More people turning to sustainability means a growing abundance of innovative ways to live green. Even with all the new eco-conscious inventions, farming and gardening remain two steadfast ways to sustain yourself while protecting ecosystems. You may have given it a thought or two yourself, but wondered if it was worth it. Should you try raising some farm animals, such as chickens? Will homegrown goods taste better than store bought? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding yes.
Raising chickens is a great place to start for those new to agriculture. They’re relatively hassle-free and small enough to have many of them in your yard at once. Many people tout the health benefits of raising chickens, too, for both your food and lawn. You can bypass the chemicals associated with industrial agriculture and food production by keeping chickens at home.
It takes a bit of practice at first, as with all new things. Soon enough, you’ll be an expert at caring for these friendly fowl.
Whether you raise your chickens for eggs, meat or both, you’re likely to get higher-quality products than you’d find at the grocery store. They’re fresher, contain less fat and no growth hormones and have essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acid and vitamin E. Store Bought eggs have the same nutrients, but they’re often not as beneficial due to poultry stress and feed quality.
However, how well you raise your birds and what you feed them determines the overall quality. What they eat will eventually make it to your system, which is why so many individuals have turned away from antibiotic-filled chicken. Antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria have often manifested in humans and caused widespread sickness because of this industrial farming practice. Some brands label their chicken as containing no antibiotics, but you won’t know what you’re getting unless you understand the distinctions.
All-Natural Pest Control
Shelve your insecticides and herbicides, because you won’t need them any longer with chickens in your backyard. Chickens will eat anything edible they can find, from grubs to beetles. Their voraciousness also means you’ll have to be mindful of what you feed them, but their eating habits are relatively easy to learn. Egg-laying and meat chickens have similar dietary needs, and their no-no list consists of mostly the same items you wouldn’t feed your dog.
Say goodbye to days of a lawn ravaged by pests and wave hello to new, green grass. Skipping the chemicals will give you better vegetation and a healthier body, too. Pesticides can cause long-term health effects such as allergies, cancer or nervous system damage for farmers who use them.
Fertilizer Without The Synthetic Runoff
Chicken poop makes a fitting fertilizer for your garden — earn your green thumb while raising eggs and meat for the table. Industrial farms use synthetic fertilizers, but these aren’t favourable due to their environmental impact. A downpour can send gallons of synthetic fertilizer runoff into lakes and streams, where these bodies of water become overloaded by nutrients. Nutrients sound positive, but they aren’t always a good thing. Phosphorous and nitrogen can poison fish who are unused to these heightened nutrient levels.
Runoff can even affect human health by entering our drinking water and making it unsafe for consumption. Algal blooms, which can occur from excessive fertilizer runoff, make both humans and marine creatures sick by contaminating water sources. The water’s oxygen content decreases, suffocating the fish living there, while a high nitrate presence poisons humans.
Create a compost bin using chicken poop and food waste from the kitchen. No more stressing over what to do with your excess table scraps — throw them in the compost or feed them directly to your chickens. When you do your scheduled coop cleaning, put their waste into the compost bin with water and organic matter to get the bacteria going. How often you clean your coop can vary, but many small farmers use the deep litter method and use a droppings board to collect the poop.
These feathered friends are lovely pets to have around, in addition to their tangible benefits. Many chickens are as loving as your typical dog or cat, and they like to snuggle and play with their owners, too. Keep them entertained, well-fed and happy, and they’re sure to return the affection.
Backyard Agriculture Makes For Healthier Goods
Ready to turn your yard into a chicken farm? Be sure to check local city ordinances to ensure you’re following the guidelines for raising farm animals. Once you establish your coop, you won’t want to stop adding chickens to your stock. Welcome a tradition of fresh eggs for breakfast every morning — what better way to start the day?
Emily is a freelance writer, covering conservation and sustainability. You can read her blog, Conservation Folks, for more of her work.