Small Space Requirement, Big Rewards
One of the best things about raising chickens compared to other livestock is their limited space requirements. With a small backyard run and a simple shed to allow for roosting and nesting, one can easily raise enough hens to provide a regular and self-sustaining supply of food. If you are blessed enough to have extra space, you can even experiment with a larger flock and have enough eggs to sell or share. My yard is relatively modest, but adequate to allow for free-ranging of chickens, meaning that they have access to the outdoors, not that they are just allowed to run free.
So if for any reason you think of raising chickens in your yard as an invite for birds running everywhere and taking over your property, I assure you, it is far more controlled. Basically, we have a small chicken-wire fence that extends from the front entrance to the shed out into the yard as their run. Generally, we keep the fence off to one side, so that after the chickens have had a chance to forage freely, we can move the fence over and give them a fresh area to peck at while the first regrows. This system is effective, efficient, and in total only takes up about twice the yard space of our garden shed.
The reward of this small devotion of space and effort is essentially a guaranteed supply of nutrition for you and your family. For those who don’t care to rely on commercial grocery stores in times of crisis or emergency, having a self-sustaining food source right in your own back yard can be of enormous value, in every sense.
Raising the Responsibility Bar
In general, raising animals is a great way to teach responsibility. In the case of chickens especially, I have found that children absolutely thrive on caring for them. Not only are the needs of chickens relatively simple compared to most animals, but they also leave colorful and tasty presents for the kids on a nearly daily basis! (Meaning eggs, of course, not well… you know) My kids take their responsibility to an extra level by naming the different chickens and keeping track of their egg-laying production. They love showing off their favorites to family and friends. As an added benefit, taking care of the chickens seems to be a good source of exercise for the children and comedy for me. You can’t help but laugh watching your little ones chase a stubborn hen around when it’s roosting time!
For adults, raising chickens can also be good for body and mind. If nothing else, it is a reason to get up and outside for a while every day, but beyond that, even the most grown-up of us can find some amusement in the way the birds interact with each other. If you’ve never watched “chicken tv”, I’d recommend it!
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