As a young boy we had chickens for many years. They even came encased in little plastic Easter eggs!
The chicks were actually hatched at my Grandparent’s farm from his ample stock of chickens – then stuffed inside plastic novelty eggs. Not only did my grandparents have dozens of chickens, but for a long time they even had a decent group of ducks.
Needless to say I grew up eating a lot of farm-fresh eggs and fresh BBQ chicken that was raised on the farm. They were always better than their store-bought counterparts.
So this year my wife and I decided to get some of our own chickens. This way we could have some fresh eggs, and a stock of chickens we could breed if we ever needed too. And occasionally a fresh bird for the pot.
In fact, chickens are likely one of the best animals for preppers, and the self-sufficient minded to raise.
Here are some of the benefits that come to mind:
They’re Easy to Care For
They need a little shelter, and in the winter a little extra heat. Some breeds are fairly cold hardy. Nothing that is difficult. Small structures work well because they’re small animals.
They will eat just about anything. We used to give the chickens most of our scraps and they’d eat it up. Chicken feed is inexpensive and they also eat many of your unwanted pests. They will remove insects and vermin from your yard including grasshoppers, crickets, roaches, rodents (small mice) and even ticks!
They Grow Up Fast
Waiting for your protein source to mature could mean trouble if you need protein now. Chickens grow up very quickly, most breeds are completely mature after about 6 months. Some breeds are much quicker growers.
The average hen should be ready to start laying eggs around the age of 20 weeks.
They Have Value
Chickens and their eggs can also be sold and traded when you have more than you need.
It’s a certainty that if modern currency looses it’s value then hard goods and food will significantly increase in value.
Purchasing chicks and their supplies doesn’t cost a lot. Building a chicken coop and enclosure doesn’t require fancy materials and can often be done for next to nothing. I used leftover lumber and only had to purchase the chicken wire from the hardware store.
The cost of baby chicks is also very low. Often you can order or purchase them from the local feed store for a couple of dollars a piece. If you go in with friends on a bulk order you can get even better deals.
Needless to say chickens are one of the easiest meat sources to raise.
To start our brood we decided to begin with some smaller breeds of chicken. We purchased two laying hens that are bantams. We’re not sure of the breed but they are nice and docile. Then we purchased two Japanese bantams – a male and female about 3-4 weeks old – which are prized for their tender meat, tasty eggs and very docile manner.
My wife also fell in love with two little silky bantam chicks that were recently hatched. In a couple of months we’ll have a nice variety of little bantam chickens in our little coop.
Bantam is used to describe smaller breeds of chickens. We chose bantams because they consume less feed, but still produce nutritious eggs. The eggs may be smaller but some people believe you get more egg per amount of feed consumed from bantams.
Next year I do plan on expanding my chicken-raising environment to accommodate some full-size chickens. The larger eggs and more meat provided per animal is an advantage to raising the larger breeds.
Are you raising chickens? I’d love to hear about your experiences! Or what is your favorite breed of chicken and why?