Today I want to explain a little about why we raise chickens for eggs. I think it’s a very important step in homesteading, and was one of the earliest ones we made. Here are three of the main reasons we keep chickens, with more to come in a second post.
1. Nutrition – This is probably the most obvious reason we raise chickens. Our eggs are fresh and from well-treated, healthy chickens allowed to free range during the day, with supplemental grain in the evening. Our chickens are eating lots of good, natural things (like insects and plants) that make the eggs much healthier than the caged, solely grain-fed chickens that store-bought eggs come from. (Although during the months we have snow on the ground, they’re eating mostly grain, with food scraps as a supplement to vary their diet. That’s the best we can do in our northern climate!).
2. Keeping chickens saves money (well, sort of) – If you buy the expensive cage-free, organic eggs in the store, then raising your own chickens will definitely save you money. We used to buy the cheapest eggs in the grocery store, but that was before I learned so much about where those eggs come from! If I were to buy eggs now, I would spend the extra money on healthier, cage-free eggs (from a local farmer, if possible!). So in that respect, keeping chickens saves us money. We also keep enough chickens that we can sell some of our eggs, helping to off-set the cost of keeping them.
3. The coop was all set up for us, making it an easy first step – Most people don’t have this blessing. When we moved in, the people who lived here before us had kept chickens. They had a stall in the barn already set up as a coop, with nesting boxes, roosts, and all the feeding/watering equipment we would need. I fully recognize that most people starting out homesteading don’t have this luxury! But it made getting chickens an easy step for us to take, with minimal investment.
So there you have it – three good reasons to keep chickens. In the next post, I’ll talk about how easy it is to raise chickens (really!), how chickens provide food security in an unstable world, and how honestly fun chickens are!