I was never a bird-person, but I always wanted chickens for eggs and meat. As pets, chickens are some of the most useful critters around, which is why if you’re looking for a pet, a chicken might just fulfill your goals. Here are some excellent reasons for owning chickens:
1. Eggs. Yes, we all love farm-fresh eggs, but did you know you can have lower cholesterol eggs that have higher amounts of Omega-3s by free-ranging your chickens and allowing them to forage a bit? So, you can have healthier eggs that taste really great every day with a small flock of hens.
2. You Don’t Need a Rooster. Unless you’re into fertilized eggs or want eggs for hatching, you don’t need a rooster to have your hens lay their eggs. In fact, some chickens do better laying without a rooster because he’s not pestering them all the time.
3. Municipalities are letting people own chickens. More and more municipalities are allowing a few chickens in their ordinances. Even big cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago allow chickens as pets and for eggs.
4. Chickens come in small as well as large. Not enough room for full-sized chickens? Check out the bantam versions of the bigger chickens. Almost every full-sized chicken has its miniature version that is only a quarter of the size. These chickens lay eggs, albeit, small, but you can enjoy owning chickens in miniature.
5. Chickens are cheap. Food consists of chicken feed which costs $10 to $15 for a 50 lb bag. They need wood shavings, waterer and feeder. A coop can be a fenced-in area with a dog house for shelter or you can get as elaborate as you want.
6. Chickens don’t need much space. Adult full-sized chickens need about 2 square feet of coop space and somewhere between 4 and 10 square feet of outside run. Chicks and bantam hens need less.
7. Chickens are great for people with fur allergies. Can’t own a dog or cat? Own a few chickens! They have personalities and are fun pets.
8. You don’t have to train a chicken. What would you train them to do anyway?
9. Chickens have personalities. Like other pets, chickens have some pretty fun personalities and you’ll find they can be fun to watch.
10. Chickens are more interesting than TV. I spend hours watching my chickens – they’re much more entertaining than TV. Some folks who own chickens don’t even own TVs anymore because the chickens are that much more entertaining.
11. Give your child a hobby. It’s hard to go wrong when it comes to chickens. You’ll be teaching your child responsibility while at the same time providing him or her a distraction from less savory activities. One caveat is chicks and little children. Small children can often be too rough on chicks, which is why you’ll have to get involved if your child is younger than 10 years old. Also you will need to teach proper sanitation and hand washing when it comes to chickens, as chickens can carry diseases such as salmonella and E. coli.
12. You can bring chickens inside. There are chicken diapers that allow their chickens to come indoors and be the fun housepet.
13. Less Food Waste. Chickens are garbage disposals when it comes to leftover foods and slightly out of date food. Chickens will eat melon rinds, apple and carrot peels, old salad, old bread (not moldy) and other foods that you don’t want to eat.
14. Chicken Poop is Black Gold. If you have a garden, chicken poop is the best fertilizer when properly composed.
15. Chickens are the new green. When it comes to sustainability, few animals beat the chicken. They eat bugs and grass, waste food and produce eggs and fertilizer.
16. If your chicken is mean, you can eat it. Home ranged chicken is pretty tasty.
Raising Chickens for Dummies, Kimberly Willis and Rob Ludlow, Wiley and Sons, 2009.