you over the edge! 😉 There are many benefits to keeping a backyard flock, but here are my top 10 reasons why YOU should get chickens:
10. They’re hilarious to watch
If you’ve ever seen a flock of chickens fight over spaghetti or chase after a grasshopper, you know what I mean. They love to play, too. You can buy treat balls, xylophones, and even swings for chickens! Their antics can literally keep you entertained for hours. If you raise them from chicks it’s even more fun. They grow so quickly, changing from tiny fluffballs into awkward teenage chickens, and then into beautiful adults. There’s something new every day!
9. They’re intelligent and curious
Chickens sometimes get a bad reputation for being dumb, but in reality they’re quite smart. God made them to inherently know how to take care of themselves. For instance, they know whether something is safe to eat or not. (Tomatoes = safe. Tomato leaves = not safe.) They know when to head into the coop for the night, where to go to lay eggs, and how to stay safe from predators. They see colors better than humans can, and they can even play instruments! (Did you see the piano-playing chicken on America’s Got Talent?) Most chickens can also play a xylophone with their beak, and will purposely jingle bells or keys for the sound.
8. You can collect breeds like stamps
There are literally hundreds of chicken breeds to choose from, and discovering the unique joys of each breed can be almost addictive! (Oops, did I say that? Don’t tell my husband.) Whether you want eggs in every color of the rainbow, miniature chickens, chickens with funny hair-do’s or ones with feathered feet… There’s a breed for every person and personality!
7. You will suddenly make new friends
Did you know there are all kinds of online groups for chicken owners? Groups for backyard chickens, specific breeds, location, you name it. And they’re some of the friendliest people you will meet! Don’t believe me? Join a group and ask a question. Or better yet, go to your local fair or poultry show and talk to someone about their birds. You’ll have a new best friend in no time! You will also be surprised by how many people are interested in buying fresh eggs from you, if you have enough to share.
6. They fertilize your lawn and help make compost for your garden
If you free-range your chickens, they will naturally fertilize your grass for you. Chicken poop is high in nitrogen, and people pay good money to buy bags of chicken manure fertilizer. But if you let your flock out for even a few hours a day, you will see lovely lawn benefits – for free! Just watch your step.
As an alternate or supplement to free ranging your fertilizer, you can add it to your compost pile. Because it’s so high in nitrogen, your best bet is to let the manure “age” for a while before adding it. Or you can simply add more “browns” to even out the “green” manure. Check out my post on composting for more information.
5. They offer free pest control
Chickens love to eat icky and annoying bugs in your yard. They’ll happily devour spiders, mosquitoes, ticks, beetles, crickets… almost everything. I even put them to work eating caterpillars from my garden! We’ve had almost zero mosquito bites this year (and the ones we did get were from camping). This was also the first summer that we didn’t see a single tick, on our kids or our dog. Now if I could just get them to eat those horrible tiny pirate bugs…
4. They’ll help teach your kids about animals and life
One great reason you should get chickens is actually for your children. I believe that all kids benefit from spending time with animals. It’s important for kids to learn to think of and care for someone outside themselves. It teaches them responsibility and compassion, towards animals and even other people. Hatching your own eggs can be an incredible learning experience for you and your kids! Your children might like to get involved with a 4H group, or enter their animals in the fair.
Of course, there’s the downside to raising animals, too – sometimes something goes wrong, and an animal doesn’t make it. While this is sad, death is a part of life. Your kids can benefit from being exposed to death in the safety and love of your family while they’re still young. It’s better for them to learn how to grieve well on a small scale with an animal first, than with a beloved family member later on.
3. They make good companions
Chickens are generally very gentle, patient animals. (Check out my breed chart to see which ones are the friendliest.) They make great pets, and are especially loving if you’ve raised them from chicks. They’re soft, sweet, and will come running when they see you coming! This may or may not have to do with you being the treat-bearer.
2. Fresh eggs!
Of course most people would say this is the #1 reason you should get chickens. Whether you’re on a farm or in a suburban neighborhood, eggs are the biggest draw for raising chickens. You can’t beat an egg straight from the hen! They’re delicious and full of protein and other nutrients. They come in a convenient little package, and don’t even need to be refrigerated! And sometimes they are downright beautiful.
1. For the joy of it
This is truly MY number one reason for getting chickens – just for the joy of it! I believe you should get chickens for the joy of it, too. While fresh eggs are amazing, you can always buy them from the store or a farm for a few bucks. The real draw of chickens is all of the above reasons, put together! I’ve loved chickens my whole life, since I was a young girl gathering eggs from my great-grandmother’s hen house. This year I took the leap and got my own chickens, just to add some happy to my life. And it worked! You just can’t have a bad day when you’re loving on some fluffybutts.
These are the top ten reasons why *I* think you should get chickens. What would you add to this list?