If you are one of the thousands of people that started a backyard flock this year, you are in for a treat! Hopefully, you did plenty of research from reliable websites that provide science-based, fact-based, and study-based information like Chicken Whisperer Magazine. Even then, you still may not have learned about all the great benefits from raising a backyard flock of chickens.
Every year, I talk with hundreds of people while traveling the country spreading the chicken love, and I have narrowed down the many, many benefits of keeping a backyard flock of chickens to the following six most popular benefits.
If children are with adults when I ask why they have decided to start a backyard flock of chickens, the number one answer is education. They claim that children—sometimes their own—have absolutely no idea what it takes to get the food they eat from the farm to the table. Many claim their children can’t name the parts of a chicken (leg, wing, breast, thigh) because most of the chicken they eat comes in a nugget. Some claim they have never seen anything but a white egg, and that egg comes from a carton at a grocery store.
So, parents want to be able to show their children a small part of where their food comes from, and the work involved in that task.
Two: Knowing where their food comes from
The second most popular answer is that they want to know where their food comes from. They feel like if they know what’s going into their chickens, they will know the quality of the product coming from their chickens. But there is more than that. Many in this group also claim they want to raise their birds naturally, organically, more humanely, without antibiotics and other additives they believe are added to the products they purchase in the store. They may even be part of the “green movement” that started many years ago.
At this point, depending how much research they have really done on raising a backyard flock of chickens, these two reasons may be the only benefits they cite. However, I have found the longer people keep backyard chickens, more experienced backyard chicken keepers often mention four more.
Chicken are great composters. They will in most cases eat everything off your plate breakfast, lunch, and dinner that you did not finish. This can be tricky, because you really don’t want food scraps, treats, and snacks to be more than 10% of their daily ration of a nutritionally-balanced feed. Everything they consume from your plate is that much less food waste and biomass going into the landfills across America.
What do the chickens do with all that food waste they consume? They make incredible fertilizer for your garden. People all across America purchase chicken manure for their gardens either from chicken farms or from farm and garden stores. Now, in most cases you can’t just add fresh chicken manure to a garden because it’s too “hot” and too high in nitrogen that will burn your plants.
However, adding the fresh chicken manure to your backyard compost bin or compost pile is a great idea! I have personally added fresh chicken manure to our garden several times. I just spread a light coating down the walking paths between the rows. As it ages, and as it rains, the nutrients drain into the plant rows. I have had great success with this method, but you still have to be careful not to add too much.
Five: All-natural insect control
Chickens love to scratch around in the backyard. What are they looking for? Food! And what food do they find other than weeds, grass, leaves, and plants? Yep, you guessed it—bugs! They will eat all kinds of bugs including, but not limited to, ticks, grubs, roaches, spiders, grass hoppers, crickets, ants, mosquitos, and many others.
While insects can be a disease vector for chickens—meaning they can contribute to some illness and disease for your flock—it’s virtually impossible to prevent this natural instinct. Some claim their backyard chicken flock does such a good job at keeping the insect population down, they have since canceled regular contracts with exterminating companies.
Yes, your backyard chickens can be very entertaining. If you spend any amount of time in chicken forums, you will often see people use the term Chicken TV, because people will sit on their back porch or back deck for hours being entertained by just watching their flock in their backyard. People often claim that watching their chicken is very therapeutic for them.
I also include “great pets” in this sixth benefit because it goes hand-in-hand with entertainment. After starting a backyard flock of chickens, people soon get attached to their flock, name the birds, and spoil them rotten. The chickens become very tame and will often come running to see what treat or snack their owners are bringing them. They may even fly up to their shoulder to get closer to the treat bag, or to get the first tasty morsel.
You might find one of your chickens will walk up and fly up to just sit in your lap, wanting you to pet it. People soon realize that their backyard chickens are just as apart of their family as their cats and dogs.
And many more
By no means are these six the only benefits of keeping a backyard flock of chickens. After traveling the country for a decade, and talking with thousands of people, the top six benefits come up time after time from both beginners and the experienced chicken keepers.
Until Next Time…
Power to the Poultry!