There are many different reasons to build your own chicken coop. Although raising your own chickens isn’t for everyone, it’s much more attainable than you think! Here are a few of the benefits of raising chickens.
- Nutritious Eggs: Although you may think that store bought eggs and free range eggs are the same, they are not. In fact, eggs from free ranging chickens contained “25% more vitamin E, a third more vitamin A, and 75% more beta cerotene” and also contain “two to three times more omega-3 fatty acids”. Pastured hens also produce eggs with less cholesterol and saturated fat than store bought eggs. Commercial eggs are lacking in nutrients partly because of what the caged chickens consume but mostly because they aren’t fresh, and air seeps into the eggshell which effects the nutrients and the taste.
- Antibiotic Free: Caged chickens are fed unnatural diets with antibiotics and hormones to make them grow bigger and faster. These hormones and chemicals however, cause eggs and the chicken’s meat to lose nutrients and flavor and can also be harmful for humans to consume. In fact, some meat producers add arsenic to their bird’s feed to increase growth, make meat pink, and kill certain diseases but the consumption of arsenic over a prolonged period of time can cause heart disease, cancer, decrease in brain function, and diabetes! The use of antibiotics in feed can also cause antibiotic-resistant infections to occur, because bacteria and viruses are becoming immune to the antibiotics that we use regularly. And after the last massive egg recall it’s only natural to begin to question what we are really consuming. If you raise your own chickens you will know exactly what (if any) hormones or antibiotics they are taking and be able to control that to fit your needs.
- Composting and Gardening: Chickens are great for composting. You can feed them your kitchen compost, as they will eat almost anything. Because they are omnivores you can even feed them meat scraps. (However, you should also feed them chicken feed to ensure they are getting proper nutrients). Giving your chickens food waste also helps to keep more out of landfills, which is helpful to the environment and therefore beneficial to everyone. Chicken waste and eggshells are rich in nitrogen, making excellent fertilizer for your garden. Chickens are also great for gardens because they are natural scavengers and will eat unwanted insects like the ones that eat your summer vegetables or even ticks, fleas, and mosquitos. Their claws also turn the soil, creating better aeration, breaking up vegetation, and accelerating the decomposing process, keeping your garden cleaner and growing faster.
- Children Love Chickens: Raising chickens is a very kid-friendly activity. Your kids will undoubtedly love collecting the eggs, and (lucky for you) they can even do the necessary but dirty chores like feeding the chickens and cleaning the chicken coop. I do not have kids, but other bloggers who raise chickens say that their chickens have helped to teach their kids responsibility, and also helps to show them where their food comes from with the “farm-to-plate” idea. Having chickens can also be beneficial to adults, as chickens are very social (although not very smart), they love to receive attention and will even let you hold and pet them. When humans hug someone they love, or a beloved pet, the chemical oxytocin, a stress-reducing hormone, is released in the brain. Petting a chicken can do the same thing! As you can see, raising chickens could be very beneficial for your mood and your children’s!
Having chickens is also much easier than you think because they are low maintenance animals. Aside from feeding them daily and occasionally changing the straw from their coop they require very little attention, less attention actually than a dog would need. Chickens hardly require money either, aside from their food and the cost it takes to build the coop initially. You never have to walk your chickens, wash your chickens, or take your chickens to the vet.
Now, if you have decided that you are interested in raising chickens, the next step is to pick a spot for them and to build a chicken coop. I found great chicken coop ideas on Pinterest, ranging from chicken hutches to chicken mansions. I would recommend browsing them all and also looking on the Internet (or coming up with your own idea) to build the chicken coop that best suits your needs. For my chicken coop, I went with a premade kit with a smaller design that will only house the chickens at night, and they will be free ranging throughout the day. This design worked with my needs the best but I suggest you play around with ideas. There are many pre-made kits online that are reasonably priced and are possibly the best deal if you lack the designing and carpentry skills to build a chicken coop, like I do.Here is the link to the chicken hutch I bought. Check out my video to see my chicken hutch!