Chickens are often the first addition to a small homestead – but there are a number of great reasons to keep backyard chickens even in the city. Here are 3 to consider:
Many modern homesteaders start out small with just a garden, some fruit trees, and the desire to lead a more sustainable life that is connected to nature. But as you get your feet wet with homesteading, you may wish to add some livestock to your homestead.
Many homesteaders start with chickens – and with good reason! Chickens are a multi-purpose animal with a number of benefits for the homestead – and even if you’re not a homesteader, there are still some good reasons to consider keeping backyard chickens.
Below are just 3 reasons that you might want to keep backyard chickens:
Benefit No. 1: Eggs, Meat, Manure, and More!
Eggs, meat, manure, pest control, and the joy of keeping them are some of the biggest reasons folks raise backyard chickens.
For instance, did you know that your average dual-purpose backyard hen can produce more than 180 eggs a year—and about one cubic foot of highly prized manure every six months?
if you’re looking to put meat on the table, you’ll be glad to know that same chicken can achieve a slaughter weight of up to eight pounds in as few as six weeks.
You can also use every part of the chicken—not just its meat. Its bones make nutritious stock, you can use its feathers for composting or craft materials, and the rest can provide nourishment for other carnivorous animals, such as dogs.
As omnivores with a strong preference for live insects and sometimes small critters, chickens can help with overpopulations of grasshoppers, wireworms, cutworms, Japanese beetles, brown marmorated stink bugs, small mice, and more.
They are also fascinating creatures to watch and can provide endless entertainment!
Benefit No. 2: Eliminating Waste
But how about recycling?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture 31 percent (or 133 billion pounds!) of our available food supply is wasted by retailers and consumers annually.
Most of this waste occurs because consumers—that’s us—just don’t want to eat it. Maybe the fruit was bruised, the leftovers were unloved, or the baking became a debacle.
Whatever the reason, perfectly safe foods end up in landfills at alarming rates.
Since chickens have no concern for the aesthetics of food and have fewer taste buds than your average human, they make great “recyclers” of unwanted, but still safe, edibles.
If every household or community had backyard chickens, we could potentially eliminate 21 percent of the post-recycling waste overwhelming our landfills! (Note that feeding chickens kitchen scraps is illegal in the United Kingdom unless you are vegan, so this benefit may not apply equally in all circumstances.)
Benefit No. 3: Garden Helpers
Backyard chickens are also great workers if managed in a manner that respects their inherent behaviors.
- For example, with their powerful scratching abilities, backyard chickens can be used to help break down a compost pile.
- Using electric netting or runs, they make great Weed Eaters along hard-to-mow fence lines.
- In winter, backyard chickens can help prepare your garden beds for spring. As they scavenge through mulch and organic debris looking for overwintering pests, they will essentially be doing light tilling. And, of course, they’ll be fertilizing your soil along the way!
Read more about the benefits of keeping backyard chickens at TheGrowNetwork.com.