While I'll admit that I didn't carefully plan out all the details to my first batch of chickens, sometimes it can really help to plan it out. The news spreads fast that if you want the best eggs, look no farther than your own backyard! Hence, many people buy chickens initially for their eggs. However, there are many other purposes for chickens that may suit you well.
Among one of the most popular reasons to get chickens is for their egg production. It's a very rewarding investment, and a tasty one too! However, not every chicken breed is a great layer. Some of the ideal breeds for maximum egg laying include Rhode Island Reds, Jersey Giants, Leghorns, Orpingtons, Australorps, and the Sex Link varieties.
It's also important to consider that most chickens will decrease the amount of eggs they lay as they get older. Typically, a hen will began to lay less frequently after the age of 2, but many chickens have been known to lay occasionally even into 5-7 years old!
Also very tasty, raising your own chickens for meat can be a great experience. It's not usually something for those with a weak heart or stomach. You might wish to consider raising chickens for meat if you would like to know where your meat has come from, are looking to become more self-sustainable, or if you would simply like a more flavorful meat.
Raising chickens as pets is also becoming a worldwide phenomena. More and more people are realizing that a chicken is not just the stereotypical "bird brain". If the chicken is a good, docile breed and has also been accustomed to being around you, they can become very loyal pets. Some breeds are more docile and friendly than others. Some of the friendliest breeds include Silkies, Easter Eggers, and Orpingtons.
Because chickens can also make wonderful pets, they can also be used for therapy and stress reduction. Just as people use therapy dogs, therapy chickens are becoming more popular. It helps to heal you mentally if you hold a chicken and gently peck them. Soon enough, you feel much lighter and like the stress has been lifted away. Chickens are also being used as therapy pets for people with disabilities.
While it is a lesser known use for chickens than egg production, many chicken owners enjoy showing their birds. This can be done at local fairs and 4-H, and you and your chicken may even be lucky enough to go home with a ribbon! Showing chickens certainly takes a lot of effort and attention to detail, as the appearance of the chicken matters greatly. Many different breeds can be shown, though each chicken may have a better potential to be a show chicken than others of the same breed. If you are considering showing chickens, it is best to choose a reputable breeder who specializes in show-quality or heritage-quality breeds, not hatchery-quality.