Fear of the unknown sometimes keeps us from moving forward in something we know could be beneficial. Something like taking the leap into raising backyard chickens. But today I want to encourage and inspire you to go for it by listing TWELVE benefits of raising chickens.
Our family has experienced firsthand the benefits of keeping chickens including food, company, and eventually, side income. When it comes to homestead animals, they’re great for “getting your feet wet.” But, I’m not saying they’re for everyone. It is very important to do your research and know (at least somewhat) what you’re getting into before starting to raise chickens as livestock, or even just pet chickens. You should also check your local ordinances to make sure keeping your own flock of chickens is allowed.
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There was this time almost ten years ago when my parents were first preparing to move out to the country. (I didn’t realize then that my husband and I would be so close behind.) But I remember my dad getting excited about the prospect of being backyard chicken keepers, and I have to admit… I didn’t fully understand the benefits of raising chickens. I guess found buying nice, brown, cage-free eggs from the grocery store satisfying enough. And the idea of raising our own livestock was still a little unfamiliar to me.
Having this list before we started would have made me feel a bit more excited, so I hope that’s what it does for you!
Benefit of Raising Chickens #1: Knowing where your food comes from
When we buy chicken or eggs from the grocery store, we don’t get any personal interaction with our food source. This makes it difficult to know the exact living conditions and health of the animal providing us with nutrition, as well as how the final product is handled. I like raising my own food because I know exactly where those eggs or meat came from, down to the exact chicken.
Benefit #2: Eating a higher quality product
If you’ve never done it before, I challenge you to crack open a store bought egg (even organic eggs) side by side with a farm fresh egg. Observe the difference in the color of the yolk. Every time I’ve done this, the farm fresh egg yolk has a rich, orange color. Meanwhile, the store bought egg is just barely yellow. When you cook them up separately, you can notice the difference in taste also. Factory farms aren’t able to keep their chickens healthy because they deny them fresh air and skimp on their nutrient intake. It really shows when you compare those with the taste of farm fresh eggs coming from healthy, happy chickens.
The same can also go for meat. When you raise your own chickens, you have control over the quality of their feed intake, as well as when it’s time for them to be harvested. This often results in a higher quality, better-tasting meat.
Benefit #3: Raising chickens is fun and entertaining
Have you ever watched a small flock of free range chickens? I mean, just sit there for 5 minutes and observe their behavior. It can be seriously funny. (ha)
I love watching them strut around, take dust baths, forage in the grass, and be chased by toddlers. The entertainment factor may be one of the best benefits of raising chickens. Maybe…
Benefit #4: Chickens can pay for themselves
Many chicken breeds are desirable for hatching baby chicks. In my area (Tennessee), chicken keepers are selling chicks for anywhere between $2-5 each. With an incubator or broody hen, you could hatch up to 20 or more chicks every 21 days.
Plus, you can sell any extra eggs for at least a few dollars a dozen. Using either or both of these methods, the cost of chicken feed (plus more) is easily covered.
Benefit #5: A way to get kids involved in homesteading
Chickens are great at getting kids interested in homesteading and caring for livestock. There are several easygoing, family-friendly breeds to choose from. Once you bring your first backyard chickens home, they will feel like part of the family for you and your kids! Plus, they’re easy to care for. My 9 and 6 year olds are the primary caretakers for our chickens. They do all the daily care like feeding, watering, and collecting when they lay eggs. They also spend time just hanging out with them on a regular basis.
Benefit #6: Raising chickens provides an excuse to get outside
There’s nothing wrong with just having gardens and non-animal duties around the homestead. But chickens are a great addition if you’re needing some motivation to get outside during the colder months.
It’s also kind of nice for me to be able to say to my kids, “Hey, I’m going to check on the chickens” and sneak in a few minutes of alone time.
Benefit #7: A way to “get your feet wet” with homestead animals
This may sound really weird, but I hear all the time that chickens are the “gateway drug” to homestead animals. Chickens are also easy to raise even in urban areas since they don’t require that many square feet of space. Many people fall in love with the benefits of having livestock after keeping a low maintenance backyard flock. Don’t come at me if you find yourself looking at goats, cows, and pigs next…
Benefit #8: Chickens provide free pest control
Chickens love to eat bugs, including the terrorizing garden pests and relentless flies that take over during summertime. Let them rummage around the nastiest, buggiest areas of your property (like compost piles, for instance)–and they’ll take care of that for you.
Benefit #9: Ending up with less kitchen waste
One great benefit to raising chickens is that you can feed them food scraps from your kitchen, some of which can actually be very healthy. Chickens will devour even random stuff like leftover salmon skin, overripe fruits, and kale stems. And by doing that, they absorb plenty of beneficial nutrients like vitamin e and beta carotene.
Now, we are mindful of what and how much of certain things we feed our chickens. But we still give them stuff like our kids’ leftover spaghetti occasionally.
Benefit #10: Getting free fertilizer
And what do chickens do with all that food they eat? Turn it to poop, of course. Okay, okay, all that food does help with egg production for the laying hen too.
But here’s an awesome tidbit: chicken manure is chock-full of good stuff for your grass. Consider adding any manure you procure after cleaning out the chicken coop to your compost pile or bin. It will help turn it into black gold that benefits your gardens as well! I also suggest letting the chickens roam the leftovers of your vegetable garden at the end of the season. All the half-good food doesn’t go to waste, it helps with the health of your garden, and makes pulling old plants a little bit easier.
Benefit #11: Chickens can provide pleasing aesthetics
If you know me, you know I have a thing for aesthetics. Mayyyyybe this is why I desperately wanted to raise the Lavender Orpington breed here on our homestead. I love their stunning purplish-gray color.
I also love the look of a mixed flock. There’s something so pleasing about looking out into the backyard to find chickens in an array of black, brown, cream, white, red, gray, and even more colors.
Benefit #12: Raising chickens can help you find community
You’d be surprised at how many “chicken people” there are out there. Buying and selling poultry locally serves as an opportunity to meet new friends; ones who may be on a journey very similar to your own. So get out there and mingle with your fellow chicken owners–share ideas, swap breeds, and learn from each other!
Benefits of Raising Chickens: Summary
Just like with anything, there are drawbacks and disadvantages to raising chickens, too. But anyone with the space and motivation can learn how to raise backyard chickens successfully. There are lots of benefits to raising chickens whether for meat, eggs, or even just as great pets.
More chicken & small-scale homesteading posts:
How To Stop Chickens From Pecking Holes in Their Eggs
Are Chickens Hard To Keep?: A Quick Guide
14 Frugal Homesteading Blogs: Homestead Living Tips
Homesteading Without Land: How To Start
Tiffany is a mama to four boys, second generation homeschooler, and college graduate with degrees in both music and business. Now, she is a natural living and homestead enthusiast who loves gardening and raising chickens, pigs, and cows. A lifelong believer in Jesus, she has a burning desire to bring Him glory in everything she does. A worship leader and musician, she also loves to write songs and play the piano in what spare time she finds.