I'd like to introduce Chicken, Big Mama, and Girlfriend:
We have had these three hens for about two years now on our little city lot. While raising chickens is relatively simple, it has been quite an investment in time and money. There are costs associated with feeding, housing, and caring for them properly, along with the time all of that will take from your day. The reason we are willing to spend this time and money on our girls is simple though: we get so much back in return!
Top 5 Things Our Chickens Help Us Make or Do:
A backyard compost pile is an easy way to improve any garden, and helps keep some of the more than 29 million tons of food waste a year out of our landfills. Compost is decomposed organic matter that is used to fertilize gardens and improve soil structure, and a compost pile is easy to make and maintain. We have found that our compost improved greatly with the addition of chicken manure. When we clean out the coop, all the manure and dirty bedding gets turned into the pile. The high nitrogen content of chicken manure makes it one of the best to use in a compost pile.
2. Weed Removal
In the spring, we move the chicken tractor over to the garden and let the girls scratch. They will eat the weeds and weed seeds, while turning and loosening the soil for us. This makes tilling and planting much easier on us, and the girls love all the extra treats that they find. Once they get get the dirt really worked up, they will also enjoy bathing in it.
3. Bug Control
Chickens love to eat bugs! Do you have problems with slugs in your garden? Your chickens will quickly fix that for you. Put them in the garden early in the morning while the slugs are still out, and help them find the slimy treats. Once they have eaten the slugs off, take them out of the garden so that they don't get any bright ideas about munching on your plants. Chickens will also eat other garden pests, such as Japanese beetles and grasshoppers. In addition, chickens can keep down the flea and tick population in your yard, and have even been know to eat mice and rats!
This is one of the more obvious reasons for having chickens of course. To illustrate the difference between a store-bought chicken egg and a "home-grown" one, crack one of each and put them side by side. The difference between the two is very apparent. The store-bought egg will have a pale, watery looking yolk, unlike the home-grown egg, which will be a deep, rich yellow color. The taste is much better, and you will have control over what ends up in your eggs, depending on what you feed your chickens.
5. Chickens make us happy!
Besides the "practical" benefits of chickens, probably the best reason for us to have them is that they are so fun to have around. Chickens make really great pets! They will allow you to hold them and stroke them, they enjoy being talked to, and they each have their own little personalities. Our whole family takes part in caring for our girls, so the kids have learned valuable lessons in responsibility. They love showing them off when their friends come over, too!
Chickens are a great addition to any garden and yard, even in cities. These birds are helping us "Make Our Own Stuff" in ways I had never even imagined, and I am so happy to have them as part of our family.