Long before the so-called free-range or organic egg fad popped up in our local super markets, thousands of ordinary people around the USA have been raising chickens for their source of fresh and healthy eggs. These ordinary folks have also known the benefits of raising their own backyard chickens for many years. Besides the obvious benefit of a regular supply of eggs, here are six benefits of starting your own backyard flock. Now is a good time to purchase some chicks and have your own fresh eggs.
1) Healthier Eggs - In contrast to factory farm eggs, eggs from backyard chickens have 25 percent more vitamin E, a third more vitamin A and 75 percent more beta carotene. They also have significantly more omega-3 fatty acids than factory farmed eggs. The bottom line is that I have control of what I feed to my birds.
2) Tastier Eggs - Fresh eggs from backyard chickens have firmer whites and bright orange yolks due to beta carotene. The real difference is in the taste. Yard eggs have a more robust taste that is difficult to describe and hard to put your finger on but its there and its great.
3) Poop for compost - Chicken droppings are high in nitrogen. Added to the compost bin they add more nitrogen and improve your compost. I clean out my coops regularly. Since I deep mulch my hen houses with hay my compost pile is a rich assortment of hay, poop, egg shells, coffee grounds and shredded paper from shredder. I use this to mulch my fruit trees and to make layered gardens.
4) Bug control - I do not use pesticides due to their harmful effects to the environment. My chickens hunt and peck around the yard gobbling up grubs, earwigs and other bugs, treating our garden pests as tasty, nutritious treats. I rarely see as many bugs as I did before. Bugs are a great protein source. There is nothing greater to watch then your chickens chasing down grasshoppers.
5) Good for the soul - After a long day at work I will pull up a lawn chair and watch my chickens as they scratch around in the leaves and soil searching for the tastiest morsels. As they do, they aerate the soil and break down larger pieces of vegetation with their sharp talons, accelerating the decomposition process. There's something soothing about watching the nature channel in your own backyard.
6) Great for making friends and starting conversations - Neighbors and people in general are naturally curious about peeps who raise chickens. An amazing number of people I have met claim that they have always wanted to have chickens! I’m not sure just what urge is calling all of us to gather together a little feathered flock, but I suspect a yearning for a simpler time when we were more connected with nature and our food was part of it.