Why Raise Chickens on a Suburban Homestead?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Color of Breakfast & the Promise of Fall 004

So—you have started to turn your city plot of land into a suburban homestead. You have begun living frugally, you’ve simplified your life; begun to grow your own food and learned to preserve the harvest. Now, it’s time to start raising chickens. Why? You may ask. My answer…why not?

For one thing there’s the egg thing. Fresh out-of-the-nest eggs with bright orange yolks and shells that take a bit of effort to crack. Then of course there’s the supply and cost of eggs in the retail market–$6.00 per dozen and rising last I checked.

But, besides the eggs, you know that the hens producing those wonderful eggs have lived a charmed life compared to their industrialized cousins, full of fresh air and sunshine; kitchen scraps and garden trimmings. The zero foot print isn’t bad either. After all there are no resources used to get those eggs from the coop to your kitchen, unless of course you count the steps you take.

Another advantage of having your own chickens is the unending supply of fantastic manure they produce, which your garden and trees will thank you for by giving you an exceptional harvest. And, if you clean and re-bed your nesting boxes and coop before the fall weather sets in you’ll have a great supply of mulch to winterize your perennials.

Free-range chickens are also the perfect low cost rototiller. While they are clucking about entertaining you, they are also churning up the soil, grubbing around for nasty bugs and even the occasional small rodent that may venture into their path. And then, there’s the personality thing. Chickens are wonderfully funny and will give you and your kid’s hours of enjoyment. There’s nothing I like better than standing at the kitchen sink watching my girls cluck and scratch and run around the yard. They are way better than your cat! Your cat may be entertaining too, but she won’t give you breakfast. Am I right?

But, more importantly, at least to me, the best reason to raise your own chickens is good quality, wholesome, chemical free and humanely processed meat. That’s right, the meat chicken thing. In an 8’x10’ fenced in area, over the course of 70 days I can raise enough scrumptious meat to feed this little homestead for an entire year. This isn’t a permanent pen either. When the meat chickens are gone the pen gets taken down so the space can be used for another purpose.

Week 5: In the barn.

Week 5: In the barn.

The journey to raising your own chickens doesn’t have to be an arduous one, lasting months or years. It can become your reality in just a few weeks. Even if you live in a big city, raising chickens can be a leap worth taking. And, I bet you’ll find out that your neighbors think it’s a cool idea, too.

There are a few things to know about raising chickens—egg layers or meat—so check out these articles for more information.

The Practice of Keeping Chickens

Backyard Chickens

Raising Meat Chicken in Suburbia

The Great Chicken Debate


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