A number of both suburban and urban families have begun to add a small flock of chickens to their backyard. Even though most people love the convenience of living in a big city, they also love the idea of living the simple farming life, and bringing chickens into your household is the perfect way to do that.
People raise chickens in suburbs and big cities for a number of reasons, and knowing all the benefits it can provide you with is a great place to start on your own quest to bring a bit of the simple life into your city home. If you’re still not sure that you want chickens and wonder about the truth behind the claims that they’re loud and smelly, take some time to understand the benefits as well as the drawbacks.
1. Fresher Eggs
When you buy eggs from the store, there’s no guarantee as to how fresh they are, but when you get them from your hens, you can sometimes know their age down to the minute. There is no contest when it comes to dishes prepared with fresh backyard eggs verses store-bought ones. The yolks are taller and darker with a richer taste that makes baked goods fluffier and more delicious.
2. Healthier Eggs
Studies done on eggs from cage-raised verses free-range chickens clearly shows that free-range chicken eggs are higher in essential vitamins and minerals and lower in cholesterol. They also have around 5 times as much vitamin D, 7 times the amount of beta-carotene, 2 times as much omega-3 fatty acids, and 3 times the amount of vitamin E, letting you pack way more nutrients into your next omelet.
3. Pest Control
Chickens are omnivorous, and will eat just about anything from grass to grasshoppers. People who have backyard chickens are often surprised as the number of bugs in their backyard begins to steadily decrease with the addition of chickens. Some of the favorite snacks of chickens are mosquitoes, slugs, crickets, spiders, and grubs.
This is especially good news for gardeners who have pest problems as chickens will reduce the number of pests in your yard. The pests not only act as a great supplement for their diet, but the chickens also give back to the garden in the form of nutrient-rich chicken manure.
4. Help Preserve Genetic Diversity
The huge factory farms that produce eggs only use special hybrid breeds that focus on getting the best rate of feed-to-egg exchange. Unfortunately, this has pushed a huge number of heritage breeds of chickens to the brink of extinction and limits the overall genetic diversity of the chicken population. You could join in with other backyard farmers that are helping to bring back heritage breeds.
5. Eat Local Foods
Most of the foods we eat travel around 1,500 miles before they end up on our plates, but raising backyard chickens will allow you to eat locally and support other local small-time farmers which will help improve your own community.
6. Have Purposeful Pets
If your kids are begging your for a pet but you don’t like the idea of animals inside your home, chickens are a great solution. So long as they are handled regularly and gently from a young age, chickens make excellent pets for your children to enjoy. Plus, they’ll provide you with much better understanding of where your food comes from in a world that has mostly lost touch with this concept.
7. Save Money and Avoid Waste
If you do it right, you can actually save a lot of money by raising backyard chickens. Their regular food can be supplemented by food scraps which will actually help boost their egg production. This also helps you reduce the amount of waste you are producing in your kitchen and keep useable food waste from ending up in landfills. You might even consider getting your neighbors in on it and exchange fresh eggs for more food scraps.
8. Free compost
Chicken manure is great for the garden plants. And if your chickens run and chase around your backyard, they will fertilize it, naturally. Say “so long” to lawn-care services!
9. Great chicken soup
When hens get older and their laying slows down, you can butcher them for stew meat, which is so delicious and can’t be found in stores. All grandmothers will consistently tell you that chicken soup is really good for a cold and flu.
The idea that chicken soup, often dubbed as the “Jewish penicillin,” has medicinal effects dates back to ancient times, but modern scientists have never fully deciphered the reasons.
Some doctors believe that the soup’s benefits are mainly psychosomatic, that it is the ultimate comfort food. Others say the steaming hot soup clears congestion and provides the body with necessary hydration to flush out viral bugs. Researchers believe colds are caused by viral infections in the upper respiratory tract. The body responds with inflammation, which triggers white blood cells to migrate to the area.
Yet, the biological basis is still unclear. A researcher tested a family recipe passed down from his wife’s Lithuanian grandmother that contained chicken, onions, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery, parsley, salt and pepper.
The white blood cells migrated less often in the presence of each of the tasty ingredients. His theory is that some ingredient in the chicken soup blocks or slows the amount of cells congregating in the lung area, possibly relieving the development of these cold symptoms. But it remains unclear what chemical compound within the ingredients prevented their motion.
10. Free amusement
Chickens are endlessly amusing. They give you the real taste of being somewhere in the country. You can’t watch them running around the yard for more than a few minutes without laughing or being surprised about something they’re doing. Children will burst with excitement when they see a chicken catching a frog for example, or when they see a chicken laying an egg for the first time, or the hatching of a baby chicken!
We hope this was convincing enough for you. And if someone still needs convincing to build their backyard coop ask them this: “Have you heard of chicken math?”
The chicken hobby starts out modestly with few chickens to produce just enough eggs for the family. But, before you know it, you want eggs of every color and different breeds to adorn your landscape and Easter baskets. Suddenly the flock has tripled in size and you have more eggs than anyone (but a bodybuilder) can eat.
However, urban chicken keepers usually can’t produce enough to sell at a farmers’ market, but the coolest solution to backyard overabundance I’ve seen is “the honor box.” Whether sold from a cooler or a fancy, permanent yard stand, the chicken farmer posts a price and current inventory. Then neighbors and friends can help themselves to your extra eggs, and on their honor, they leave the correct amount of cash for your extra goods. That’s, at least, the idea.
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