Reasons We All Should Be Raising Chickens
Suppose you were offered an inexpensive and easy way to provide your family with a healthy, sustainable food source for years to come? You’d be a bird brain not to jump at the opportunity if you have the means. Well if you have a decent-sized backyard and perhaps a little garden space, you officially have the means, now all you need are some reasons that you should raise your own chickens.
Chickens are a great starter animal for any homesteader. Their needs are simple, they can be raised to be much healthier than commercial chickens, and raising them can be a fun activity for you and your family. Beyond that, however, raising your own chickens can provide a number of benefits you may never thought of. Here are my top reasons you should consider raising your own chickens.
What Chicken Breed is Right for Your Homestead? If you are just starting out on your homesteading adventure, chickens are a great way to begin with livestock. Whether you have a budding, city backyard or a bustling, rural acreage, getting a coop up and running is a great step in any homesteading plan. Check out my article called Which Chicken Breed is Right for Your Homestead? to read more on which chiken breed is right for you.
Fresh, Healthy Eggs & Meat
There are certain commercial brands of chicken eggs that proclaim to be the best, healthiest, (and often most expensive) brands in your local grocer. The fact is, however, the nutritional content of pasture-raised chicken eggs can be much better than any of those who are never allowed to see daylight or forage for natural foods like weeds, grasses, grubs, and insects. Allowed a more natural diet, egg-laying hens also stay healthier and have much lower risks of disease and infection. As an added benefit, you can also raise different breeds of hens and get an array of different colored eggs which can be especially fun for children.
We don’t personally eat our egg-layers, but we do on occasion raise meat chickens as well. If you’ve ever tasted the difference between a farm-raised chicken and commercially produced chicken you find at the grocer, that alone should be enough incentive to raise your own birds. Beyond that, however, the cost-per-pound of raising a chicken compared to buying one makes it an economical choice as well.
Quality & Health Control
Genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) have been linked to certain cancers. GMO’s along with chemicals and unnatural ingredients are very common in commercial livestock feed. To avoid consuming them, you can sustain a healthy backyard flock of chickens with little to no feed whatsoever. Our chickens consume a bit of non-GMO feed, but mostly, we have found ways to sustain our flock with a combination of natural foods and foraging. This ensures that our egg-layers produce rich, nutritious eggs, and our meat chickens are always healthy and delicious.
There are a variety of garden vegetables and cover crops that make wonderful natural chicken feeds such as clover, winter wheat, oats, as well as naturally growing grasses and weeds. We allow our chickens run over an area until foliage becomes a little sparse, then simply move their run fence over a bit. Any plant remnants and chicken droppings in the previous run can simply be raked up and added to the compost bin for an added boost. Furthermore, grass and leave debris makes wonderful natural habitats for earthworms, grubs, and other insects, so when conditions are right, we also allow our birds access to this natural feasting ground in exchange for their help in overturning and fertilizing the material for us. In effect, the chicken’s natural pecking and scratching along with their auto-fertilization skills make them an integral part of our backyard ecosystem.
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