Why raise your own backyard chickens?
Why should you raise your own backyard chickens? Well, there are quite a few up and downsides to farming chickens, and it is not for everyone. So if you are thinking about farming your own backyard chickens, have a look at my list of benefits and drawbacks.
What are the benefits of raising backyard chickens?
Raising your own chickens comes with a few obvious benefits, such as free fresh eggs and 100% organic meat. However, there are also some more surprising benefits, such as the fact that backyard chickens are an amazing natural form of pest control, and that they can be the most adorable pets. Especially the little chicks.
Chickens lay eggs. A lot of eggs in fact. One hen can lay an egg each day, although depending on the age 3-6 eggs a week is more common. This means that even with a few backyard chickens, you are most likely producing more eggs than you personally need. Which means that you can give away, or sell, the remaining eggs to your neighbors.
The best part is that those eggs are going to be fresher than any other egg you can buy. And you’ll be eating those eggs as often as you want.
When chickens grow older, and when the hens stop laying eggs as frequently anymore you may want to replace them with younger hens. After two years most hens lay no more than 4 eggs a week, while young hens may still lay eggs 6-7 days a week. When replacing the hens you have the option of killing them for their meat. This is definitely not for everyone, but it may yield you some free, fresh, 100% organic chicken meat. If you are more interested in chicken meat than chicken eggs, there are some special breeds of chickens that are commonly raised for their meat. Some examples are the Cornish Cross, Delaware, Orpington breeds.
Chickens as pets
Chickens can be adorable as pets, especially when you have young children. If you also decide to hatch some eggs, possibly in an incubator, the hatching process can be very educational for the kids. After the hatching process itself, little chicks are one of the most adorable animals you can have.
Chickens for pest control
Chickens eat surprising amounts of insects and other little pests, which can clean up your garden nicely. If you live somewhere with a lot of little pests nearby in the bushes, you can even save some money on food that way. Either way, chickens are a natural way of getting rid of pests.
What are the downsides of raising backyard chickens?
Unfortunately, raising chickens also comes with a few downsides. The biggest downside is the smell, followed by the attention required. Lastly, there may be a few zoning issues, depending on where you live.
How bad do backyard chickens smell?
Chicken manure, or with a less fancy word chicken poop smells bad. It has an ammonia smell that can even leave you feeling dizzy if you don’t take any precautions. The good news is that there is a wide variety of measures you can take against the smell. These include frequently replacing litter, keeping the coop and run dry and clean, cleaning regularly, and putting some oils in and on the coop (for example a mix of olive oil and tea tree oil).
How much time does raising backyard chickens take?
Raising chickens on its own does not require much time. However, it does require that you provide the chicken food and do your egg gathering every single day. You can’t really take off a few days because you aren’t feeling like it. The hens would start brooding the eggs, or even eating them, some of the chickens may starve or become ill, which may cause them to get picked on by the rest of the flock. If you decide to raise chickens, the main issue isn’t the time that it takes each day, the most important thing is to do it every single day. So if you want to go on a holiday for a week, you’ll need to make sure that there is someone to replace you. You need to have someone taking care of the chickens always.
How much space does raising backyard chickens take?
If you’re going to raise backyard chickens, you’re going to need a chicken coop. There are coops of all kinds of materials and sizes, so depending on what you need you can almost always find something. Coops can be self build or bought, either can be fine. In both cases you want to be careful, because there are both a lot of bad chicken coops on the market, as well as it being easy to make a few mistakes when building one. We got a review of the best chicken coops that can be bought online, so if you’re curious check it out!
Zoning issues when raising backyard chickens
Lastly, there may be zoning issues. In quite a few cities you can only have a maximum of 6 hens, and no roosters at all. In other cities having chickens in your backyard is forbidden entirely. Luckily, in most cities there aren’t strict limitations like those. Still, you’ll have to check the regulations for your own city.
Should you raise your own backyard chickens?
You should consider raising your own backyard chickens if you want to be self-sufficient, and if you like to have your own fresh organic eggs and meat. Also, if you want to teach your kids a thing or two about pets and taking care of animals, chickens are an amazing option. A simple coop with no more than a couple of hens is enough to get fresh eggs daily, for years.
However, if you are in a city with strict zoning laws when it comes to chickens, you’re out of luck. Do check the regulations before buying a coop, because otherwise you may be fined and lose your investment as well. Lastly, make sure you have someone to take care of the chickens whenever you are on holidays, and you’re good to go!