Pets > Farm Animals > Chickens
Here are ten top reasons for keeping chickens.
1. Low maintenance pets - they don't need walking or grooming, just feeding and watering a few times a week, shutting in and out, daily egg collection and cleaning out, any time between once a week to once a month depending on how many chickens you have.
2. Cheap - chickens are a lot cheaper to keep than a dog or cat. With feed costing as little as 4p per day for a large fowl hen fed on non-organic layers mash, they are very cheap. They can also be fed scraps from the table as treats, further reducing feed costs, and also recycling.
3. Great tasting, nutritious eggs. Once you have tasted an egg produced in your own back garden, as fresh as can be, there is no going back. The yolks are a deep orange, rather than the pasty yellow that comes from the supermarket, and they stand proud in the frying pan, instead of spreading out, because they are minutes, hours or days old rather than weeks or months old.
Research shows that chickens allowed to roam freely and eat grass lay eggs that are higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E and at the same time lower in cholesterol than eggs from the supermarket, making home-produced eggs healthier.
4. Personality. Believe it or not, chickens have great personalities. There are always the shy ones, and those that run up to you to be picked up and cuddled. They do quirky things that will light up your day, everyday.
5. Walking, living, breathing, beautiful lawn ornaments. Just take a look at our breeds section and you can see the wonderful array of chickens available - not all chickens are brown!
6. One step closer to sustainable living and self-sufficiency. Chickens give us eggs which just don't have food miles, and there are many other reasons why they help the environment . . . . read on.
7. Organic, chemical free, pest control. Chickens love to eat bugs that bite you, such as mosquitoes and ticks, and the bugs that harm your plants like slugs. They sometimes even eat baby mice whole (all together now, EWWWWW!)
8. Free fertiliser. Wave goodbye to buying expensive fertiliser from the garden centre. All it takes is a few months on the compost heap to rot down, and it is one of the best fertilisers on earth, better than cow and horse manure. You can also make liquid fertiliser from their droppings.
9. Save a hen from a life behind bars. By producing your own eggs, you are reducing demand for eggs from hens in terrible conditions at factory farms, and some free range farms. By not buying their eggs, you are sending a clear message that you don't want what they're selling.
You can also rescue hens directly from a battery farm. Just speak to Jane Howorth at the Battery Hen Welfare Trust (UK only, sorry, although you can always ring up a battery farmer yourself).
10. Be unique. Despite their growing popularity (apparently chicken keeping is the fastest growing hobby in the UK), chickens are still comparatively rare. Amaze your neighbours with tasty blue eggs from your araucanas, your furry silkies and your friendly hens that come up just begging to be cuddled, and your garden will be the envy of your street with all that free fertiliser you've been putting in.