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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Pros and Cons of Keeping Chickens

Rhode Island Red Bantam Chick about six weeks old
 

Pros

 
Having had chickens in my life for many decades, naturally I am going to think of more pros than cons.
 
The obvious benefit of having chickens is that they will lay you eggs. Have you ever seen hens in laying cages by the thousand? Not a pretty site. The poor hens are so stressed out. They often have few feathers. They can barely move and are often pecked by the other stressed out hens in their tiny wire cage - wire floor as well. They cannot roost or sleep comfortably.
 
If you keep your own chickens you can really pamper them or just plain look after them. They will have a much better life than hens in commercial egg laying facilities and you are not subsidising caged birds by buying their eggs.
 
Chickens will provide you with fertilizer for your garden. They will also eat all your table scraps with relish.
 
Chickens will help control insects in your garden. They love to snap at flying insects, or peck up earwigs and bugs.
 
Chickens will help control weeds in the garden and willingly do lots of the digging for you. If you have a bed that needs turning over, just start it off and the chickens will bring it to a fine tilth. They are very good at that.
 
Chickens are also much better than dogs on New Year's eve. Many dogs can get very frightened by all the firecrackers going off and demand lots of attention inside the house. Chickens will sleep right through the noise.
 
These wonderful two legged creatures are happy to be outside. They don't 'need' company from humans. So long as all their needs are met they make no other demands.
 
And you don't need to take them for a walk.
 
My flock of chicks and hens provide me with lots of enjoyment - just standing watching them can put a smile on my face. They love to have a talk back also.
 
Today I heard one of my neighbours clucking and talking to the hens over the back fence and later in the day another four year old neighbour was calling out to the hens - 'Hey Rooster' over and over. He loves them too. He and his sister love to receive gifts of an egg occasionally or some feathers and a real treat is to come and visit the hens.
 
If you are going away for a week or so you can leave enough food and water for them. Just get a neighbour to collect the eggs every couple of days and everybody will be happy.

Cons

Well, I can't think of many.
 
Oh yes, those occasions when I have to clean out their cage.
 
And on the long summer evenings, I have to go out three or four times to locks the hens in because they just won't go to bed. They love the garden too much.
 
You do have to watch where you walk in the garden because they do leave little blobs of fertilizer around the place. If there are too many of these, just let them out for an hour or so in the evenings. You don't have to let them out at all if it doesn't suit.
 
Well, looking at the arguments set out above, it looks as though its a good idea to keep chickens.
 
I do have lots more pros tucked up my sleeve.