Backyard chickens, the good, the bad and the ugly. Backyard chickens have really become a popular pet for the 21st century. But they really aren’t anything new; people have been keeping chickens in their backyards for as long as we’ve had backyards. Somehow we got away from that after the 2nd world war, but they are making a come back!
But are backyard chickens right for you? Sure you’ll see the pictures of sweet little hens, with fluffy butts, enjoying an afternoon on green grass…easy to want that picturesque scene in your own yard.
Backyard Chickens, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Backyard Chickens – The Good
So what’s so great about keeping chickens out back?
- Fresh Eggs – they just can’t be beat!
- More nutritious eggs – chickens that eat bugs, greens and live a healthy humane life produce healthier eggs for us.
- Compost Material – chicken manure is a great addition to your compost piles.
- They’ll be happy to scratch and peck out your compost pile – very beneficial for breaking it down.
- Bug Eaters – backyard chickens can keep your bug population down.
- They’ll teach your kids a whole new level of responsibility.
- Getting in touch with where your food comes from.
- Eggs of all colors – there are so many colors besides white and brown eggs like pinks, olives and blues. You won’t find all those colors at your big box grocery store!
- Garden helpers – after you harvest your garden, let your chickens in there to dig out bugs, weeds, slugs, etc.
- Fun – chickens are fun. I enjoy just sitting on my chair outside and watching them scratching and pecking.
Backyard Chickens – The Bad & The Ugly
The stuff the pictures don’t tell you…
- Day to day care – chickens, like any animal require work. They need fresh food and water daily and for you to keep a close eye on their health.
- Free range chickens poop….everywhere. They are not dogs and will poop places you’d really rather they didn’t. I clean poop off
my porch several times a day when they are free ranging.
- They are garden gangsters – they get in where they aren’t supposed to and can eat / ruin your garden. You’ll need to take measures to keep them out!
- They aren’t always legal – so you could get turned in by your neighbors and lose your flock.
- Chickens aren’t silent, even the hens make noise during egg laying.
- They can attracts pests – flies, rodents & roaches. But this can be avoided with secure food like Grandpa’s Feeders & regular cleanings.
- They need to be cleaned up after and often. Their coops, yards, roosts and nests need regular cleaning for your chicken’s health and to avoid the above pests.
- You won’t be able to just go out of town; and finding a chicken-sitter can be challenging.
- Your neighborhood birds will LOVE your yard – free food and water….aka more poop. And those wild birds carry diseases that can hurt your birds (like lice).
- They don’t lay forever – so you’ll have to make a choice when your layers aren’t laying. Most of us backyard farmers don’t have the space to keep hens they aren’t laying regularly; that means you’ll need to butcher them or give them to someone who will.
So there you have it, backyard chickens, the good, the bad and the ugly. I don’t want to talk you out of getting your own small backyard flock, because I love having mine. But you should go into chicken raising with ALL the facts. I recommend you read all you can, talk to experienced backyard chicken folk and then decide if your family is ready to raise them.