Are Chickens the new "dog"?

Having a small backyard flock of chickens is a growing trend in countries around the world. And it is not just country folks who enjoy raising chickens, more and more cities are relaxing their laws and ordinances and allowing chickens, so city dwellers can enjoy this pleasant hobby too. Many celebrities such a Jennifer Aniston, Barbra Streisand, Miley Cyrus, Chevy Chase, Reese Witherspoon and Martha Steward raise backyard chickens. So why are pet chickens so popular? Let's have a look at some of the benefits of raising backyard chickens.

Chickens are easy, inexpensive pets with benefits

- Starting with and keeping chickens is relatively inexpensive. See here for a breakdown of start up and ongoing costs.
- Meat birds (Cornish Cross) are usually processed around the age of 7 – 9 weeks. So after feeding them for only 2 months, you can stock your freezer with your own wonderful, fresh, home-grown meat.
- When you raise your own chickens, you know what went into the meat and eggs. It’s a safer and healthier alternative to factory farmed poultry and eggs.
- The meat of farm-raised chicken has significantly less fat (and fewer calories) than typical store-bought chicken.
- Backyard and free ranged hens produce eggs that are very nutritious and great tasting. Not to mention they are always fresh! Free ranged and backyard hens' eggs are also much healthier than battery hens' eggs. Here is a comparison between the nutrient content of free range vs battery eggs:

Nutrient Content - Battery EggsNutrient Content - Free Range Eggs
Vitamin A - 0.97mgVitamin A - 7.37mb
Vitamin E - 487IUVitamin E - 763IU
Beta Carotene - 10mgBeta Carotene - 76.2mg
Folate - 47mcgFolate - 0.71g
Omega 3 - 0.033mgOmega 3 - 292mg
Cholesterol - 423mgCholesterol - 231mg
Saturated Fat - 3.1
Saturated Fat - 2.31g

- Chickens make great pets for children and great 4H projects.
- They are friendly, easy to manage, low maintenance and can be kept as house pets as well.
- Chickens are a food source. Hens will provide you with wonderful fresh eggs and cockerels (and retired hens) can be processed and eaten.
- Chickens are entertaining and keeping and spending time with your feathered friends, or just "watching chicken TV", can be rewarding and at times very funny, as this member discovered.

Free range chickens are excellent, hard working gardeners

- Once you’ve harvested everything you want from your vegetable garden, your chickens will happily clear the beds, scratching out and eating unwanted weeds, slugs and seeds and fertilizing the soil while they're at it.
- Own an orchard or a few fruit trees? Chickens will devour the fallen fruit before it can attract insects.
- Chicken manure contains high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
- Chicken manure is more economically valuable than synthetic fertilizers.
- Chicken manure can be used to make fertilizer tea.
- Chickens love digging and scratching around in compost heaps and composting with chickens can be very beneficial for your compost heaps too.
- Chickens will happily take care of crickets, grass hoppers, snails and other pests in the garden.

Want even more excellent reasons to add chickens to your life?

: See what our members say herehttps://www.backyardchickens.com/t/614991/what-are-the-top-three-reasons-you-have-chickens