Worldwide, more than 50 billion chickens are slaughtered each year and another 305 million hens are used for egg production. In fact, more chickens are killed annually than all other animals combined. Based on the poor conditions that conventionally raised chickens endure, many individuals concerned about animal welfare and the environment are opting to raise their own.
Although some rear backyard chickens for meat, the majority are raising chickens for other purposes. In fact, those who own backyard chickens tend to become fairly attached, building a positive partnership. If you have some extra space, here’s why you should invite some chickens into your backyard.
Access to the freshest eggs
Eggs have gotten a bad rep based on cholesterol-related research conducted in the past few decades. The truth is, organic eggs are an excellent source of nutrients. When you have a brood of chickens hanging out in your backyard, you have access to the freshest source of these nutrients. You only have to throw on your housecoat to retrieve your breakfast.
Related: Best Organic Eggs
You know what they’re eating
You know the saying, you are what you eat? Well, this is true for us and chickens. Based on the high demand for both meat and eggs, chicken feed is meant to be cost-effective. Farmers are readily giving their caged hens and chickens a diet consisting of genetically modified soy and corn.
With your own backyard chickens, you can feed them what they truly need — grass, seeds, insects and other natural sources of energy and nutrients.
More nutritionally dense
Since backyard chickens are eating a more stable and nutrient-rich diet, their eggs and meat offer greater nutritional benefits. In one study, it was found that real free-range eggs contain more vitamin A, vitamin E, beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids. Conventional chickens are also pumped with a wide range of hormones and antibiotics, with little research regarding the long-term effects on humans.
They reduce landfill waste
Unfortunately, as a society, we’re fairly wasteful, and those kitchen scraps that get thrown in the garbage end up in landfills. Instead of throwing plant-based scraps in the garbage, you can give them to your backyard chickens. In turn, they will produce a nitrogen-rich fertilizer that you can use to promote the health of your garden.
Each year, tons of chemical insecticide and weed sprays are administered to lawns. These chemicals are extremely hard on the environment, often finding their way into the water supply. When you have backyard chickens, they naturally clean up your property — eating weeds and protein-rich bugs.
If you currently own backyard chickens, then you can most certainly relate. Backyard raised hens have been known to reduce stress levels and actually increase oxytocin levels. This hormone, also known as the “love” or “cuddle” hormone, is released when we experience a bond. Increased levels have been documented when individuals play with their dogs, and since chickens are known to be great pets, this isn’t surprising.
Commercially produced eggs and chicken meat are a big business, and unfortunately, profits often come before ethical concerns. Factory-farmed chickens and caged hens are exposed to horrendous conditions, living their whole lives in unnatural and stressful environments. Backyard chickens are free to roam and exercise natural behaviors.
There’s no doubt that awareness needs to increase regarding self-sufficiency practices. If you grow your own vegetables, compost and collect rainwater, you are on your way to making a significant difference. Taking on some backyard chickens is simply the next step.
Provides endless entertainment
Not that sitting outside with a cup of tea isn’t enjoyable — but backyard chickens provide a great source of entertainment. Just like many other animals, chickens develop their own quirky personalities and behaviors. Since there are many different species, you can source some pretty neat-looking chickens. Their natural beauty and unique behaviors make them a fun addition to your backyard.
Welcome a few chickens into your backyard — they will offer you a range of benefits, while you provide them with a better life. This inspiring partnership is a win-win.
— Krista Hillis