Chickens, food security and the rising cost of living
If you’re worried about food security, chickens might be part of the answer.
The rising cost of living has many Australians worried. And while it isn’t for everyone, chickens can help reduce food costs. If you have a backyard and council regulations allow it, chickens are a great way to reduce the cost of living and increase food security.
No matter what else, if you have chickens, you have food.
Are food shortages really a threat?
If you had asked 3 years ago whether food shortages were a threat, most Australians would have said ‘No’. A lot has changed.
Whether due to bushfires, flooding or COVID-related supply and staff shortages, supermarket shelves bare of essentials have become a common sight. Even now, when nothing of note is happening in my region, our local store still has understocked shelves and missing items.
But even when there is food, what about access?
Australia’s cost of living crisis
Food shortages aren’t the only threat that Australians are facing.
Many Australians are worried about the rising cost of living. Wage growth in many industries is not keeping pace with inflation. On top of that, global oil prices and the war in Ukraine are also driving up the cost of staple foods. And now interest rates are on the rise.
Food affordability is a big issue and is affecting more and more people. I don’t know a single family that isn’t feeling the pinch. Increasingly tight budgets and rising food prices mean that expensive items, like eggs and meat, are becoming more of a luxury.
How can chickens help with the cost of living and food security?
The more locally food is produced, the more secure our food supply is. And it doesn’t get more local than your own backyard!
A package of lettuce seeds costs $3-5 and grows up to 1000 heads of lettuce. Compare that to the astronomical cost of iceberg lettuce!
Eggs, and particularly free-range eggs, are getting more expensive too. And free-range chicken meat costs up to $30 per bird!
The simple fact is, if you are worried about affordability and food security, the best thing you can do is produce your own food.
If you have chickens, you have food
If you have chickens, you have food. It’s a simple fact. And you have protein, which is much more difficult to produce on a home scale than vegetables!
And we don’t mean processing your own chickens for meat. Not many chicken keepers are up for that, although it is reassuring to know that if you really needed to, you could.
Eggs are one of the most complete sources of protein available. They are healthy and form part of a staple diet for most Australians. Add a few greens from the garden, and eggs are a meal on their own!
Add a rooster and you have a self-replacing flock, which means eggs forever!
Other cost of living benefits from chickens
Chickens provide other benefits to help reduce the cost of living too!
Save money on fertiliser:
Fertiliser costs are sky-rocketing. Fortunately, chicken poo makes wonderful fertiliser once it has been composted. Some gardeners call it black gold! And it is completely free, reducing the cost of your veggie patch. It will help make you garden more productive, too!
Make the garden cheaper and more efficient:
Chickens can also be used to make gardening cheaper and more efficient.
In a good garden, you have to fight weeds and pests. Herbicides and pesticides are expensive, and many gardeners don't want to use these on their food plants. Chickens can help!
While they will eat your veggies, confining chickens to a garden bed before you plant or after harvesting your veggies is a great system. The chickens will till and prepare the soil, kill weeds, eat weed seeds and pests, and fertilise the soil.
All this means less work for you, and more productive, cheaper garden!
Recycle food waste:
Wasting food is just like throwing money away. Reducing your food waste saves the most money. But a little food waste is impossible to avoid, so save money by recycling it into eggs and fertiliser.
Chickens shouldn’t eat too many scraps, so reducing your food waste is important. But small amounts of food scraps, fed in a healthy way, are ok. Feeding them to your chooks turns them into valuable eggs and fertiliser, saving money and reducing waste.
Want to learn more?
- The dos and don'ts of feeding scraps to chickens
- Using chicken manure in the garden
- Victory Gardens and chickens
- The economics of chicken keeping
Happy chicken keeping!
Rachael at Dine a Chook Australia