convince me to get chickens

I bet the title gave it away, huh?

Look, I’ve spent a lot of hours making as sure as possible that logistically this can work. I know it can. I’ve laid out the coop, the  run, and thought about the realities; the mice and raccoons, vacations and ventilation and freezing cold. I’ve stepped outside with the plans and walked the space, going over each detail in my head.

We’ve raised chickens in earlier years.  We kind of know what it’s about, but we forget over the years.  We won’t have space for more than five hens, probably more like four, because the basis of the whole shebang is using an existing structure which is only about 5′ x 6′ with a concrete ‘seat’ dissecting it.

One of the realities gave me pause. The cost. It’s not a fortune, but still…the lumber, fencing, food and water containers, the litter, feed and grit. And yeah, I’d want to build a chicken tractor to give them access to free food, but more importantly the garden when I want.

But as far as I can determine, raising chickens for eggs will save a couple of bucks at best, and at worst cost more.

I know that several of you have chickens. I know that you’re knowledgeable.  What’s your best shot at convincing me to commit to 365-days-a-year’s-worth of care and more money than we’d ever spend on eggs?

PS: “They’re cute” isn’t a reason. I don’t do cute.

PPS: I probably won’t be that hard to convince.

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37 thoughts on “convince me to get chickens

  1. We are still fighting the county to be allowed to have chickens in our suburban neighborhood, Why? Because even with the cost of feed and initial cost of coop etc, it is still well worth it in the long run.

    Save a few dollars on eggs? It is so much more than saving a few dollars, how much is your health worth? Free range farm grown chicks, according to a study done by Mother Earth News, give far healthier eggs than those store bought. Plus you know what went into your chicks to produce egg, basically you know where your food came from. Not to mention the treatment of the chicks compared to those commercially grown in battery cages.

    Ok health not worth the little added expense? What about your gardening efforts? As an avid gardener, do you not want the highest yield and best quality fruits and produce? Chicks scratching the dirt, naturally aerating your soil daily. Chicks eating harmful bugs and pests, keeping them off your plants. And what about the NPK added to your compost, giving you a high nutrient compound for a healthy start to any garden.

    We have been fighting our county for three years and have made little progress, but I will keep fighting until they wake up and realize the benefits of a few back yard chicks. Our full story is on my blog about our fight.

    How about you, did I at least convince you?

    Liked by 6 people

  2. In the end the question becomes less about cost and more about health. Save Green Team has already shared some articles supporting why home raised chickens are healthier. Also, are you comparing true, free range organic eggs available in some stores or are you basing your price point on Costco? At our local co-op it’s almost $9 a dozen for true small farm, organic, free range eggs. From my 6 chickens I get 4-6 eggs a day. At that price they’re provided 2-3 dozen eggs a week, or $18-$27 bucks a week. More than enough to pay for their feed, grit and bedding (and initial start up cost will eventually be made up for too).

    But really, it wasn’t cost that pushed us. The final straw came when I was researching phytoremidation of arsenic for my undergrad research project. I found out that arsenic was often fed to chickens and other livestock as a supplement that boosts growth. Under USDA Organic, you can’t use arsenic in feed or as a supplement. But still, the fact that many conventional farms in America not only cram chickens into a tiny cages that is a breeding ground for diseases, they also feed them arsenic, a known carcinogen, was just too much. In 2013 Pfizer voluntarily pulled it’s version of the arsenic supplement, Roxarsone, but many countries continue to allow use of the feed and farmers stocked up before the ban was in place. And this is just one of the many silly substances they feed to chickens an other animals. It’s worthy to note that arsenic is a metalloid and does not biodegrade or decompose.

    Lastly, our chickens are just a joy to have. After coming home from a long day in the office, its a gem to release the chickens into the yard and watch them forage. Chicken tetherball is pretty darn hilarious too (just hang up a apple or cucumber and watch the fun).

    Liked by 7 people

  3. I agree with what the others have already said, and I will add TASTE! Farm fresh eggs are so much better tasting. And for us, another factor is that we will not support the despicable way factory farm chickens are raised, so we choose to raise our own.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Are you planning to get day-olds or older birds? What breeds do you want? Have you thought about adding some runner ducks? Can you use the extra manure? Do you know about Vitamin K2 content in pastured eggs? Have you got your order at the hatchery in yet?.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Trish, I’ll be getting chicks from the local Tractor Supply. They carry whatever breeds their supplier sends, normally appropriate breeds for small farmers. No thanks on ducks, because I barely have room for the chickens. I can definitely use the extra manure; it’s one of my prime motivators. And I’m not familiar with Vitamin K12. Good questions!

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  5. I have a sneaking suspicion that you don’t actually need any convincing. If you do your set up right, the day to day chores are minimal.

    More so than the eggs, I’m doing it for free fertilizer for the garden. The eggs are just an extra bonus, especially when they just went up 50% in California!

    There are always ways to get supplies inexpensively or by trade. I was up and running for under $200.

    Go for it!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Here in California, the price of eggs just skyrocketed because of a new law about egg producers having to give chickens room to stretch out. So now a dozen REGULAR eggs, not the much-better-for-you organic free range eggs, is approaching $5.00. I can’t wait to get out of here and move to TN, and have my own small flock of “girls”.

    Also, did you know, if you get more eggs than you can use, they can be stored for up to nine months? So, during the winter molt, when the girls aren’t laying, you can still eat fresh eggs. Here’s the info on how to preserve them: http://www.preparednesspro.com/safely-preserving-eggs

    Liked by 2 people

  7. 1. They eat scraps
    2. They weed the garden
    3. They give you a reason to get out of bed every day
    4. They are pleased to see you
    5. They have entertaining habits
    6. They have a vocabulary
    7. Their eggs will be less traumatised than those in the supermarket
    8. Their poo is fertiliser
    9. Their feathers are so soft
    10. The pecking order is funny too.

    11. You know you want to!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. From reading your post Dan, you already know the answer to the question “should I get chickens”? Thorough research is important as long as it doesn’t lead to ‘analysis paralysis’. So what answer do I feel you have already arrived at? That money alone (saving or spending) is rarely enough to wholly base a decision upon. Do you value other attributes of chicken keeping, highly enough that would make the commitment worthwhile? These ‘attributes’ could be; food security, organic assurance and even the enjoyment of caring for the chickens. There is no right or wrong decision – just the right decision for you Dan. Hope my rambles are helpful.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Ok, Dan. First, I agree with Lizard on every account. I may be a little open with my flock (11), but I free range them when ever I can and we don’t have a fence. I lock them up at night of course. They have free range of 2.5 acres, but only go to certain places close to the coop. I live in a rural area with subdivisions around me. I am the only one in the “neighborhood” with chickens. We have had a couple of instances where the neighbor’s dog killed a few- a couple times, but they are so used to my dogs not attacking them, that they do not run if chased. So, I deal with it. They will love you. And they will poop on your porch. They are a constant source of entertainment, but the coop needs to be cleaned out. I use the deep litter method. I am the sole caregiver, and I enjoy the work. They are great at eating the bugs, but once again, if left on their own, they will poop on your porch. I love the colored eggs, and sell the extra for a couple bucks. It’s all part of the farm life experience. I feel good feeding my family healthy, fresh eggs. One of our hens actually hatched an egg last summer. It was a rooster of course. They will find you extremely interesting. If you do invest in a fence, put it around your garden. Chickens love gardens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your encouraging reply! I’ll need a shot of brave to let them free range, but who knows? At the very least they’ll get around frequently in a chicken tractor. I’d cherish poop on the porch. Free fertilizer!

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    • We had rabbits way back when. A longgggg time ago. I used them for meat, and butchering them was horrid (I’m not the squeamish type with butchering either, but rabbits were very hard). That’s something I’ll never do again.

      If I don’t butcher, then they’re pets, and right now pets aren’t in the forecast. But who knows? Minds change 🙂

      Like

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