Backyard chickens have exploded in popularity. They can provide your family with a delicious source of protein from their eggs and/or meat. They can also provide a life lesson for your children in the care and keeping of a flock, their poop can enrich barren soil and, due to their intricate social network, you can enjoy hours of stress free observation of their scratching and pecking.
This article from Off The Grid News describes how even first time chicken owners can ponder making a little extra money with their feathered friends:
“Your egg layers and your meat birds can earn you money as well if you have a large enough flock to support that effort. Two to four birds will provide enough eggs each week for your family and probably have enough left over to give away to friends. However, if you have a large enough flock and raise your chickens properly, during the summer months you can make a tidy profit at the farmer’s market or selling to your neighbors.”
The article covers many topics: permitting, shelter, breed types, production schedules and predators. Yes, chickens are prey to raccoons, hawks, dogs, cats and coyotes, so defending your birds is paramount.
While many of the questions for first time chicken owners are answered, it doesn’t cover a couple of key points. Make sure you purchase non-GMO food for your flock. Just like humans, the chicken’s digestive system is susceptible to a wide variety of illnesses. Veterinarians who care for your cat or dog may not have the expertise needed, so prepare to gain some medical knowledge to keep your birds healthy.
Another key point not covered in the article was the attachment issue. You and your children can become connected to a particular bird, especially if they decide to jump up in your laps and snuggle under your arm.
So if you are raising birds for meat, don’t make them your friends. It’s just easier that way.