I am convinced that everyone who can should have a backyard flock of chickens. They are easy to take care of once you’ve done your research, you get the most delicious eggs every day or two, and they are so unbelievably weird that they guarantee hours of laughs.
Ever since we got our chickens, it seems like half the people we meet have always wanted their own backyard flock, but haven’t gotten started yet. If that’s you and you’re reading this, stay with me as I try to convince you to finally cross that road.
1) They Poop Breakfast
My cats are definitely excellent at being cute, chasing each other, and cuddling, but they aren’t nearly as useful as my chickens. We have six girls in our backyard flock and they give us six eggs a day, five days a week! That’s 30 eggs a week, y’all! I don’t know about your kids, but mine can devour eggs, especially eggs of the deviled variety. We haven’t bought eggs from a store in weeks — thanks, ladies!
And they don’t just lay plain old grocery store eggs either. No bleached white eggs around here. Our hens lay mostly brown eggs, but one lays beautiful speckled eggs and another lays light blue eggs. That’s right — BLUE! I remember the first time I saw a blue egg, back before we had pet chickens; I actually refused to eat it because I thought it was diseased or something. Wrong!
Not only are eggs from our backyard flock not diseased, but research suggests that eggs from hens raised like ours actually have more nutritional content than the typical eggs you’d find at the grocery store. That’s because our gals spend their days foraging in our yard and enjoying the sun, instead of living their “cage-free” lives in an over-crowded barn. Please enjoy this cartoon while I step off my soapbox.
2) They Eat Stuff You Might Not Expect
Our chickens eat a lot of things that you would expect chickens to eat. Of course they always have the traditional layer pellets available. They also eat weeds and forage for bugs. Worms are a favorite. Big worms are an even bigger favorite and by big worms I mean small snakes.
But chickens don’t stop with the expected chicken food menu and thank goodness for that. I have been trying to live my life a little less wastefully recently and the girls have really helped my up my game. They eat so many of our kitchen scraps. Leftover biscuits? Makes sense that they would love that. Oatmeal? Yep. Scrambled eggs fed to a baby chick who arrived sickly? Super weird, but that’s also a big yes.
My personal favorite chicken, Snacks, actually drank my coffee one morning while I was busy trying to get a fire started, so apparently even human beverages aren’t out of bounds.
3) They Provide Hours of Family-Friendly Entertainment
My kids and I don’t often see eye to eye when it comes to television shows. I can only do so many minutes of My Little Pony or Blippi before my eyes start glazing over. But if there was a Chicken Network starring our backyard flock, the whole family would be on board. In fact, we just transitioned our dining room into a sitting room so I can watch the girls through the bay window for hours on days when it’s too cold to go outside.
Chickens are actually pretty smart, which means they are awesome playmates. We have seen videos of other families who have trained their chickens to do obstacle courses (stay tuned; the Arndt’s are always up for a challenge!) that have inspired us to spend our family time dangling bread in front of our girls’ faces to get them to play along.
And it’s not just the humans in the family who are entertained by our backyard flock. Our cats have been known to spend hours watching them play. I imagine they are daydreaming about how tasty the chickens would be if they weren’t family.
4) They Bathe in Dirt
I can’t help it. One of my very favorite things to do is watch the chickens bathe. Our girls have a spot on the front of the house, right up against the brick, where they wash themselves in the beautiful North Carolina dirt. Our Snowy Easter Egger (aka Glinda the Good Witch) heads off for her bath with perfectly white feathers and leaves stained reddish orange. Clean and fresh!
Chickens cleaning themselves can be a little alarming for some new chicken owners. Honestly, it can be difficult to understand what they are doing. They kind of fling themselves around and twist in strange ways. Don’t worry, this is all perfectly normal and very weird chicken behavior.
5) And They Have Plenty of Other Strange Habits
I love all the weird habits and strange little quirks that chickens have. I love how some chickens sing loudly to the let the entire world know they have just laid an egg. Or how they dig at the ground in a silly rhythmic motion when they are foraging. You have probably heard the phrase “heading home to roost,” but if you’re like me, you probably didn’t know that roosting is when chickens find a spot as high off the ground as they can, sit down, hang on tight, and go to sleep. It’s absolutely adorable.
And speaking of chickens sleeping, I just learned the other day that chickens can actually sleep with one eye open. And not like how my son sometimes sleeps with his eyes half open (creepy!). No, each eye is connected to a different half of their brain, and the part of the brain attached to their open eye is actually “awake,” allowing them to watch for predators if they happen to be the unlucky gal who gets the edge of the roost.
I’ll leave you with this. If you love to laugh and want a pet that will bring you hours upon hours of joy, just do some research, maybe even take a class, and GO FOR IT.
Fellow chicken owners, tell us: what hilarious things do your chickens do that make you happy to have a backyard flock?