Keeping chickens at home is a fun, engaging way to connect, and care for, your food. To improve the health of your flock and nutrition in your eggs, consider a large enough chicken run or safe access for them to free range and expand their diet. Just be sure that areas where you don't want them are properly closed or have restricted access.
Are there any benefits you’ve found in raising your own flock of chickens? Any struggles or downsides of raising chickens that you've experienced? Let us know on Facebook. And, don't miss our San Diego regulations for backyard chickens info!
Our team can attest to the superiority of fresh eggs! Laid mere minutes before being fried sunny side up in our cast iron pans, fresh eggs are delectable. Truly free range, well-loved eggs taste so much better. You also don't need to wash off your eggs if you keep clean nesting boxes which means no need to refrigerate if kept in a shaded, dry location. Just rinse them off before cracking and cooking!
Eggs from free range chickens contain seven times the Vitamin A that battery eggs do (chickens raised in cages). There is almost double the vitamin E. In addition, they have 292 mg of Omega 3s, as opposed to .033 mg in battery eggs. If you don't have the space or ability to free range your backyard chickens, expand their diet profile with proper nutritional supplements like crushed oyster shells, fresh green waste from your kitchen and the occasional treat of soldier fly larvae or earthworms.
Just because something is labeled “free range” does not always ensure that the animals were treated well. Companies that advertise as free range may not be as kind as they would like you to think. Less than 1% of chickens in the US are actually considered to be free range. Chickens are also social animals, so always have a minimum of two or three. Five is a great number for your average family. The best way to make sure your eggs came from humanely treated chickens is to raise them yourself! If you can't raise chickens yourself, but want to eat eggs from happy chickens consider the Happy Egg Co or get to know your local neighbors who want to sell their excess eggs.
Chicken manure is a great fertilizer for your garden. It is one of the most valued manures because of its high nutrient content. When you are raising chickens in your backyard, fertilizer is cheap, natural and readily available to help your garden grow lush and beautiful. You can also add it to your compost to give it extra nutrients. Just take care in the direct application of poultry manure, especially in large quantities! Chicken manure is high in nitrogen and can easily "burn" sensitive plants. Composting manure is a great way to reduce the nitrogen volatility and make it tastier for soil live and plant roots.
Chickens will eat almost any kind of bug or grub. As omnivores, chickens will eat anything they can catch. They will clean your garden pesticide-free and leave your flowers looking beautiful, that is, until they scratch them out of their homes! Chickens don't have much respect for anything planted, especially if they're hungry and foraging on their own.
If you do let them out, make sure your precious garden plots are fenced off or protected as these scratchers will destroy a bed with your back turned. We like to let them out in our beds once plants are more established.
Chickens love seeds. They will peck and eat all the pesky unwanted seeds from your yard before they get a chance to germinate next season. Of course, this means they'll also pick any beneficial seeds, so timing is important in letting them out to roam.
Loving, careful handling of young birds helps imprint them on their human care takers.[/caption] Chickens are very intelligent creatures. If you hold and pet them when they are young, baby chicks will imprint on you as their parent. This bond grows as the chickens age. As adults, chickens can be trained to accept humans into their flock. In addition, they have great memories and can remember over 100 human or animal faces. They mourn one another and create deep complex relationships. Chickens can make very loving pets for you and your family. If you are introducing a new chicken to an existing flock, beware pecking orders. It's best to allow some safe introduction in the form of a protected cage as you introduce new members to a flock. Also, be aware of any health issues a new introduction may bring and quarantine them properly.
Setting up a chicken coop is the highest cost related to raising chickens, which is eventually balanced out by money you save on eggs. Even if you source all the materials for free, you'll still end up spending about $200-400 on other miscellaneous parts, not to mention your own time. The cost of chicks and feed is much cheaper than buying eggs every week and is great for cutting costs on your grocery bill in the long run. Consider using your fresh kitchen greens to feed and raise your chickens. Your garden can also grow additional forage and seeds to feed your chickens.
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