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Many different benefits to raising backyard chickens

 

LARA WORDEN

Guest Columnist

 

Chickens can be a colorful, beautiful, entertaining addition to your garden or backyard, and a few hens can supply all the eggs your family needs, along with litter – manure mixed with bedding – that can be used as a source of fertilizer for the garden.

Home-raised chickens may not be an option for everybody, but they are more of an option than you may think.

Even if you live in the city, once you realize the myriad benefits a small flock of hens can provide, you’ll start thinking of your non-chicken-keeping neighbors as the odd ones.

Of course, you should first figure out if you have what it takes to raise a small flock of chickens, which falls between raising a dog or a cat in terms of degree of difficulty. Generally speaking, you should be able to take care of your flock of chickens in a few minutes each day.

Also, before getting chicks or hens, you first need to find out if any ordinances may prohibit keeping poultry on your property or limit the types and number of birds you can raise. A call to your local zoning office prior to getting birds will allow you to make an informed decision on what types and how many birds are allowed.

 

Reasons to Raise Chickens

 

Fresh eggs. Chickens give you an egg (pretty close to daily) in return for food, shelter and care. How many other small animals pay for their room and board?

Fresh fertilizer. Yes, good old fashioned chicken poop. For free. Non-chicken owning city dwellers actually have to PAY for this commodity, but not you! You get it fresh and free, right from the natural source.

Their organic bug killers. Chickens love to eat bugs. Those same bugs that love to eat your garden. If you let the chickens eat the bugs, the garden will be left for you!

Unlike your children, they will never get too big! Chickens are small. They stay small. They won’t eat you out of house and home because they’re having a growth spurt. You won’t have to build them a new home because they outgrew the old. They take up very little space.

They are relatively cheap (no pun intended). The biggest expense in raising chickens is providing them a place to live and food to eat. It’s even cheap to buy the chickens in the first place. You won’t have to take out a loan to start a small city brood of hens.

You don’t have to be an expert to raise them. Learning about them doesn’t take a Ph.D. In fact, it’s easy to get started and if you have questions, you local Agriculture Extension Agent can answer most of your general questions.

They are free entertainment! Chickens have a lot of personality! And they will entertain you without even trying.

 If you would like to learn more about raising a small flock of chickens, contact your local NC Cooperative Extension Service office, 704.736.8461.

 Lara Worden is Area Specialized Agent with Gaston County Center of the Cooperative Extension.

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