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why chickens?

 
Posts: 77
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I'd love to put together an exhaustive (and creative) list of all the reasons to keep chickens.

We all know about eggs and meat, but let's get out of the box and crazy...

Like, feathers for arrows, poop for fuel... stuff like that.
 
master pollinator
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The reasons I keep chickens....
...eggs
...meat
...eat bugs, centipedes, toadlets
...turn garbage, waste fruit, vegetable waste, slaughter waste, roadkill into edible food
...feathers for artwork
...food for my dogs
...for the fun. It just feels good having chickens around. They are good company.
...fertilizer for gardens
 
Justin Rhodes
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artwork and food for dogs are new to me, awesome!

So, in that case, food for pigs as well.

Plenty a good farmer will feed their dead chickens to the pigs.

And, I'll certainly feed dead chickens to the soldier fly larva (which turns into chicken, fish or pig feed).
 
steward
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Nostalgia... It just doesn't seem like a farm, or like a life without keeping chickens.
 
gardener
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Because they are pretty small and helpful.





 
steward
Posts: 7926
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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It just doesn't seem like a farm...


One hundred years ago, you probably could not find a farm without chickens.
They were too practical to not have some.

They take your culls, waste, & leftovers etc and convert it into a high quality protein - EGGS
They keep pest populations under control.
They provide warmth: quilts and pillows were traditionally made with feathers, as well as stuffing mattresses.
A flock is self-perpetuating with little to no attention from the farmer.

They are a Win/Win situation for almost any farm/rural setting.



 
Justin Rhodes
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Some great new stuff I hadn't thought about yet...

Keep it coming. I'm looking for an epic list (like 100 things). Let's do this, folks.
 
Posts: 1913
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Meat. That is the only reason right at this moment. I'm mad at my chickens.
 
steward
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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Entertainment! Those little fuckers are HILARIOUS!

Roosters make a decent alarm if you get one with good timing and a crow you can tolerate. I've had to replace a few due to bad timing or annoying rackets at odd hours. Got a good one now though.

Some roosters make a good guardian or warning system for predators.

How about the thousands of jokes made about chickens and the road? That counts for quite a lot.

Dead chickens make a nice compost innoculant for a Berkley pile.


 
pollinator
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Location: Whitefish, Montana
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We love our fresh eggs, but one awesome side effect of having chickens for us is the effect it's had on our daughters.

They love the responsibility for caring for the hens and collecting the eggs.

They also learned how to handle them, gently especially in the early days which is great for empathy and general animal care beginner skills.

It was also great to see them develop skills handling our solar powered electric fence.

 
pollinator
Posts: 442
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Manure- my compost has never been so good.

You can keep them in a (relatively) small space (ie: urban)

 
Posts: 300
Location: CT zone 5b
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Low barrier to entry, especially with cost and availability. Know-how abounds as well.
 
pollinator
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They reduce tick population and therefore, the risk of Lyme disease.
 
Mother Tree
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I think my neighbour summed up the most important reasons

"These are my chickens! They give me eggs to eat and to make cakes. And manure for the garden."



Just gotta love her priorities...



There's a whole thread about her here - visiting saudade
 
master pollinator
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I make artificial animals for a living and I bought White Bantam Cochins specifically for their small wing feathers, which can be easily harvested from the live birds.
 
Posts: 49
Location: Zone 11B Moku Nui Hawaii
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Chickens are also great for eating centipedes. We haven't seen a single centipede since the hens started free ranging.

There's also a lot of entertainment value in chickens. We live in town so we just have hens now, but we have two white leghorns, our next door neighbors have three cochins and the other neighbors have five brown rock hens and then there's some stray jungle fowl hens that occasionally wander through so we have a whole swirling chicken parade to watch. Add in a border collie and the neighbor's taco dog (chihuahua) for more entertainment. One of these days I expect a rooster to find this harem and then things should get interesting.
 
pollinator
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Location: Upstate SC
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Vermin control, they'll pick any tape worm segments and roundworms out of fresh manure and a few days later, pick the fly maggots out, both activities breaking up turds into easily sheet compostable fragments.

Pest control, they'll eat ticks, wireworms, earwigs, beetle grubs and beetle adults (except blister beetles or lady beetles), centipedes, crickets, grasshoppers. Unfortunately they'll also eat any earthworms, spiders, lizards, small frogs and small snakes they encounter. Basically they convert inedibles found around the farm into edible form (eggs, meat).

Morning alarm clock, lets you know when it time to think about getting up in the morning. The rooster's morning crow was traditionally believed to drive away evil spirits and that, combined with vermin control in the village, were the original driving force behind the domestication of chickens, not egg and meat production.

Manure, a hot manure that will burn plants unless diluted out with other material or composted.
 
Posts: 65
Location: SE Alaska
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Things I use my chickens for...

Eggs
Meat for people.
Treats for dogs...they love chicken feet and necks.
Treating my aging cat's anemia. Vet said to feed iron rich liver and organs. So all the meat chicken organs got processed into treats for the cat.
Crab and shrimp bait...chicken carcasses make great bait for crab traps. All the slimy, goopey butchering waste (intestines, blood, etc.) goes into mesh bags and used for crab or shrimp pot bait.
Feathers is about all I'm left with and those usually go to the compost.
Some of the nicer feathers are saved for fly tying and fishing lures.

The chickens also get put to work...
Pest control around the garden.
Clearing ground for new garden beds.
Tiling in compost and mulch to prep beds for planting.
Disposing of weeds and garden waste throughout the season.
Cleaning up and tilling under remains in garden beds after harvest.

They also provide great garden soil amendments. Heavily manured bedding from the coop helps keep the compost pile active.
Once a year the deep litter bedding from the run is harvested as black gold for the garden. I use a mix of weeds and waste from around the property, grass clippings, pine needles, a few leaves, sawdust and shavings from the workshop, wood ash from the woodstove, wood shaving from felling and bucking up firewood, small branches and twigs from cleaning up around the property. Pretty much any small woodsy or leafy debris I generate becomes deep litter bedding. A year of chickens adding manure and scratching and turning and this stuff becomes the nicest compost ever. So basically the chickens process yard waste, workshop waste, and wood debris into compost.

 
Posts: 122
Location: VT, USA Zone 4/5
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eggs are meat you don't have to kill

our chickens have a natural desire to go inside at night where it's safe (unlike our ducks!)
 
gardener
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If you ever feel down and unloved, just walk out to your chickens. They'll come running to change your mood.
 
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