9 Reasons We LOVE Having Chickens

9_reason_to_have_chickens

1. THEY ARE PRECIOUS AS BABIES. PRECIOUS!!! We built a pen out of the cardboard box from a deck box. We taped it to the floor in a trapezoidal shape so they wouldn’t have any 90-degree corners to run into (and get suffocated by the others, which apparently can sometimes be a problem with small chicks). They were absolutely adorable little fuzz balls and we couldn’t stay out of the garage while they were babies… it was WAY fun to sit in the middle of the pen and have them hopping and cheeping around us (and even falling asleep in our hands!).

DIY_chick_pen

2. THEY CAN BE AS INEXPENSIVE AS YOU CHOOSE. Instead of buying what would have been a short-term watering solution for chicks, I used an old peanut butter jar, toothpicks, and a plastic lid to make a self-releasing waterer for our chicks. Various size potting dishes, tubs, and paint cans helped me to raise the lid as they got taller (so they wouldn’t walk in the water). When they got big enough, we used poultry nipples to make a long-term CLEAN watering solution for them. (It’s still what they use, in their coop.)

chick_waterer

We also ended up building our own coop, from scrap lumber. Everyone in the family got in on the project, and it was both inexpensive for us and educational for the kids!2013-08-17 20.09.46

3. EVERYONE IN THE FAMILY CAN LOVE ON THEM. Well, this is true for our Buff Orpingtons, at least (I’m not sure about other breeds; some are known to be more rude). Our ten buffs have always been incredibly sweet to our children, even to the littlest guys in our crew.

baby_chick

4. THEY MAKE GREAT USE OF SCRAPS. They love to eat all of our scraps, and any grass or leaves we feed to them. It thrills me to have all of our extra bits, uneaten food, and too-ripe produce go to good use. Because they are happy to eat almost everything, it all reduces our feed costs while making their yolks even more luxurious and bright-colored. 

feeding_hens

5. THEY MAKE GREAT PETS. Not too many pets are cute, funny, lightweight enough to pick up, pretty, AND provide something you can eat (while staying alive, as opposed to a pig who might make a fine pet but has to die in order to provide you with something tasty). Chickens are a fun pet for kids, and AGAIN, this is a reason why I love our Buff Orpingtons. They are patient with our kids, and even seem to enjoy being picked up, petted, and held for a few minutes.

hens_as_pets

6. THEY CONVERT WHAT IS UNUSABLE INTO SOMETHING THAT IS USABLE. They take leftover scraps from last night’s dinner, and leaves from a honeysuckle, and turn them into delicious, farm-fresh eggs. AGAIN let me brag on my Buff Orpingtons. They are so good at foraging that it greatly reduces our feed costs. They are excellent foragers, and use their talons to root out sprouts and bugs under autumn leaves. Just one bag of $15 feed lasts them nearly two months, which gives us over a dozen dozen eggs with that one bag. Even at Aldi prices, I can’t get eggs for cheaper than that, and these are chemical-free, free-range, beautiful eggs from girls that I know. :)

petticoats

7. THERE IS SOMETHING GOOD FOR THE SOUL IN COLLECTING EGGS. I’m serious. The simple act of caring for our hens produces this fun activity we get to do, several times a day, as we go out and see how many eggs they produce for us (anywhere from 3-9 in a day). And the colors are marvelous, aren’t they?

eggs

8. THE EGGS TASTE DIVINE. There are major differences between the store-bought eggs we’ve used (even “free-range”/”farm fresh”) and our chickens’ eggs. The yolks are almost orange, packed full with nutrients. The flavor is fresh and undiluted. And the eggs don’t run and spread in the pan. They stay close together, making for a much better fried egg.

fresh_eggs

9. CHICKENS ARE FUNNY. They’re funny to watch, and very quickly while watching them, you start to see the reasons for phrases like “peckish,” and “being a chicken,” and “pecking order.” When I am having a hard day, or just haven’t been outside in a while, there is something restorative and encouraging about going out for an hour with the chickens.  curious_hen

They truly make great pets, and we all love them.

As you can tell, I highly recommend Buff Orpingtons. I’m so pleased with their docile nature, their beauty, and their egg production. (They are also good meat birds but we will not use them for their meat… just their eggs.) I’ve told several friends, the only thing I *don’t* like about Buffs is that they all look so much alike, it makes it very difficult to tell any of them apart from one another.

[We ordered our ten from Murray McMurray, a very reputable hatchery. If you’re considering chickens, let me recommend it to you. They have an excellent reputation, and we didn’t lose even one of our day-old chicks to illness or disease, as often happens with less-reputable hatcheries.]

These are some of the reasons I love our chickens.

What about you? Do you own chickens? Have you considered it? What is holding you back?

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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12 Responses

  1. Laura says:

    So, we just moved to the country and it seems like people automatically think this means we are going to get chickens or a goat. While I love the idea of farm-fresh eggs and milk, I do somewhat have an aversion to touching animals. I am the kind of person who doesn’t even want to touch a puppy. But my boys want a dog so if I am going to have to get over THAT aversion, who’s to say this city-girl won’t eventually want to cuddle with chickens?? 😉

    • Jess Connell says:

      Laura,
      Some of my real-life friends are probably snickering about this post, because it was maybe 2 years ago (maybe less?) when I told a friend’s husband (they’d been trying to persuade me that I really was a chicken lady at heart), “no way could I ever have chickens. I don’t want pets. I am forgetful. They would die. I would forget about them… I don’t need anything I need to check in on or take care of.”

      Now I am so so so enamored with these beauties. For me, it comes down to (1) usefulness. To me, I have a really hard time with resource-sucking animals, like dogs and rabbits. My husband tells me our dog provides a measure of safety (because he would bark at an intruder) and of course our kids love him. But I could do without the dog. Rabbits, though, really lost their luster fast because I just didn’t see the purpose. Chickens= eggs. Easy peasy. We love our 7-8 eggs a day, and it’s far cheaper than even Aldi eggs.

      (2) hilarity. Chickens crack me up. They make me laugh, which in my world is worth quite a lot.

      So, yeah. You might just find yourself having chickens one day. I totally never expected to, and put up quite a protest. Until I didn’t anymore, and found myself owning and adoring baby chicks. :)

      (My vote? GO FOR IT!) :)

  2. Debbie Coleman says:

    I have also enjoyed watching the chickens from the beginning. I’m the Nana in the family and love seeing the children’s reaction and excitement with the chickens.

  3. Kondwani says:

    Having kept many chickens during our time in Africa, I have a #10 for you: When they stop laying, you can chase them, slaughter them, dissect them, then enjoy a feast. Or will you not go so far???

    • Jess Connell says:

      Kondwani,
      I may. If one of them had turned out to be a rooster, I was contemplating it. (We can’t have roosters in our city.) Thankfully they are all hens.

      But I have thought about it. And for now it’s just that, a thought.

  4. Christy says:

    So, just curious…if you don’t plan to use them for meat, what will you do with them when they stop laying? Don’t they only lay for 2 years or so?

    • Jess Connell says:

      Christy,
      Sometimes they’ll lay for 3, or even 5-7 years (much more rare). When we get there, I will decide. I may use them for their broodiness to sit on eggs and hatch some babies… or just “retire them to pasture” like some people do with horses. I don’t know.

      Maybe I’ll do like Kondwani said and chase them and eat them, although by then, I wonder if they’ll be “tough old birds”?

      Regardless, I’ll have already “gotten my money’s worth”, for sure.

      • Kondwani says:

        Never try to roast one; it would be tough as boot-leather. Some kind of slow-cooked casserole would be very flavoursome, and also would mean that one small bird could feed a large family.

  5. Cathy says:

    We have had chickens for just over 4 years now and love having them. We had three Buff Orps when we first started (along with a mix of others) and my only concern with them is that they did not do well with our heat (we are in SW Oklahoma about 3 hours north of Dallas) in the summer. 2 of the 3 keeled over out of the blue despite having a wading pool available. We have gone to less heavy breeds since and love them as well: Black Australorps, Cinnamon Queens, some leghorns, a Welsummer, Salmon Faverolles, and so on. I’m glad to hear your chicken adventure is going so well! It’s always so fun checking for the eggs each day. :)

  1. June 8, 2015

    […] of these things through too, as we’ve faced them in our family’s decision-making. (And we LOVED having backyard chickens, so please know that I’m not knocking anything on this list, per se.) I’ve thought […]

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