Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Top 5 Reasons to Raise Chickens

Raising your own chickens is a great and easy way to ensure you are eating the best quality eggs (and meat), instead of the ones from the grocery store, which are not only full of various toxins (due to commercial chickens being raised in horribly dirty and crowded quarters, and fed all kinds of crap - literally), but also much lower in nutrients than they should be. There are actually several reasons why more and more people are starting to cultivate chickens in their backyard.

Chickens pecking at feedImage via WikipediaReason # 1 – Chickens love leftovers
A chicken’s appetite is incredible. They can eat almost everything, even their own kind! (Which is pretty gross, but is one of the reasons you don't want to eat commercial chickens!) You can now say bye-bye to those unwanted leftovers being left rotten in your fridge. You feel less guilty now that you're not just throwing them away. Plus, you can save on chicken feed. But do be somewhat careful what you feed your chickens - keep in mind that you're eating what they're eating - either in their eggs or in their meat. And you might want to tone down the onions and garlic - they're not so good for them.

Reason #2 – Eggs!!
Who doesn’t love eggs? Have them boiled, scrambled, sunny side up, etc. Admit it, pets that live comfortably inside your houses are fun, but they don't generally produce yummy food! (Fish, of course, can be eaten, but who would want to eat Goldie?) None of these domesticated animals produce something edible. Well, chickens, on the other hand, have lots of benefits - one of the best ones being eggs.

You can eat fresh eggs right from the source. Eggs taken from chickens minutes or hours ago are much more tasty and nutritious than those purchased in the grocery store. (For some of the extra benefits of eating eggs from pastured poultry, see this post on our Cooking From Scratch blog.) You’ll immediately notice the texture and color is way different than the store-bought ones you're used to.

Reason #3 – Source of natural fertilizers
Your lawn or backyard may have never looked better! Chickens love to freely walk around. Chickens also love to peck on anything they see that can be considered as food. And what is food to them? Possibly anything that’s organic. If you let your chickens roam around your space, you’ll find out how reliable they can be. They eat pests living in your backyard – grubs, beetles, insects, earwigs, and anything that comes close (this is what makes their eggs so much more tasty and nutritious).

After the digestion has set its due, they will transform what they’ve eaten into poop. But this is not just any kind of poop but a treasure called natural fertilizer. And you know what natural fertilizers do right? They keep the soil healthy for plants to grow. Cool. (If you haven't already, be sure to check out our Sustainable Gardening blog for some ideas on how to use all this fertilizer!)

eggsImage via WikipediaReason #4 – Low Maintenance Pets
Unlike dogs that need combing and brushing, and walking everyday, chickens doesn’t need such time-consuming treatment. All you have to do is provide them their daily needs like food and water. You also have to clean their pad at least twice a month and change the beddings too. In return, you can gather all the eggs. Aside from just gathering, you could even start a small business of your own by supplying poultry stores with fresh eggs or chicken meat. And if you raise them from chicks and handle them often, they are usually quite tame, and kids love them!

Reason #5 – Grass and weed clippers
Got that right. Now you can save on mowing your own lawn by getting yourself chickens! For chickens, grasses, weeds, and leaves are treats. It’s like a lifetime dessert offering. It’s like having a cow in your own backyard (only without the huge cow-pies). They will dig through whatever it is without even complaining about the hard work. Chickens will clip it then clean it all at the same time.

When you raise your own chickens, you can have a pet, a lawn mower, a supplier of organic fertilizer and an egg producer all in one. (And maybe a tasty dinner one day, if you decide you need a big pot of chicken noodle soup!)

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