We all know dogs and cats make great pets, but have you considered getting a small flock of chickens? Chooks have unique personalities, can be great with children and can become adorable feathery friends over time. My household has six of them, so here are the many benefits of raising backyard chickens that I’ve come to appreciate.
A constant supply of fresh and tasty eggs
This is probably the most obvious benefit but it truly never gets old. I can’t really remember the last time I bought eggs from the supermarket, but I do remember doing so begrudgingly because they simply aren’t the same. If you’re a baker or you love having eggs for breakfast, this is honestly reason enough to consider raising your own chooks. The number of eggs that your chicken will lay can vary based on breed, age and season but generally speaking, you can expect around five to six a week per bird. If you have too many, you can give them to friends and neighbours.
They are kitchen scrap garbage disposals
Chickens absolutely love human food and while it should be an occasional treat and not their entire diet, there are many kitchen scraps that are safe to give them. You can find a definitive list of what foods are safe for your chickens here and it includes things like broccoli, bananas, celery and raisins. If your compost bin is full and you want to save room in your green waste bin for tree cuttings and garden pruning, use your chooks as mini garbage disposals.
Every chicken has its own personality
Just like dogs and cats, chickens can have a wide range of personality traits. They can be shy and quiet, bold and aggressive or friendly and cuddly. If you get multiple hens, spend some time with them and see if you can figure out their personalities. You may have a 'queen bee' who is at the top of the pecking order, a silly girl whose goofy antics make you laugh or a sweet hen who’s quieter but loves a cuddle.
Got bugs? No problem
Chickens absolutely love eating the creepy crawlies that live in and around your yard. If you have a lot of spiders, slugs, earwigs and millipedes roaming about, let your chickens loose and they’ll take care of it for you. It doesn't just benefit you, either – bugs are rich in protein and make a great addition to a chicken's diet.
Sweet feathery friends for you and your family
If your child has been begging for a dog but you’re not sure if they’re ready for the responsibility, consider getting chickens instead as they’re generally quite low-maintenance. As mentioned earlier, every chicken is different and they won’t all love being held or coddled but nurture certainly plays a large role. Get them used to being around people and they can make incredibly loving pets. Did you know they can recognise humans and that they are sometimes used as therapy animals?
If this list has swayed you, there are heaps of ways to get your hands on a couple of chooks. Businesses like Talking Hens, Poultry Australia and Abundant Layers are a few options and chicks are usually around the $20 mark. You can also check out this guide on chicken buying from Backyard Chicken Coops.