We all love our dogs, cats and fish, but do they actually produce something edible? Or pay their own way? Chickens do, and once you've dined on their eggs you'll never reach for a dozen in the supermarket again. They're so much more flavorful, in no small part because you'll eat them when they're only minutes or hours old, not weeks or months. You'll even see the difference in the yolks, which are a healthy orange - not the pale yellow you're used to.
Plus, you can feel good about the organic eggs you'll be feeding your friends and family. All it takes to get organic eggs is organic chicken feed! Research shows that chickens allowed to roam freely and eat grass lay eggs that are higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E and at the same time lower in cholesterol than store-bought, too. (Think of your hair and skin...)
Each chicken has their own completely unique quirky, kooky and endearing personality. They're stunningly beautiful too, parading around in a variety of colors, patterns, shapes and sizes. You'll name them, spoil them with treats, and pick them up and hug them any chance you get.
Do you find it disconcerting how far removed we all are from the animals and plants we need to survive? How our fast-paced lives and ever-increasing demands are trashing the planet that sustains us? Believe it or not, keeping a few chickens in your backyard equates to taking a stand against all this. Read more about sustainable living with chickens
Chickens LOVE to range freely, and allowing them to do so kills the proverbial two birds with one stone: they'll eat any garden pest they can get their beaks on (earwigs, grubs, beetles, even moles) and they'll turn it all into treasure in the form of fertilizer. Say goodbye to toxic, costly pest control solutions and wasteful bags and bottles of store-bought fertilizer. Chickens will even cut down on the amount of mowing you do because they love to eat grass. That's right -- you sit in a lounge chair with your mint julep while they do the hard work for you.
Chickens can eat almost anything people can, and they adore "people food" -- so you can throw those unwanted leftovers into the chicken run. No more feeling guilty about letting them rot in the fridge or throwing them out! Watch out for the garlic and onion, though, unless you want your eggs tasting funny.
Composting is a wonderful way to reduce your ecological footprint, and a nitrogen-rich compost pile is a healthy compost pile. What better to provide the nitrogen than chicken poo? Eggshells are a great addition, too, especially in areas where there's lots of clay in the soil. At the end of the composting process you'll have "black gold" soil, so called because it's so rich and fertile.
Leaves, weeds and grass clippings are a treat for Gallus gallus domesticus. They'll happily dig through whatever you give them, eat what they can, and pulverize the rest. Give a small flock a heap of yard and garden debris and a week later it'll be gone without a trace. No need to bag it and pile it by the curb!
If you're aware of conditions in factory farms, even in some of the so-called "free range" farms, we needn't say more. If you're not, please research it. Factory farming is terrifyingly cruel. The good news is that by keeping a few pet chickens of your own, you're reducing the demand for store-bought eggs and sending a message to those factory farms that you don't want what they're selling.
Chickens don't need to be walked, brushed, or fed twice a day. Essentially all you have to do is gather eggs daily, fill their food and water containers a couple of times a week and change their bedding once a month! (For more on chicken care, take a peek at our free chicken care guide.)
Despite their many merits, backyard chickens are still relatively uncommon. Wow neighbors, friends and family by being the first person they know to have chickens. Amaze them with the green eggs from your Ameraucana hens. Confound them by scooping up your pet chicken and cuddling it. Astound them when your chicken falls asleep in your arms after you've lovingly stroked its comb and wattles. Make them green with envy at the lawn your flock has made effortlessly fabulous.
Chickens are, after all, the most "chic" pet you could possibly have. And we think it's time everyone knew.