Monday, December 14, 2009

More than a dozen eggs in less than a dozen days - a dozen pros and cons

A few of our chickens just started laying eggs a little over a week ago, and we already have collected 18 eggs!  That is craziness - I shutter to think how many eggs we'll end up with when they ALL start laying!  I want to start getting into selling them to make a little Mommy Money on the side, but the coordination for that is for another day... definitely after the holidays!  So, with eggs coming out of our ears and loving it so far, I wanted to list out a dozen of the benefits to having backyard chickens, and then a dozen reasons against having these fine feathered friends!  Over all, I recommend having them, but you may find that they are not for you...

12 Arguments Promoting Pro-Poultry:
1 - EGGS!  Need I say more?
2 - They have endearing personalities and are entertaining to watch - they come running when they see me come out of the house for some snacks, and follow me around the yard like a row of baby ducklings!  Some of them try to escape, while some are happy staying in the coop.  Some try to "talk" to you, while others are more shy.
4 - Make great pets - they are not as dumb as I was lead to believe (a couple of them are pretty dumb though!), so they are actually enjoyable pets - not just for utility!
5 - COMPOST - Thier poops and the chicken coop scrapings make an EXCELLENT addition to your compost pile.  Since they only eat organic matter, their poops are like little golden nuggets of composting nutrients!  You can scrape out the entire chicken coop, pine shavings and all, and just put it all on the pile!
6 - Responsibility for the kids - feeding, watering and collecting the eggs.  For older kids, possibly a Lemonade stand, but with eggs for sale!
7 - Teaching experience for the kids - teaching them where our food comes from is  invaluable!  For older kids, it gets them to think about the things they eat, and makes it easier to show them the value in choosing locally produced food, and organically-fed meats
8 - Sharing with Family, or with those in need - if you have egg overage, you can share your bounty with friends, family, or those in need!
9 - You can sell your eggs for some extra cash
10 - They don't stink like some say they will, as long as you put a fresh layer of pine shavings down, it keeps the smell at bay
11 - Sounds cruel, but if you need it, you do have an emergency food source in their meat
12 - They'll eat bugs in your yard!  This could be good and bad - they will eat the "bad" bugs, but they may also eat the good bugs that are good for your garden... but overall, it is a good think I think!

12 Arguments for "Fowl" Feathered Foes
1 - One might turn out to be a rooster because it is not a 100% guarantee when the breeder or feed store "sexes" them (tries to determine the sex when they are baby chicks) - most city areas do not allow roosters, and even if they do, you or your neighbors may not enjoy the 4am wake-up call!
2 - Feeding - you have to buy feed, even if they are free range, you will need to buy some Layer Feed to be sure they are getting enough nutrients.  You also have to buy Oyster Shell for them to munch on to keep their egg shells strong (like a calcium supplement) and also some grit to keep their digestive track moving.  If they free-range, they will get more of a balanced diet naturally than if you keep them in a smaller area.
3 - Cleaning the coop - you will need to do it eventually!  You can get away with only doing it a few times a year if you use the "deep litter" method by putting clean pine shavings on top, and raking in the poops.
4 - Chicken-sitter if you go out of town - many people are uncomfortable with chickens because it's not the usual pet, so be sure you have someone you can trust to check on your chicks when you go out of town
5 - Must have a coop - you must have a covered/enclosed coop for them to sleep at night, and you must fully fence it in - top to bottom - so that the predators don't get in.  There are even urban predators like Raccoons that can kill your chickens, or even small rats can get in and start stealing their food.
6 - Responsibility of having another "pet" - especially the feed.
7 - City codes may not allow chickens, so be sure to do your research before you buy them
8 - Eat your plants and flowers if you let them loose - they will pick at and eat almost any flower or plant, and sometimes peck at your garden veggies, so watch out if you let them free range in your yard!
9 - If one gets sick/injured - you must decide whether or not to put it down (and eat her for dinner maybe?) or to pay the veterinary bills to make them well again.  Most people say it is not worth the expense, unless they truly are your treasured pet, and not just your utilitarian pet.
10 - Can stink if you don't clean out your coop or don't lay fresh pine shavings down
11 - If you have dogs, watch out!  Our dog loves the chickens and chases and plays with them, and has never snipped at them.  Our friend's dog came over and actually dug right under the fence and attacked one of our chickens the minute he arrived!  It is usually easier if your dog has been around the chickens from the time they were baby chicks and were raised around the dog.
12 - They'll eat the bugs in your yard - this is mostly good in my opinion, but can be bad if you find that they are eating too many of the "good" bugs that actually help your garden

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