What is the first thought that comes to mind when you think of having chickens? Eggs – right? While most people keep chickens for eggs on a farm or even in the cities now they actually do have some other purposes that you might consider.
Chickens are bug eaters – whether you have two or twenty chickens they can eat an amazing amount of bugs! They will spend the day hunting down every insect available including earwigs, spiders, slugs and yellow jackets as well as the less annoying pests. Chickens don’t seem to have any preferences and will eat anything that moves slithers or crawls. I’ve even seen mine go after mice and larger pests. If you have other livestock they will also eat the flies that are attracted to animal pens and sift through areas where the eggs are laid to eat the fly larvae. Having chickens around means you don’t have to apply pesticides to your yard.
Chickens are amazing fertilizers – Chickens offer a good amount of fertilizer. You can compost their droppings directly from the chicken coop or let them run in the garden area you plan on planting. Not only will they fertilize the ground of any pen they are in but they will also eat all the existing plants and seeds reducing the amount of weeds you have. Even better, if you put your compost pile where your chickens have access to it they will eat many of the scraps you throw into it and keep the rest of the pile constantly turned and free of pests. Chickens will break down a compost pile a lot faster than you could hope to by yourself.
Chickens are entertaining – That’s right – chickens are fun! Those little (or not so little depending on breed) fluffy birds each have their own distinct personality. They are fun to watch and take care of. The amount of care they need is actually very minimal and you may find yourself watching them interact with each other. You can get large chickens or miniature chickens and they come in many different colors. My personal favorite is watching the broody hens run around with their chicks. Chickens are amazingly protective and dedicated mothers. Several of my chickens will fly up and sit on my shoulders when I walk in their pen and enjoy being petted.
Chickens make a great hobby – Chickens can be fun to collect and make a great hobby for kids and adults both. Put your children into your local 4H program. Even if you don’t personally eat eggs they can be sold or given away (thumbs up for not supporting the horrible conditions of mass produced eggs). Another option is to look for older hens that don’t lay eggs very often. A hen can live up to 16 years, but really only produces eggs steadily for a few of those years. Pick up some retired birds and provide them with a longer lifespan than they might have had otherwise.
Do you keep chickens? Let us know what you do with yours.
Jessica Wick is one of our very own E3Live employees, she enjoys teaching her three children about organic gardening, has a horse, a goat, 2 dogs and a flock of chickens that also love E3Live!