They decimate a garden, soil every inch of their domain, don’t care about fences, crow at the least desirable times, and take no heed of passing traffic, trespassing signs, or tongue lashings. So what are the reasons why to raise chickens when common sense would dictate otherwise?
Well, baby chicks are really cute and fun to watch, for one thing. Eggs are healthy and delicious whether fried, boiled, pickled, poached, or scrambled, but they are also necessary for food recipes. Along with eggs, chickens can be raised for meat, too. U.S. meat birds number in the billions. Yep, billions – about 8 billion a year.
They also make fun pets. That’s only the beginning – read on for some more reasons to raise chickens. But first…
Chickens Have Been a Part of Our Lives For a Long Time.
Nobody really knows for sure when chickens were domesticated. Archaeological evidence shows domestic chickens in Southeast Asia over 8000 years ago. After they were “tamed” (more like, when they became tolerant of us), they were used for human consumption and cock fighting, and eventually egg production.
The original birds were Southeast Asian red junglefowl that were domesticated. These birds didn’t lay eggs every day like modern chickens. Daily layers showed up about 3500 years ago in the Middle East. Today, there are about 300 million egg-layers in the U.S. alone.
Although genetic studies point to the Southeast Asian red junglefowl as the common ancestor of today’s various breeds of chickens, genetic dalliances over time have led to amazing variances in both the appearance and size of chickens.
The breeding of red, gray, and Ceylon fowl led to the differences in size, shape, and colors we see today. From the Jersey Giant to the smallest bantam, just as all dogs came from the wolf, so did chickens come from the junglefowl.
These incredibly giving and productive birds have been in lockstep, marching through history with humans for a long time. They will be for a long time to come.
Chicken Eggs Are Healthy Food.
Eggs are used in countless recipes. From cookies to meringues to omelets to souffles, eggs are integral to cooking. One egg has about 77 calories and is a good source of vitamins A, B5, B12, D, E, K, and B6. They also contain folate, phosphorus, calcium, selenium, zinc, healthy fats, and six grams of protein. Eating foods high in protein can make one feel fuller longer, build strong muscles and bones, and help with weight management. Eggs have been called the perfect food.
Bodybuilders are famous for eating many eggs every day to help get their incredible physiques. Typically, egg whites are eaten to get the protein benefits without the fats and cholesterol associated with excess whole egg consumption.
Average consumers should keep it to around seven whole eggs per week to keep it healthy.
We’ll Kill the Old Red Rooster When She Comes…
Chicken is a wonderful food. It has many health benefits. According to The National Chicken Council, chicken has tryptophan, an amino acid that is responsible for raising serotonin levels in your brain. Serotonin is the “feel-good” neurochemical linked with mood.
Dark and white meat chicken contains vitamin B12 and choline, which may promote children’s brain development, help the nervous system function properly, and aid cognitive performance in older adults. Lean chicken meat is an excellent source of protein that the body can use easily. Foods high in protein may be a tool for managing weight and normal blood sugar.
A very important quality of chicken is that it is utterly delicious. It can be fried, barbecued, baked, grilled, smoked, slow-cooked, boiled, broiled, and microwaved. No matter how you slice it, chicken is darn good food. I like to slow-cook chicken and pull it to mix with a nice BBQ sauce. Mmm, sounds good, huh?
So I’ve mentioned chicken as food as a good reason to raise chickens, but there is another great reason to have them around. If you haven’t noticed, the price of everything has been steadily going up, up, up!
Raising egg-layers is fun and rewarding but not extremely profitable. Chickens lay something else that is extremely valuable to the backyard gardener. How about making your own compost for your vegetables and flowers?
Composting Chicken Manure
A chicken will produce one cubic foot of manure every six months. That little tidbit comes from a university study I read. I have 14 chickens. That’s a pile the size of the comfy chair that I’m sitting in as I write this every year. What is one to do with all of this, uh, stuff? Put it in the garden.
The problem is that raw chicken manure can burn and damage plants because it is high in salt and nitrogen content. The solution is it must be composted or aged prior to use. In addition, raw manure can contain pathogens that can harm people and animals.
If composting is done properly, the process destroys disease-causing organisms, making chicken manure safe to use around plants, people, and pets.
I’ll lay out a composting method in another article. For now, let me get away with saying that composting is another reason why to raise chickens.
Chickens Are a Joy To Have
I truly enjoy going to my chicken coop every day to gather eggs. It’s like being a kid again looking for Easter eggs, except they are seldom hidden. It’s like finding treasure when young hens start laying for the first time.
That’s the main reason I raise chickens. I don’t personally raise meat birds. I got a couple of them by mistake last spring, and I gave them away when they were old enough – it’s just not my thing.
Raising baby chicks is fun, although challenging at times. The trickiest part is getting a handle on how to incubate chicken eggs.
Among the reasons to raise your own fowl is a sense of the old ways that you get when raising livestock. Growing your own vegetables, composting… the satisfaction that it brings makes missing the soap opera of the day, or the sitcom of the evening worthwhile.
It’s simply joyful. There’s no equal that you can find in a chain store that compares with the egg just gathered from the coop ten minutes ago that, when cracked, reveals a dark orange-yellow yolk that stands up in the pan and says with attitude, “I’m fresh!”.
Until next time…