The girls milling about looking for a mid afternoon snack
The girls milling about looking for a mid afternoon snack

Our little flock of young hens have begun to lay – and although still a little on the smaller side – we are once again enjoying our own fresh eggs.

It started with one every day or two, and has progressed the last two weeks to about 7 or 8 per day.  They are actually laying a bit early – usually for our golden comets, they start producing around 18 to 20 weeks – but at just 17 weeks – we are more than happy to have them start a little early!

We often are asked about our chickens and how hard it is to raise them.  Simply put – I would be shocked if there is ever a time in our life that we would not raise at least a few.  Chickens require very little work to raise – and are actually the ultimate all-purpose addition to any home, farm, backyard garden or homestead.

3 of our original nine hanging out on top of the coop.
The benefits of raising chickens go far beyond just the fresh eggs.

Beyond the popular belief –  chickens are not “dirty animals”.  Whether you are raising 3 or 30 – a coop of any size can not only be neat and tidy, but a beautiful addition to the landscape.

The list of benefits go on and on:

*The chicken manure and straw that we clean from their coop is a main ingredient in our compost.  The high nitrogen level of their manure help to heat up our piles quickly and provide tons of nutrients to our plants in the garden and landscape.

Although a little smaller right now - the new chicks are laying strong
Although a little smaller right now – the new chicks are laying strong

*We also use the manure and compost to make our compost tea – an all natural and organic fertilizer that helps our plants grow strong and increase production.

*They are fantastic controllers of insects and pests – keeping our bug problems to a minimum.  In fact – each fall – we turn them loose in the garden to scratch and claw around to help keep pest populations at bay.

*And of course – there are the fresh eggs they provide us with!  For anyone that has never had the pleasure of a farm fresh egg vs. a “grocery store” egg – you have no idea what you are missing.  The eggs have so much more flavor – and with one simple crack into a frying  pan – its easy to see the difference in yolk and color.

The chickens are a huge benefit to the well-being of our garden!
The chickens are a huge benefit to the well-being of our garden!

A good laying breed hen (we have raised both Golden Comets and Leghorns) will lay an average of an egg per day for about 5 to 6 days each week.  Our girls provide more than enough for our family – and we sell the remainder to pay for their food and straw.

So if you have been thinking about getting a few – our advice is to get started!  It really doesn’t take a lot of space or time to raise a few in your backyard – and the rewards are more than worth it!

Like life – it is not without its ups and downs.  Our original nine hens  (See Meet The Original Chickens)  had a wonderful two and a half years at the farm until early this spring, when a mink found a way into the coop and killed the entire flock over a period of a few weeks.

The new flock enjoying their new digs.
The new flock enjoying their new digs.

 It was tough for Mary and I.  As crazy as it sounds – those original nine were incredible, each with their own personality.  But like life – you carry on.  We had already been raising 18 chicks that would be joining the flock – and with the building of the new and very secure coop – they have picked up where our original nine have left off.

Happy Gardening! – Mary and Jim

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28 thoughts on “The Benefits And Ease Of Keeping Chickens…

  • April 26, 2016 at 11:47 am

    I love you blog and my husband and I eventually want to do what you all are doing – love on a farm. Right now we are in a neighborhood and I have been begging him for chickens (and my three year old has started in as well :). His one argument that I don’t have an answer for is we have several vacations planned this summer. What do you all do when you travel? Are there chicken sitting services?or do your neighbors watch them? Thanks for all you all do!!

    • April 26, 2016 at 11:54 am

      Ps sorry for all the crazy typos. Typed on my iPhone and didn’t catch it autocorrecting me. Good night- it made me sound like an idiot 🙂

    • April 28, 2016 at 7:45 am

      Thank you so much for the kind message! Hopefully you will get your chickens 🙂 We do have a neighbor that can feed and water them, but with our set up, they are always good with water and food for at least 2 full days – so that helps. Thanks for your message and good luck with the chickens – you will convince him! 🙂

  • July 24, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Like many of you we are new to chickens! We live in the suburbs of central Ohio and go to our farm as often as possible. How is it working having chickens were you don’t live? Do you have an automatic chicken coop door? How do you make sure that they always have food and water when you’re not there? Any information is greatly appreciated!

    • July 25, 2014 at 11:26 am

      Bev we have often talked about an automatic chicken coop door – but we don’t have power at this point. Therefore, we make a trip out there every day to let them out/in. In the summer, we are lucky enough to have close by neighbors that have young kids who we ‘pay’ to let them out early in the morning for us.

  • June 5, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Like many of you we are new to chickens! They are 3 weeks old. We live in the suburbs of central Ohio and go to our farm as often as possible. How is it working having chickens were you don’t live? Do you have an automatic chicken coop door? How do you make sure that they always have food and water when you’re not there? Any information is greatly appreciated!

  • May 8, 2014 at 1:44 am

    Just received 5 chickens today, full size already laying eggs, for a floor cover I used wood shavings, I feel that is cleaner and smells better and the shavings soak up the wast better then straw, also breaks down faster in the compost then straw.

  • March 10, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    I am a new chicken 10 hens today,mature and ready to lay soon. The question I have is, can I use hay as their bedding that is old, and dusty? would it cause health issues? or would I be better off to put it outside and compost it, and let the hens dig thru it outside?

    • March 10, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      Jane – Congrats on entering the chicken world – you will love it! I would keep it outside and let them dig through it. I always prefer straw to hay – it tends to stay better in the coop -with less issues.

  • October 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    is it true you have to get the chickens vaccinated

    • October 17, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      We have never had our chickens vaccinated. And we have never had to medicate them.

  • July 14, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Everything looks lovely on your farm!!

  • July 11, 2013 at 10:38 am

    I have always used shredded paper from our office. It works really well for the deep litter method. No smell. No cost. I throw a little feed into it so the chickens will turn it for me. In the fall I put all the litter in the garden with additional mulch (hay) to keep the weeds out. I have a ‘no till’ week free garden for two summers now. It’s wonderful.

  • July 10, 2013 at 8:27 am

    We have given our hand to a few chickens this year. We had 6 but 3 died. 🙁 The other three are doing well. We plan to add more next spring after we see how it goes over the winter. (We are in MI)
    Question about composting. We use pine shaving for coop and I haven’t added them to the compost because I thought they would take too long to break down. Is this not true? If it is, should we switch to straw? I hate losing the chicken manure, but haven’t known what else to do.

    • July 10, 2013 at 9:50 am

      It does take a while for the pine shavings to break down – and it is one of the reasons we really like the straw. We used pine shavings when the chicks were really young – because it is better for them not have the straw for the first few weeks – it can get matted in their skin and cause problems with their egg vents. But once they hit the 8 week or so age – we switch totally to straw and it is realyl fantastic to add to your compost pile. Good luck with your chicks!

  • July 9, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    We’re new to raising chickens, I was very intimidated to try it. But as you said, there’s not much work to them and they’ve been a pleasure so far. And they’re great for organic pest control eating all the grasshoppers in their reach! LOL They haven’t started laying yet, I think we’re about 4-5 weeks away for that. Can’t wait! Thanks for sharing this post. (visiting from Homestead Barn Hop)

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

    • July 9, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      Sounds like you are off to a great start! You will love the fresh eggs once they start laying! Thanks for stopping by and good luck with the chicks! 🙂

  • July 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Hello, I just want to say I love te blog. I am sort of a beginner to urban backyard gardening. I have an interest in raising chickens for eggs and compost as well. I have a question about the cost. Is the feed and straw expensive? I have a 10’x10′ dog lot I thought about using to raise maybe 1-3 hens, would this be sufficient? I know I need a coupe as well. Just very interested and without the knowledge to get started.

    • July 9, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      The 10 x 10 area would be big enough to keep a few chickens. Our feed can run anywhere from $10 to $14 per bag depending on brand and type – but that would last you well over a month for 2 to 3 chickens. As for the straw – it can be $3 to $4 per bale – but again – it would go a long way as bedding – and there are certainly ways to get other bedding types on the cheap. All in all – ours pay for themselves with the eggs we sell. Good luck on your quest for raising them and thank you for the compliments on the blog! Jim and Mary

  • July 8, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Mary Alice, I have a suggestion about getting the town to allow chickens. Might make a difference if you live in a smaller town. Also, talk to your neighbors and explain there will be no rooster crowing all night long (and they will if they see a street light, they think the sun is coming up). Might ask them to sign a petition to allow the chicks. But I agree with you, I would just put the cage near the house. Worse thing that will happen, the town will come by and make you get rid of them.

    • July 8, 2013 at 12:22 pm

      Thank you Oliva, I live in a very up scale neighborhood with no street lights. I think I will obscure them in a large storage area attached to my house…they would have limited time out to free range. If anyone else has any suggestions I’m open. Thank you for your prompt response. By the way I live in Pinehurst, NC.

    • July 9, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      That is a great Mother’s Day present! Good luck with the chicks!!!

  • July 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Thanks! We are thinking of getting some chickens and you article was encouraging.

    Donna Johnson

    • July 9, 2013 at 10:27 pm

      Glad to hear it Donna and good luck on your quest to have your own chickens! Jim and Mary

  • July 7, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Love your new coop! We have an urban coop with 3 hens and there’s 0 odor in ours, using the deep litter method. All the pine shavings go straight into our veggie garden. Between the “girls” eating all the weeds and bugs, and tilling the soil, we have the best garden ever. We went from heavy clay soil to nice and fluffy. The fresh eggs are great too, and we sell any leftovers. They really do have their own personality as well. People are just misinformed, since chickens are actually very clean…

    • July 7, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      Hello Nancy, great to hear about your 0 odor issue…I am in a dilemma. I have moved into a city with a no fowl ordinance, and I would like to include a couple of girls to my backyard…any clues on confronting the city to maybe waive this ordinance for a couple of hens(NO ROOSTERS). If I don’t succeed with the city, I think I will put a small coop on my back screen porch…as that is part of my house and I don’t believe they can deny anything I desire to keep in my house….just thought I would include that I have a fenced corner 1/3 acre lot. Any suggestions on confronting the city? Mary Alice munn-Byerly.

    • July 9, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      You are so right – i wish more people knew how little trouble keeping chickens are – and how they are a nuisance to neighbors if properly kept. Jim and Mary

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