There’s no question that backyard eggs are better than the factory-farmed alternative. Crack one open for breakfast and you’ll instantly see the difference. They’re better tasting and they’re chucked full of higher levels of all the good stuff eggs are made of. That alone is reason enough to have a flock of feathered friends in your own backyard.
But the benefits don’t stop with fresh eggs. There are lots awesome perks (many of them completely overlooked) to being a small-flock chicken owner. If you don’t already have chickens of your own, this list might convince you to join the craze.
Chickens are great:
Self-Esteem Boosters. It never fails to bring a smile to my face to have my hens race over from wherever they’ve wandered and look up at me with sweet, expecting faces whenever I enter the yard. Yes, I know they’re just after treats. But it still makes me smile and feel special.
Exercise Coaches. Shovel out a coop a time or two and you know what I’m talking about. Chicken ownership increases arm, leg and back muscles. Who needs gym membership? Just own a few chickens.
Compost Enthusiasts. My girls love gardening and are more than willing to help stir the compost to get it ready for planting. They take this job seriously and daily tackle the growing pile with enthusiasm, never slowing down on the job, never tiring of the endless pursuit. That’s more than I can say for myself, since I readily admit my weaknesses with keeping up on the compost scene.
Carpe Deim Advocates. Chickens seize the moment and make the most of it. Every morning they charge out of the chicken run the moment I open the door and set off exploring the yard as though they’ve never been there before. Nothing escapes their notice. They pay attention to all the little details of life around them.
Impromptu Entertainers. My girls ham it up without even trying. They’re naturals. One chicken tiptoes across the yard in ballet steps, another shows up 10 seconds late for the punch line. They catch butterflies and fight over worms. They follow me around the yard like puppies. It’s a live comedy show without any re-runs, no commercials and no cable bill to pay.
Old Age Gifters. Less stress and more laughter add years to your life. Instead of the old standard: An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away, a see a new slogan coming into vogue: Hug a Chicken and Keep on Kickin’.
Life Educators. Since chickens are both hardy and fragile in the same little body, and their life expectancy is only around 5 years, it doesn’t take long to learn the hard knocks of life and death. I don’t necessarily like this aspect of chicken raising, but I do think it adds to a balanced life.
Slug-Deterring Secret Weapon Makers. Chicken shells, crushed and put in the garden keeps slugs at bay. (The slugs don’t like to cross a shell barrier because it cuts them up).
Bug Control Task Force Enforcers. Chickens love bugs and never tire in their search and devour tour across the yard. My vegetables love the chickens because of it.
Non-Gas Powered Weed Eaters. My chickens love almost anything green. Including weeds. They happily rid the earth daily of a healthy dose of weeds.
Dirt Aerators. Garden need fluffing? Send the chicken forces out to do the job. My girls leave no speck of dirt unturned.
Sensitivity Trainers. It didn’t take me losing too many chickens before I learned to pay attention to them in a new way. Now I can often spot a chicken before tons of signs alert me to the fact that they’re sick. What might look like normal behavior to someone on the outside might be an indicator to me that something isn’t quite right. I’ve learned this skill by hanging out with the flock.
Conversation Starters. Being an introvert, this one comes in handy. Whenever I’m in a group setting and don’t have a clue what to talk about, I can always bring up chickens!
Conscientious Consumer Educators. Having my own birds, with their individual personalities and antics, makes me cringe even more to think of the abuses other hens endure for the sake of the food industry. More than any other thing, the chickens have helped drive the point home to me that we need to become a people that raise and eat animals in a conscientious way.
Pride Instillers. Yes, I still beam with pride to collect those lovely eggs every day, and to tell others about my hens.
IQ Raisers. Okay, my IQ probably hasn’t increased, but in the last few years I’ve learned more about chickens than I thought there was to know. I’ve built a chicken coop from scratch with pretty much no knowledge. I’ve learned how to problem-solve animal behavior issues and sicknesses. And I’ve learned a lot about raising my own food, the food industry, and sustainability issues. I blame much of this on my chickens!
Creativity Boosters. When I’m feeling the creativity slump, I paint a chicken. It always sparks my creativity and gets me back on track.
Free Fertilizer-For-Life Donators. It’s pretty safe to say, owning chickens will keep me from having to buy fertilizer ever again. Not only that, but they spend time preparing the fertilizer for me so that when the time comes, I can just dump it in the garden. And watch the garden grow like it’s eating super food. Which, of course, it is.
Social Order Advocates. Some say chickens aren’t very smart, but I disagree. They’ve got very well developed social order that works exactly as it needs to in order to maintain peace, health and well-being in the flock. They get along better than lots of higher intelligence people I know.
Child-raising Specialists. If you haven’t seen a hen with a flock of chicks, you’re missing out on one of the coolest experiences ever. There’s nothing quite like watching a doting, attentive mother hen with her chicks. At great sacrifice to herself, she sits on eggs (barely ever leaving) for 21 days to hatch a family, and then instructs them, feeds them, is patient with them, talks to them in her own special language. It’s all very sweet.
There’s my list of all the reasons why I’m so glad I have chickens…and the many benefits I’ve gained by my little backyard flock. What about you? Can you add anything to the list? I’m sure there’s more. Please share them and we’ll continue to grow the list.
Then, go hug a chicken. They enrich life way beyond the simple, lovely, healthy, egg. And considering I was just after the eggs when I brought my first flock home, I think I’m coming out way ahead on this gig.
What’s there not to love about chickens???
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