When I was a child, one of my friends kept chickens. I used to love going over there to see and pet them. Back then, keeping chickens was something of a novelty, but in recent years interest has seemed to have peaked up. So what are some good reasons to keep chickens?
What better way to start the morning than with a freshly laid soft boiled egg with a rich golden runny yolk? Eating eggs that have come from your own back garden is so much more satisfying than getting ones stamped with a barcode on the shell. No more battery eggs from hens doing time in a cramped prison cell; these will be as free range as you get.
2. Make Friends With The Neighbours
Depending on what breed you buy, owning two chickens could get you up to a dozen eggs a week. Even if you do love your eggs in the morning, unless you have a double helping everyday, you're going to have surplus. Why not share them with your neighbours; I'm sure they'd appreciate it, and you'll keep a good relationship going. My grandpa's neighbours keeps lots of chickens, and they always send eggs his way, meaning he hardly ever has to get them from the supermarket.
3. Roast Dinner
As your chickens grow older, their egg production will diminish. If you are not too much of the sentimental type, and haven't grown too attached to them, then Henrietta Hen would make a lovely Sunday Roast.
4. No Fur
If a fur allergy has prevented you from owning a dog, reptiles are usually the pet of choice, but if you want something soft and cuddly then chickens may be a good alternative. As long as you are not allergic to feathers too.
5. Talking Point
You've just met a new group of people and you're all getting to know one another. The conversation turns to home life, and someone asks, 'so, what pets does everyone have?'
I have a terrier called Butch that chews up all the furniture.'
My cat, Monty, never listens to me.'
I don't have any.'
Then you say casually, 'I keep chickens.'
Heads turn and there's a chorus 'Ooos'. You are now the centre of attention and everybody wants to hear more about you.
6. It's Never Been Easier to Learn
With it's growing popularity, finding out about how to look after chickens has never been easier. For example, At Deen City Farm on the 20th April, they are holding a Chicken Keeping Workshop for £20. It runs between 10.30am – 3pm and can be booked by calling 020 8543 5300.
Guide books on keeping chickens are also about everywhere. At Morden Hall Park, they were selling at least four different books on the subject, each giving to detailed information about the different breeds you can get, and how to rear them.
7. Good For The Environment
To get eggs to the supermarket, the have to packaged and transported, which costs the environment dearly in pollutions. The more food you produce in your own home, the less demand there will be in store, the less transportation will be needed, and the lower our carbon footprint.
8. Wake Up Call
If you intend on breeding chickens, then you'll need a rooster, and if you have a rooster then you won't need an alarm clock. Bright and early at the crack of dawn 'cock-a-doodle-do' and a good morning to you.
As with keeping any animal, it is a lot of responsibility, but just the same, as with keeping any animal, looking after chickens can be a lot of fun.
Not all councils let you keep a Rooster.
I'd love one as I live on the edge of a park. But joondalup city council say no on their web site.
Perhaps I'll keep one till anyone notices.
That's a cracking idea, I'm so eggcited!
The below websites are great for learning and researching chicken care and breeds.
PLEASE do your homework before getting chickens.
Especially be aware a suitable enclosure at night to protect from foxes is essential. In many suburban areas foxes are rife and, like me, if you have ever experienced having your pet chooks killed overnight by a fox it is a horrendous nightmare. Not to mention the terror the chooks went through.
Chickens are best kept free ranging during the day and locked up at sunset. You will probably find they put themselves to bed at night and you just have to remember to lock the hen house.
Chickens are fantastic pets, very smart and interesting. You can successfully train a chook. Please allow them to express their normal behaviour and scratch around and scavenge during the day. Your chooks will be much healthier and happier given the opportunity to do what they are naturally meant to do. Treat them well and you will be rewarded not only with fresh eggs, but also with lovely interactive pets.