Before raising my first flock of backyard chickens I rarely ate eggs.. unless they were cooked into something. Fresh eggs just did not taste all that great to me. I can still remember collecting the first eggs and wondering how I was going to eat them. Fortunately they tasted really good and now we easily eat a dozen plus eggs each week. There is something different about backyard chickens eggs. Mother Earth News Magazine has an ongoing study testing eggs from free-range chickens (versus the caged up variety) and publish the results here. Turns out that my chicken eggs are not only tastier than the grocery store variety, they are also healthier.
Eating fresh eggs is just one of the benefits of having chickens. Other advantages include poop, bug control, and the education of little people.
The first year we lived in our current home, an outdated city ordinance (that we assisted with changing) prohibited backyard chickens. That first growing season we struggled with pests in the garden – white fly, slugs, and earwigs. I new from previous experience that chickens could easily clear up these problems. Sure enough, that winter we were allowed to keep chickens and I let them run free as much as possible. I can vouch that from that point on we really have not had any serious issues with garden pests – with the exception of a coddling moth infested apple tree.
Another reason to keep chickens is their poop. We keep the girls in a chicken tractor and every time I move the tractor, I rake up the manure and used bedding and place this in the compost pile. The high nitrogen poop does it’s magic adding nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to the pile thus turning our compost into the “black gold” that I place into our garden beds. (It is important to fully compost the manure before placing it into garden beds – raw manure will burn your plants). Adding this manure really does make a difference to the quality of the finished compost.
And the last reason..teaching responsibility to my young son. Every morning he and I check in on “the ladies” and make certain they have fresh water and feed, he collects the eggs and brings them gifts of fresh worms and veggie scraps from the yard. He loves on them and in turn they allow him to pet and hold them.