Why Keep Backyard Chickens
The popularity of having backyard chickens has been increasing over the last few years, and it is simple to see why. There are, of course, fresh eggs to look forward to, however, did you know that they have a whole lot else going for them?
From learning about self-sustainability to free therapy, below are some good reasons to have your own backyard chicks:
It’s the obvious reason – you will have a supply of available fresh eggs. Not to mention the convenience, because you will have no need to get out of your PJs and go to the store to cook a healthy, fresh breakfast.
Non-GMO and Organic
Caged hens are given a diet of cottonseed, soy, and corn meals … three big GMO crops. If you actually take the old adage ‘you are what you eat’ to heart, you will be wary of eggs that come from those hens. In having your own, you’ll know exactly what they are consuming and may avoid giving them antibiotic-laden and engineered crops.
Free-range eggs from the backyard have been proven to have a greater nutritional value than battery eggs.
There’s over 7 times the Beta Carotene and Vitamin A (essential for excellent eyesight) and nearly double the Vitamin E in eggs that are free range. As it’ll come to the essential fatty acid Omega-3 (necessary for healthy cholesterol levels, heart health, and positive behavioral and mental health) the free-range variety will win again with an amazing 292 milligrams, vs. 0.033 milligrams in battery eggs. Also, you will receive less saturated fat in eggs that are free range.
Not just are you going to receive organic, nutritious eggs, yet you may be safe knowing that your omelet is served cruelty free. You might think you already are supportive of a cruelty-free life for farmed chicks by purchasing free range however, truthfully, commercially-marketed ‘free range’ ones do not have the wonderful origins the industry would have you believe. There’s actually no description of what ‘free range’ is and, even with that, under 1 percent of chickens within the United States are considered free range.
Be heroic and save ex-battery hens from a slaughterhouse. Each year, 300 million birds get crammed into cages which are too small. Why not play your role in giving them a second chance? They will reward you with companionship and protein rich eggs.
Perhaps free chicken manure is not something to get excited about; however, if you are proud of your garden it may work wonders. Actually, chicken manure is categorized as being amongst the most desirable manures because of its high level of nutrients. Using this is a vital part of organic and sustainable agriculture.
It is estimated that owning between five and ten chickens ought to generate enough fertilizer to care for your whole veggie garden and lawn for the year. It also is wonderful to add to the compost.
As you get the backyard chickens, you will have an excellent excuse to get rid of the chemical laden bug killers and pesticides. The chickens are going to do that task for you. They’ll consume virtually any bug, which includes grasshoppers, ticks, slugs, and beetles.
Between a consistent supply of fertilizer and slug-free garden, the roses never will have looked so fantastic.
Reduce Food Waste
Around the nation, food scraps comprise around 17 percent (29 million tons) of what’s sent to landfills. Yard waste is somewhat more at 33 million tons. The chickens are able to help you out here, as well!
Besides some chicken food, they will consume the majority of kitchen scraps – vegetable and fruit peels, cooked beans, bread, oatmeal, cooked rice, pasta … the list goes on and on. Although, they cannot have all foods; therefore, be certain to know what is bad for them, as well. Meat and additional animal products should be avoided.
Save Heritage Breeds
Because only specific chicks are good for meat, and other ones are uniquely bred for optimal egg production, chickens today look substantially different from their ancestors.
You might take on the part of conservationist by adding some rare heritage breeds to the yard. Various breeds have various characteristics: therefore, select which breed is proper for you based upon their temperament, as well as your available space and location.
Chicks might just be the ideal sidekick for all gardeners. A pest control and manure source all in one, they additionally will rid the garden of invasive weeds which sprout up all over.
As they claw and scratch the ground, they’ll disperse and eat all of those weed seeds which have blown in. And next year, you will be wowed with your tidy and neat garden.
Move over dogs and cats, these gorgeous creatures might be the next therapeutic animals! They already are being utilized to assist those who have autism and the elderly.
Keeping chicks is seen as a form of therapy for kids on the autism spectrum by getting them involved in caring for and feeding the chickens, therefore helping in the promotion of independent living skills.
Also, they’ve been in use for those who have dementia and additional psychiatric disorders. Because they’re always moving around, socializing and pecking, they are viewed as calming.
Due to chickens being clever creatures, every one occupying a various role within the pecking order, keeping the chickens in the backyard provides you the opportunity to check the individual quirks and personalities of each of the new pets.
Reduce Food Miles
All of us have heard of food miles – distance over which food is transported from a producer to a consumer. You cannot cut down on this kind of environmental impact any more than keeping a food source inside your own back yard.
Also, as you clock miles up getting waste foods away and over to the landfill, it seems chickens will save you miles two times as they eat your table scraps up, as well!
Lesson in Self-Sustainability
If you’re already growing your own veggies and are keeping a compost heap, you are headed in the right direction to being self-sustaining.
Having your own chickens is step two – for the weed and pest control, the eggs, and the simple fertilizer source.
Also, you do not need to be concerned with recalls due to salmonella outbreaks or egg shortages!
Taste of the Country Life
Did you always have a desire to reside in the country yet your family or job meant you had to be close to the city? Keeping backyard chickens includes one method of bringing country life into the city!
They do not require a lot of room to be content (of course, it’ll depend on how many you have) and you will get a taste of keeping your very own animals and gathering your very own food – fresh from your very own mini-farm.
Did you know there are communities committed to raising backyard chickens? Conduct a fast search online and you will see. It is an excellent method of sharing your new passion with other people, to pick some tricks and tips up, and brag about how fabulous these new additions are to your family.
It is great for real-life socializing, as well. Saying that you have chickens is an awesome conversation starter and I will bet your children’s friends will want to visit and look at these cool creatures.
It is Cheap
There are some initial start-up expenses. You will have to build or buy a chicken house, make sure your new pets are safe from predators and buy feeding equipment and food.
Though, as it is all set up, it is fairly affordable to care for the quirky ladies. You will be cutting down on garbage costs and household waste, you will have rich soil in order to cultivate your own crops, you will not have to splurge on insect repellent or weed killer and, of course, you will get organic, cheap eggs – which sometimes can be a little expensive at the store. Do not forget the amusement, companionship, and free therapy!
Overall, it is a good deal!
What else might you rise for on a Sunday afternoon than to spend time with your chickens? It might seem a bit of a weird option of pastime to some … yet so’s stamp collecting.
As it concerns hobbies, it is a fairly low maintenance one and may be much more rewarding than creating a jigsaw puzzle.
Before Starting to Invest in a Chicken House…
…there are some things you must consider!
These chicks will totally be dependent on you for safety, shelter, and food. Are you completely dedicated to taking care of them before taking them on?
Predators are a severe problem for backyard hens. Are you able to ensure the chicks are well cared for, as well as protected from snakes, coyotes, and dogs … and from the elements?
Accept that, over a period of time, a chick’s abilities for egg laying will diminish. Are you willing to care for the chicken into old age even if it is not generating one egg per day?
There’s a 5 percent chance that the hen will turn out to be a rooster (at first, it might be hard to tell their gender)! Are you going to be happy with early morning wake-up calls? If the answer is not, what’ll happen to the rooster?
We mentioned that having hens might be cheap… yet it isn’t free. You will have to factor in the price of caring for them if they get sick, feeding them, and potentially even paying somebody to watch them when you’re on vacation.
Disinfecting and Cleaning Your Chicken House
Spring is here and it’s the time to do a thorough disinfecting and cleaning of your chicken houses after the lengthy winter. It’s particularly a fact if you’re thinking about bringing new birds in or replacing the flock, be they show birds, meat birds, or layers. Decontaminating the chicken house is critical to prevent mites, E. coli, respiratory viruses, mycoplasma, Marek’s disease and additional chicken health issues. Even more critical is the control of SE (Salmonella Enteritidis), particularly in laying hens. Salmonella Enteritidis may colonize inside a poultry’s intestinal tract without having to cause obvious disease within the poultry itself. It might cause the organism to invade other tissues and ultimately find its way to the ovary and reproductive tract, and contaminate the egg itself.
To decrease Salmonella Enteritidis and additional health risks, a thorough dry cleaning, disinfection, and washing of the chicken house after each flock or at least one time per year is suggested. Successful cleaning is difficult work and will require systematic completion of many sequential steps. Each step is critical. Skipping a step or doing a half job during any point is going to make the next step more difficult and lead to failure.
Begin by taking out all birds from the chicken house to be cleaned, in conjunction with all equipment which may be cleaned in another area, like waterers and feeders.
Blow or sweep dust and additional loose dirt off of ceilings, walls, light fixtures, nest boxes or cages, air inlets, fans etc. onto the flooring. Remove every piece of feed from the feeders. Scrape accumulated dirt and dust and manure from roosts and perches. Remove every piece of litter from the flooring. Litter may be added to the compost pile. Sweep the flooring to get rid of as much dry material as you can. With a smaller house, wet-dry shop vacuums do an excellent task of eliminating this material. But, be careful to clean your filter often as fine dust from the house might clog the filter easily and make a vacuum work harder or cause motor burn out.
Turn off the power to the structure before using water for cleaning. Wet cleaning can be performed in 3 steps: rinsing, washing, and soaking. Hot or warm water is going to do a better job at getting through organic matter than cool water. You may use an inexpensive neutral detergent, such as dish soap.
Thoroughly soak heavily soiled spaces (roosting areas and perches, flooring, etc.). Use a low-pressure sprayer to fully soak every surface. Soak until all accumulated manure and dirt has softened to the point it’s removed easily.
Wash all surfaces in the structure, particularly ceiling trusses, window sills, wall sills and all surfaces in which dust and dirt might accumulate. The washing agent may be either a neutral detergent (with the pH between 6 – 8) or alkaline detergent (with the pH above 8). All alkaline substances differ in their strength with the strongest ones causing internal injuries and burns if swallowed. One mild alkali is sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and moderate alkalis involve borax, household trisodium phosphate, and ammonia. Strong alkalis involve sodium carbonate (washing soda) and caustic soda (lye). Mix in warm water—160 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer is best.
High pressure sprayers are great for this step, yet manual scrubbing using a moderately stiff brush includes one of the top methods of insuring a complete cleaning. Manually inspect to ensure you’ve eliminated all the manure and dirt from every surface. Be certain to carefully clean all electrical parts. You might need to remove cover plates then vacuum these spaces.
If there are metal surfaces that have hard water scale, you’ll have to utilize an acid detergent on these surfaces to eliminate the scale. Acid detergent will involve acid as the main component that’s utilized in dissolving mineral deposits (Magnesium precipitates and calcium) or any hard water deposits from the surface of equipment. Two major kinds of acid detergents include: organic (Vinegar, Citric Acid), and inorganic (HCL, H2SO4).
A last rinse instantly after washing is suggested to eliminate any dangerous residues and obtain a spotless structure. Mop puddles up as they rapidly can become a breeding ground for salmonella.
Completely air dry the structure if disinfection can’t instantly follow rinsing. Open all ventilation openings and windows. If available, use a fan or blower. Cleaning on a sunny, dry day will help in the process of drying.
Make all repairs to the building before the last disinfection step. Seal all rodent entry holes on the inside and outside of the structure. Apply a tiny bit of spray foam insulation to the hole, and pack in fine steel wool then top using more spray foam.
It’s a critical step that the small flock owner normally might overlook. Disinfectants must only be applied after the equipment and building are completely cleaned, ideally directly after rinsing. Disinfectants may be applied by fumigation, aerosols, or sprays. Do not be intimidated by the idea of “fumigating” the hen house: for the majority of small flock structures, using garden-type sprayers are the easiest way, and odds are you already own an appropriate disinfectant around your house.