We really love chickens, and we’re here to convince you that you want chickens too.
You probably already know that we’re HUGE proponents of the Urban Farming and Sustainability movements. And if you didn’t, well, now you do. The benefits of being able to produce your own food are immense. Knowing where your food comes from, and knowing that if there’s another situation when there’s nothing available to buy (think 2020 and bare produce and egg cases in the grocery store and how scary that was!) that you don’t have to worry; you’ve got it covered.
Here’s our top 5 Reasons Why You Want Chickens This Year
Reason #5 You Want Chickens: #FreshEggsDaily
Having Fresh Eggs at your fingertips any time you want an omelette or a fried egg sandwich is such a priceless commodity. You really won’t know how you ever lived without the fantastic taste of eggs straight from your back yard flock!
Home-grown eggs are nearly always more nutritious than store-bought eggs, and they are also more delicious. The insects, weeds, and other things they eat outside of their regular fortified food only enhance the taste and texture of your flock’s eggs.
All the love you put into raising your chickens, and all the love they give you back, show up in that fresh egg taste. You’ll be spoiled for life.
Reason #4 You Want Chickens: Natural Pest Control
Chickens eat a LOT of things. Insects and small rodents are on that list of things they find absolutely delectable!
Pests that we find gross, or a menace, are really nothing but food for chickens. Roaches, ants, termites, caterpillars, mice, flies, grubs, maggots, spiders, grasshoppers, and other critters are fantastic snacks for our feathered friends. The more they eat, the less you find around your house! Isn’t that great?
Reason #3 You Want Chickens: Weed Control
I’ve often called Chickens natural weed-eaters. Because they do eat a LOT of weeds that we find annoying. They can clear a “run” area in a matter of a couple of days – which is why moveable coops are so tempting. If they don’t eat a particular weed, then they uproot them when they’re scratching around hunting for insects and small pebbles to eat, or when they’re taking a dust bath.
That does have one tiny drawback – if you have small ornamentals or seedlings in the ground, you’re going to need to fence them off, because chickens think seedlings are extra delicious. And that, of course, can be frustrating for starting seasonal veggie and/or annual plants!
Don’t worry, a simple chicken-wire fence around your beds can keep them out, and we sell the wire you need. There’s also a few books out there that help you deal with having chickens AND a garden. One of my favorites is called: Free Range Chicken Gardens; How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard by Jessi Bloom. I’ll share the ISBN number at the end of the article so that you can purchase it from your favorite bookseller OR check it out from your local library.
Reason #2 You Want Chickens: Natural Fertilizer
Manure is the biggest down-side to owning any animals. Luckily, chicken poop is very easily composted and turned into fertilizer for your plants!
One of the more popular, and less labor-intensive, ways to control manure is the deep-litter method. If you want to learn more about it, check out our How To Raise Chickens Video Series, Week 6. It’s a short video, but if you are in a hurry, skip ahead to about 4 minutes to see the info about deep litter.
About twice a year it’s good to clean the litter out of the coop to give them fresh stuff to scratch through! The stuff you rake out can immediately go into the garden to nourish plants and add organic matter to the soil.
If it’s rained a LOT over a period of days, it’s also a good time to change out the bedding so that you don’t have water sitting in the coop (coops need to stay dry, mold can affect chickens harshly).
We carry Hemp Bedding, Aspen Bedding, Coastal Hay, and very soon we’ll have PittMoss, which is a bedding made from pre-consumer recycled shredded cardboard and paperboard that is perfectly clean, safe, sustainable, absorbent, and decomposes well using the litter method (keep an eye on our social media for that announcement!). You can also used dry leaves and/or wood chips that are not chemically treated and don’t have a strong smell (don’t use cedar or eucalyptus or camphor).
Reason #1 You Want Chickens: Hours of Entertainment & Joy
Chickens are actually quite intelligent birds. Did you know that they can remember up to 100 different faces? You chickens will learn to recognize you, your other pets, and other visitors to your yard where they live.
Chickens who have humans regularly interacting with them from the time they are very young choose those one or two people to bond closely with. They will follow their chosen people around because they are their “leader” or their alpha, and they will look for you if you leave for awhile (like to go to work for the day). They’ll learn your routines. Chickens are very social birds, which is why it’s not really good to have just one lonely chicken. The more time you spend with them, the more likely you are going to be considered part of the flock by all the feathered ladies you own. And that’s a good thing.
Chickens love to play. They are naturally curious and are drawn to things that newly appear in their environment. They do funny things all the time during their adventures that are really fun to watch! We like to call it “Chicken TV”. So just go ahead and cancel your cable – you won’t want to watch anything else if you have chickens. One of my favorite things to do is to listen in the mornings for their “egg-laying songs” – hens announce when they’ve laid an egg – and it’s a great sound!
Your egg-laying chickens are around for quite a long time – usually around 6-7 years! You get 3-4 years of consistent egg-laying during that time, and in their retirement years you’ll get good quality eggs, just not as frequently.
If someone is only owning chickens to produce food (eggs AND meat), then most of the time you wouldn’t want to get attached. It makes it harder when it comes time to “dispatch” your hens for their purpose. Most of the time it would be decided she’s not laying enough eggs to justify the cost of the food and care provided, which means you would have a nice chicken dinner soon after – and that’s OK! Food is food!!
Many folks, however, choose to see their chickens as pets. Their birds get names, and lots of quality time is spent observing their personalities, and training them to sit on our laps and snuggle and play games. Children love chickens because they’re fluffy and soft, they’re funny, and loyal. Kids love collecting the eggs too. Those chickens live their full lives under your care, and you treat them with reverence and as a part of the family, just like any other pet.
So, have I convinced you yet? Are you making plans to get chickens now? If you are, I highly encourage you to watch our How to Raise Chickens Video Series that I mentioned above. Each video is short, and fun, and contains lots of information about chickens, including information you can download and reference as you go through your chicken journey!
If you are a resident of City of Tampa, or Hillsborough County, I also encourage you to look at my blog article about laws and rules called The Mighty Chicken and also my original article called Backyard Chickens? Oh Yes! which states the City of Tampa rules, in a nutshell.
City of Tampa Ordinance: Search for Sec. 27-282.28. – Chickens as accessory use here.
Hillsborough County Code: Go here.
Alright y’all, that’s what I’ve got for now. We hope you’ll stop in and see us! Keep an eye on our Chicken Report published every Friday to see what breeds we have in this week. Make sure you bring the kiddos by to see the baby chicks too – it’s a special treat!
Until next time, Keep Growing!
PS – Here’s the ISBN Number for the book Free-Range Chicken Gardens by Jessi Bloom: 978-1-60469-237-2