Monday, June 27, 2016

Eggs Aside - Five more reasons to keep chickens

Today I have a guest post from a new blog-friend, Sarah from Say! Little Hen.  Sarah is based in QLD and keeps chickens, grows a garden, knits wonderful creations and shares her baking recipes.  I was delighted to find out about Sarah's blog when she emailed me to offer a guest post, so you should pop over and see her blog to find out more, when you finish reading this post about reasons to keep chickens - aside from eggs of course!


We all know that chickens lay eggs, and this is of course the main reason people keep them. I never enjoyed eating eggs until we had our own fresh, home-grown ones. The difference is incredible, and having some chooks to tend is really a joyful experience.

There are, however, many reasons to keep chickens - egg laying aside. Today I'd like to share my top five reasons to keep chickens. I hope one (or all!) of these inspire you to start your own flock.

eight acres: guest post - Five more reasons to keep chickens, aside from eggs

1. Chickens provide a relaxing form of entertainment

There's really nothing more peaceful than letting the chickens out for a wander around the yard of an afternoon. You can potter around the yard yourself, or just immerse yourself into watching them go about their business. With their complex social structure, they really are interesting little animals to observe.

eight acres: guest post - Five more reasons to keep chickens, aside from eggs

2. Chickens provide a reliable source of manure
If you're interested in keeping chickens, I'm just going to assume that you've also got a small interest in gardening. Even if it's just a few perennial shrubs or trees in your yard, your chickens will provide you with a reliable supply of fertiliser. Put hay down under their night perch, as this makes it easy to collect the manure. Your plants will be mulched and fertilised all at once!

eight acres: guest post - Five more reasons to keep chickens, aside from eggs

3. The third reason for keeping chickens also has to do with gardening - chickens are wonderful at it

There's a reason you don't want them breaking into your veggie patch - chickens are expert excavators, and unlike us, they dig over the soil in the most beneficial way, and without grumbling about it. When a patch is finished and ready to be sown-over, letting your chickens in for a week or two (depending on the size of the area) is a really good thing to do. They'll gobble up the remaining plants, and any bugs that are on them too; they'll turn over the soil, aerating it and helping mulch and plant matter break down more quickly, and they'll fertilise as they go. The chickens will also enjoy good heath from this improved diet.

eight acres: guest post - Five more reasons to keep chickens, aside from eggs

4. Chickens reduce household waste

I remember the thrill of getting out a container and putting our vegetable scraps into it the night before we picked up our first trio of layers. It was really exciting!

Now keeping a scrap bucket on the bench has become part of the norm. Every vegetable and fruit scrap goes into it, from the potato and carrot peelings to the wrinkled forgotten apple at the bottom of the fruit bowl. The chickens also gladly consume unwanted leftovers from the fridge (I always seem to have more left over rice than I need), mixed up into a bubble-and-squeak type of mash for breakfast. They enjoy leftover stew, curry, rice, potato, pasta, gravy - you name and they'll eat it. When I make vegetable stock, I strain it through a sieve and the cooked down veggies go straight into the scrap bucket. The chickens go a little crazy for soft cooked vegetables!

eight acres: guest post - Five more reasons to keep chickens, aside from eggs

5. Chickens make wonderful pets

They really do. If you have a child that is an animal lover, chickens are one of the easiest care and most budget-friendly pets you can buy. They are not fragile like guinea pigs or budgies, and unlike rabbits it's legal to keep chickens anywhere in Australia. They are easy to care for, needing only clean water and proper feeding.

Although chickens don't have to be allowed to free range, they'll certainly appreciate it and it's an easy task for your child to let them out to forage after school.

They don't need walking or vet checkups like dogs, and aren't going to harass the local wildlife like a cat. If you buy the right breed, they'll be just a cuddly as a dog and certainly very interactive. I've known pet chickens that have been patient enough to endure their nails being painted.