Cost of taking action: £/$/€ MED
You don’t need much space to keep a couple of chickens …
Keeping a couple of chickens can be rewarding and fun, and can contribute to reducing your personal carbon footprint.
You will need to check that you are allowed to have a coop or run in your garden. We realise that this isn’t suited to everyone’s property but do have a read and look at the links, you might be surprised at how easy it could be. Many companies offer “starter kits” of equipment and a couple of chickens at very low cost.
Why should you keep chickens?
There are lots of reasons:
Typically, backyard hens will provide you with about an egg per day. This is fresh food at it’s best, at no further cost, and with no food-miles attached to it. Eggs are very nutritious too!.
2. Fascinating to watch
It’s fun, interesting and even therapeutic to watch as your chickens communicate, preen, bathe in dust, squabble and feed.
It is important to know where food comes from. Having chickens, hatching eggs and caring for chicks is a great way to teach kids about how to care for animals and getting your children to care for the hens, collect eggs and clean the coop will teach them some responsibility.
4. Sustainable Living
Chickens go a long way towards providing basic food security, both them and their eggs provide a good source of food for many families. In addition many of the foods we consume have a huge carbon footprint because they are transported from A to B, and having your own chickens reduces your contribution to this.
5. Pest Control
Most chickens are great at pest control, they search out insects to supplement their diet. The added protein from the insects helps to nourish your flock. Insects such as ticks, mosquitoes, caterpillars and flies are all on their menu.
Chicken excrement can be used to fertilize your garden as it provides lots of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. All of those elements are essential for soil. (NB you cannot put it directly onto your plants, it needs to age first).
7. Reducing factory farming
Factory farming is unappealing to most people, and factory farming is also incredibly bad for the environment. Some strides have been made to improve the welfare of factory animals but there is still much work to be done, and by raising your own chickens, you can care for them in a humane way.
8. Reduces Waste
Chickens eat meat and vegetables – in fact just about anything, even your leftovers, offering the prospect of reducing household food waste and landfill content.
9. Low Maintenance
Once you have everything in place for your hens they are remarkably low maintenance, they do not need to be walked, their food and water is already available to them and they do not need to be entertained all day. All they need is to be let out and closed in at night at the very basic level. In the mornings, check feed and water are adequate and collect the eggs.
Did you know – keeping chickens can be very helpful for people suffering from autism. This is especially true for children as it can give them a sense of purpose, order and self-worth that can be hard for them to come by in the “normal” world. Chicken therapy has also been used with great success in people with anxiety, depression and loneliness. Hens are actually very intelligent creatures and can exhibit some empathy. They are also quite comical to watch and it is hard to not smile at them sometimes.
Some people decide to keep endangered breeds, helping the breed to survive. You will need to research this carefully if this is an important consideration for you.
The next step if this idea appeals to you is to do your research. Check out the costs, breeds, and the equipment and space that will be needed. We can’t answer every question here but we are hoping to plant a seed of an idea that you can develop.
Here are a few useful links:
Please let us know how you get on by tagging us on your social media, and good luck!