Thursday, September 2, 2010

Why Keep Backyard Chickens?

Chickens make great pets.
  • They are fun to watch, easily tamed and intelligent.
  • Hens are very quiet.They do not bark or yowl or screech.
  • Well-cared for chickens do not smell.

Chicken-keeping assists Emergency Preparedness.
  • FEMA recommends at least a three-day supply of food and water to be kept in case of emergency (1).
  • Eggs are rated a more efficient source of protein than cow's milk, fish, beef or soybeans (2).
  • Diversification of food production leaves it less vulnerable to interruption by natural or manmade disaster.

Chickens contribute to a self-sufficient and frugal lifestyle.
  • They are the ultimate in “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”
  • Chickens will eat most table scraps, weeds and lawn clippings.
  • They take those scraps and weeds and make eggs.

Backyard chickens lay fresh, healthy and delicious eggs.
  • Eggs from chickens fed a varied diet are richer in antioxidants such as vitamins E, C and beta-carotene.
  • These eggs also contain more of the good fats necessary for health – HDL and omega – 3 fatty acids – up to 10 times as much omega – 3 as eggs from battery chickens (3).
  • Eggs from backyard hens are antibiotic-free.

Raising chickens is educational.
  • Hatching chicks and watching them grow to adulthood illustrates the life-cycle of birds.
  • Keeping chickens teaches responsibility and pride in ownership of a well-kept, healthy and affectionate pet.
  • And it teaches first-hand respect for one's food and the animals that supply it.

Chickens are excellent bug eaters.
  • They eat mosquitos, flies, beetles and other harmful and pesky insects.
  • This reduces our backyard and garden pest populations.
  • Fewer bugs means less use of pesticides on ourselves and on our food.

Chickens are a natural extension of the garden.
  • Since they eat insect pests and weeds, chickens reduce the need for pesticides and herbicides.
  • Chicken manure is high in nitrogen and an excellent fertilizer.
  • It can be composted and used in the garden to grow healthy and delicious vegetables.

Keeping chickens puts you in control of your food.
  • Truly local food comes from your own backyard.
  • Owning a flock of chickens – no matter how small that flock may be - is literally owning the means of production.
  • When you keep chickens you know exactly how they have been treated, what food they have eaten and the quality of their health.

Backyard flocks help remind us of our cultural heritage.
  • The traditional American values of independence, self-reliance and resourcefulness are embodied in raising chickens.
  • Backyard flocks help preserve genetic diversity and endangered heritage poultry breeds.
  • Chicken-keeping evokes a simpler time when most people lived on family farms and even townsfolk kept chickens and gardens; family was important, and the sense of community between neighbors was strong.

    1. FEMA: Plan for Emergencies. Available online at
    2. COOP: Chicken Owners Online Pamphlet. A Dozen Reasons to Have Urban Chickens. Available online at
    3. Health Benefits of Grass-fed Products. Available online at

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