The Top 10 Reasons to Raise Chickens


The Java was imported to the United States in the nineteenth century and became influential in creating American breeds. A recent revival of interest saved this breed from disappearing.If you’re wavering on whether or not to install a chicken coop and some clucking critters in your backyard, check out the list below. You might be able to convince yourself (and your loved ones) with these reasons, compiled by author Christine Heinrichs from her book, How to Raise Chickens.

1. Chickens have become the mascot of the local food movement.

When I started keeping chickens in my backyard, back in the 1980s in San Jose, California—the epicenter of high-tech Silicon Valley—our yard was definitely the exception. Even so, the first thing many visitors said was a wistful, “I always wanted to have chickens.” By 2007, there was enough interest to support a book on the subject: the first edition of How to Raise Chickens. It was still unusual, but people were curious. They wanted to know what was involved. Now it’s 2013, and it seems everyone I talk to either has their own chickens or knows someone who does.

As chickens have become more popular, communities have found ways to make it legal to keep chickens. Most communities find some way to allow chickens in urban and suburban settings.

2. Eggs from backyard chickens are more nutritious.

Scientific studies that compared eggs from hens on pasture to those of battery cage industrial hens established that eggs from chickens fed varied diets and allowed to range outdoors are more nutritious, with twice the vitamin E and better omega-3 fats. Nutritional value is a result of what the hens are eating, which is something you can choose if you raise your own.

3. Eggs from backyard chickens taste better.

Having truly fresh eggs from chickens of your personal acquaintance is one of the reasons people want to keep their own chickens today. Like so many other home-raised products, the flavor really can’t be compared to store-bought.

4. It’s totally fun to gather eggs.

Gathering eggs can feel like found treasure. Every child I’ve ever seen delights in searching egg boxes and gathering eggs.

5. Eggs can succeed where other foods don’t.

One friend’s daughter was going through a particularly picky-eater stage. She refused to eat nearly everything; then she discovered our eggs. That kid made those fresh eggs her mainstay for months, until she outgrew whatever it is that makes kids funny about food.

6. Eggs are good for sharing.

A dozen or fewer hens will provide your family and most of your neighbors with plenty of eggs. Sharing them with neighbors generates enormous good will. One Baltimore breeder maintains congenial relations with his neighbors, even though he keeps a rooster, through his generous gifts of eggs. A sense of humor helps, too.

7. Chickens can provide not just breakfast, but dinner.

The accepted wisdom is that if you consider your birds meat, you will not want to name them. You will likely develop some favorites who will have names and be around for a long time anyway, perhaps even stay on as retirees after they aren’t laying many eggs any more. If you are serious about breeding, however, you will be culling your flock and filling your freezer and pot with chicken tasty enough to spoil your palate for fast-food fried chicken.

8. Chickens are easy.

Chickens are Everyman’s Livestock: a lot easier to keep than cattle or pigs. Remember that small groups do better than one or two, because chickens are highly social and need each other’s companionship. If you do have a singleton, it might try to make friends with the cat. And on that note, remember that chickens are subject to predation and even the most careful caretaker loses some chickens.

9. Chickens are good for kids, seniors, and rookies.

For youngsters, poultry is a more accessible agricultural project than beef or swine. Parents without farm backgrounds are less intimidated by chickens. People with disabilities or physical limitations are often able to manage caring for poultry.

10. You da boss.

Having your own flock of chickens gives you a strong foundation of self-reliance. You have your own steady supply of eggs and meat.