Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why Backyard Chickens are Good for the Earth

The Kelly Green Giant has a fairly brownish thumb, but she knows how to raise little boys, rosemary plants, and backyard chickens.

When I found out that I was going to need a risky brain surgery early this summer, I asked my husband if we could get chickens if I made it through the surgery. Needless to say, he couldn't really say no to my poultry desires, and we have been enjoying our seven Easter Egger chickens ever since. Any day now, they should begin laying multi-colored pastel eggs. In addition to being fun, they are also good for the environment. Why?

1. Chickens can eat a lot of food scraps and food that would otherwise be wasted.

I sure don’t want to eat my son’s soggy Corn Chex soaked in almond milk – but my chickens love it! They also love food that falls on the floor, peel from fresh produce, grapes that have gone just slightly too mushy but not yet bad, and so much more. With the exception of a few things (citrus fruits, raw potato peels, avocados), chickens will eat just about any kitchen scrap you can spare.

2. Chickens make their own compost!

After chickens eat all that delicious food, they make lots of great compost. Don’t apply chicken poop directly on your garden beds, though, because it is a little too potent. Put it in your compost pile, let the compost pile work its magic for a few months, and then shovel it onto whatever garden bed needs some serious nutrient enrichment.

3. Backyard chickens create high-quality, complete protein that is about as local as it gets.

Eating local food, and especially producing your own food, is great for the environment, because it takes much less energy to transport the food from its origins to your plate. And even if you don’t have a green thumb or don’t have enough sunshine for a successful vegetable garden, you can easily produce a lot of eggs and trade with your friends and neighbors!

What are you producing in your backyard?


Alli said...

We still have a by-law against urban chickens in Halifax, NS Canada but the debate is raging and my fingers are crossed that they stomp that by-law into history! I would love to have some chickens!!

BTW: I am new to your blog and am glad that the risky surgery went well and you did get the chickens!

Deanna said...

I finally talked my husband into getting chickens almost 7 years ago and he finally had to admit they were less trouble than the average dog. Unfortunately raccoons decimated our flock this fall and I decided to wait until spring to replace them. I miss them terribly and definitely miss the eggs.

Eco Yogini said...

Like Alli said, sadly Halifax is anti-chickens, although we do have a few rebels that continue to fight! Alli has a fantastic yard for chickens!! (plus I would totally beg off some eggs from her lol).

My Tante Bernice had chickens when we were growing up, but my memories are far less pleasant than the picture typically painted about urban chickens. Perhaps it's because she a) had dozens and b) kept them in a large, usually stinky and dirty netted off pen. She eventually gave up the chickens- from what i hear they were too much work and too stinky. (really, as many of you will probably say, I think it was because she had too many and didn't keep good care of her chickens).

panamamama said...

I love my chickies!

Green Bean said...

Yay for chickens! We are going on three years with our girls. In addition to everything you mention, they are hardly any work once you get them up and running and have the learning curve absorbed. I spend 30-60 minutes a week caring for my hens. In repayment, I have the freshest, best tasting, healthiest eggs, compost for my garden (we fill their run with straw and occasionally spread it around the garden) and great garden art.

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

I wish we had chickens. The owner of our rental won't let us have furry pets, but maybe chickens! I'll have to look into it... in a few months.


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