Egg laying hens are a great addition to the homestead. They are fun, easy, enjoyable and the whole family can be involved.
Our grandchildren just love to come and visit with the chickens. They run to check for eggs as soon as the car door opens. When they find eggs, the children become so excited! They eagerly gather them in the egg basket and bring them into the kitchen.
If you are looking for a low maintenance animal that is good with children, chickens may be just what you are looking for. Having chickens around have other advantages as well. A ready supply of fresh organic eggs, fertilizer for your gardening needs and keeping the tick population on your property at bay are the perks we have seen.
5 REASONS TO ADD LAYING HENS
Chickens are low maintenance animals. They don’t require a lot of fuss which makes them fit in nicely within the homestead hustle and bustle. And, if you do need to go away they are an animal that can easily be cared for by someone else. I have even heard of some that install feeders and water containers that will sustain the birds for a few days.
Depending on whether or not you decide to free range your chickens will determine how often the coop will require cleaning. We like to keep a tidy coop so we opt to clean once every one to two weeks while free ranging the birds two to five hours most days.
Chicken feeders come in various sizes depending on how many birds you have and your coop setup. Having a large feeder means you don’t have to fill it up as frequently.
Water feeders also come in various sizes and depending on your climate and how much sun/heat is cast upon the water determines the frequency at which you will have to change out the water. Our chicken coop receives the cooling morning sun.
On our homestead during the hot summer months water is changed daily. Any algae that may have formed is wiped off, all parts are rinsed well and dried before refilling. Our chickens love a fresh cold drink on a hot summer day.
During the cold winter months, we switch out the water feeder to a larger heated one so we change out the water less frequently. This is mostly dependent on how dirty the water gets.
•KIDS CAN EASILY HANDLE AND CARE FOR THE CHICKENS
Kids love to be an integral part of caring for the birds. While a young child may not be able to handle the weight of refilling the water feeder, they can certainly scoop the feed into the appropriate feeding dish.
They can rake out the straw from the chicken run area and replenish the straw.
They can fill a dish with oyster shells purchased from a local feed store. This helps to make the egg shells nice and strong. If the chickens need it, they will consume it on their own.
Children love to check for eggs. They get so excited that every once in a while, one drops to the ground and breaks or it gets placed into the egg basket with too much force and it breaks. But that is only a rare occurrence.
Chickens love all the attention that a young person can provide. The children love talking to the chickens and the chickens take notice of their voices. When the children are still the chickens even come close enough for the children to pet them.
We give our chickens little snacks each day. This is optional but it gives the kids an enjoyable way to interact with the birds. These mostly consist of vegetable scraps like carrot peels and various seeds. All types of seeds are their ultimate favorite; pepper, melon, squash and pumpkin. The children enjoy giving treats as much as the chickens enjoy receiving them.
•KEEP TICK POPULATION DOWN
In some parts of the world the tick population keeps rising each year. Chickens are all-stars at finding and eating these pesky bugs when they are able to free range.
Before we got chickens our dogs would have numerous ticks each day that we would have to pull off them. And sometimes we would even have to remove a tick from us. The property has a lot of trees and deer that roam through it.
Since having chickens we rarely have an incidence with ticks. The chickens certainly earn their keep.
•FRESH ORGANIC EGGS
Having the ability to walk to your chicken coop for a fresh, hot off the press egg is quite a blessing. When the chickens are fed an all organic diet with the ability to free range for bugs and legumes their yolks are bright orange. This translates into much higher nutritional value including raised levels of omega 3 fats to reduce inflammation. So, more bang for your buck.
Selling the extra eggs produced from your laying hens could also be a consideration. Or you might decide to raise a larger flock of chickens to have a small egg business.
This was but one reason we decided to have a small flock of chickens. I know how valuable chicken manure is for growing amazing vegetables. It has a high nitrogen level and plants grow lush and large. With today’s shrinking farmland finding a source for chicken manure in my area has literally vanished. Now we have a ready source from our backyard hens that beats any bagged chicken fertilizer on the market.
We are certainly very happy with our homestead laying hens. The fresh organic eggs, the rich nitrogen filled fertilizer and the impeccable tick control they provide us, are some of the great benefits to expect. Their personable nature and chicken antics are just icing on the cake.