I once kept over 100 chickens. I was young and hen-tranced with the fancy breeds: Polish, Cochins, Plymouth Rocks, and Silkies. The poor little chicks would arrive in the mail, surviving transport only from their yolk sack. Once they had become full-feathered, I would show them at fairs and come away with a ribbon. They were pets; they gave me food and much more…
If you are always looking for ways to make a good contribution to the world, you might never have thought that keeping pet chickens would be a way to do it.
Chickens are dinosaurs, dating back to prehistoric times, and managed to survive the great meteor extinction, long enough for us to domesticate them. We keep the chickens safe, we feed them a balanced diet, and some of us even take them to the fair!
Why is keeping chickens so great? Here are five reasons to keep chickens if you want to foster a sustainable future for you and the planet.
Pluck your breakfast from the henhouse
Hens lay about six eggs per week with or without a rooster crowing around. If you keep two or three chickens, you can enjoy over a dozen eggs each week—an egg-stravagant number to feed your family, friends, and neighbors.
Once you keep chickens, you’ll never want a store-bought egg for your omelet. Their yolks are bright orange and perky in any pan.
Food waste can go to the birds
Apart from meat, fish, and dairy, chickens will eat practically anything – all your vegetable waste can be given to them for a delicious snack or meal.
They gobble your scraps, and what they “recycle” makes a hot addition to any compost heap.
Eliminate the foul play
Too many hens lead a sad life as perpetual egg machines, never to see the light of day. Even if you buy “cage-free” eggs, it may mean they live in a giant henhouse with 2000 chickens between them and the next door. Raising your own eggs eases a little suffering in the world.
Natural bug pest control and fertility
Chickens are like mini velociraptors—they eat all manner of insects. Just let them out into your garden or yard and watch them clean up the pests. As they peck, so too shall they contribute their remains to the soil. A natural cycle of regeneration.
Getting close to a chick fosters gratitude
Taking care of animals gives you a greater respect for life. You begin to understand the natural rhythms of summer when they lay more and winter when they lay less.
As they age, hens stop laying altogether, and that’s where the term “she went to pot” comes from. You begin to think about all the meat and dairy you buy, how it’s raised.
You develop a sense of gratitude for all the beasts that feed you.
Take care of your brood. You will research chicken coop companies that will make you aware of how to keep these chickens in a happy and safe environment. Ultimately, you will gain respect for the animal kingdom and its place on the planet.
Give a Cluck?
The IPCC Report on Climate Change tells us that land provides the principal basis for human livelihoods and well-being, including the supply of food, fresh water, and multiple ecosystems, as well as biodiversity.
Human use directly affects more than 70% of the global, ice-free land surface, which plays an important role in the climate system.
Enhanced soil fertility and increasing carbon storage in soils and biomass can benefit agricultural productivity and food security.
You can do this today by keeping a few chickens in your backyard.