After many years of eating fresh eggs from chickens raised at home, I’m probably spoiled and take them for granted. My friends and family rave about our eggs whenever we’re able to share them. For our family, raising chickens has become more than just great tasting eggs.
Several years ago, my youngest son expressed a desire to raise chickens like his buddy. He was very persistent and has a few drops of farmer’s blood in him, so we decided to raise some chickens in our back yard. Raising “backyard poultry” has been a growing trend for many years for a variety of reasons. In this blog, we’re going to explore the reasons for raising your own egg-laying poultry, and some things to consider before diving into this adventure.
Why Do People Raise Backyard Chickens?
1) People raise poultry for the eggs.
This one is a bit obvious, so we’ll call it #1 and get it out of the way. Grocery store eggs can be weeks old and you never know for sure the conditions the egg-laying poultry are raised under. When you cook a fresh egg next to a store-bought one, you can see the difference in the pan, on the plate, and taste it all the way down.
2) People raise poultry to control their food supply.
When you control the chicken and the feed, you know what the source of your food is. So if you want to go 100% organic, there is feed for that. If you’re worried about eggs from over-farmed, stressed, caged chickens, then you don’t need to worry when you can control the conditions (both dietary and living) of the chickens in your backyard!
3) Chickens eat tons of insects.
They are great foragers, mulching brushy areas and consuming ticks, mosquitoes and just about anything that moves that they can fit in their beaks. I would be surprised if, after a year of raising chickens at home, you didn’t experience a notable decline in the number of insects around your home.
4) Chickens produce beneficial manure.
If you let your chickens free range in your yard, they’re even dumping it right where you want it! You can’t potty train them, so you have to take it as they drop it. Just try not to step in it, and don’t let the dog eat it!
5) Chickens make great pets for some.
My son spent plenty of time holding the chickens in the early years and enjoyed that a lot. He’s moved on now and just enjoys selling the eggs, but many children (and plenty of adults too!) find it enjoyable and very educational to have them as pets. If this is a goal, be sure to raise them as pets from day one. Most breeds will make fine pets if handled appropriately as baby chicks.
Where to Start?
If you want to start with chicks, it’s encouraging to know that they are fairly low maintenance, requiring only food, water, heat, light, and a little space. If you’d like a lot more information on how to raise chickens, Koopman Lumber holds free seminars every spring led by our friends from Blue Seal Feed who will walk you through everything you need to know. Please contact your local store to sign up in Uxbridge, Whitinsville, or Grafton. We’re also taking orders for baby chicks.
There is a lot to learn and a few cautions that are all covered at the seminars. (For instance, even female chickens can be really noisy, so if you have sensitive neighbors this adventure might not be for you.)
Finally, some folks will raise birds for meat. This is a completely different adventure that I’ve participated in twice. Basically, these birds are bred to convert food into meat in a short amount of time. They aren’t pretty and they don’t move much. But in a few short weeks, you’ve got a lovely roaster that you know exactly where her food came from. I’ve only done it twice, but it was a positive experience nonetheless, thanks to a friend that knew exactly what to do.
Koopman Lumber has the seminars, the baby chicks, the food, and supplies to offer everything you need to tap into your inner farmer. We even give a rundown of all of our available breeds, their pros and cons, and pricing on our poultry page! Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help your experience!
Another great resource is http://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/index.html As with anything else, be careful what you read online. We’ve found McMurray to be a trusted source for information – and great baby chicks!