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Six Unexpected Benefits of Having Chickens

Six Unexpected Benefits of Having Chickens

The Benefits of Keeping Backyard Chickens

Backyard chickens are more than just a source of fresh eggs. They contribute significantly to sustainable living and offer numerous benefits for physical, mental, and environmental health. Here’s a detailed exploration of why keeping chickens can be a rewarding addition to your life.

Fresh, Home-Grown Eggs

One of the primary reasons people keep backyard chickens is for fresh, home-grown eggs. These eggs are often richer in nutrients compared to store-bought ones. Studies have shown that eggs from free-range chickens contain less cholesterol and saturated fat, and higher levels of vitamins A and E, omega-3 fatty acids, and beta carotene. Fresh eggs also taste better and provide peace of mind, knowing they come from happy, healthy hens.

Natural Fertiliser

Chicken manure, also known as "black gold," is an excellent natural fertiliser. It’s rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, essential nutrients that enhance soil quality and promote healthy plant growth. When composted properly, chicken manure can significantly improve the fertility of your garden, making it an eco-friendly alternative to chemical fertilisers.

Pest Control

Chickens are natural pest controllers. They love to forage for insects, slugs, and weeds, helping to keep your garden healthy and free from pests. This reduces the need for chemical pesticides, contributing to a more organic and sustainable gardening practice. Chickens' constant scratching and pecking help aerate the soil, further benefiting your plants.

Waste Reduction

Chickens are excellent at recycling kitchen and garden waste. They consume food scraps that would otherwise end up in the landfill, turning waste into valuable resources like eggs and fertiliser. This reduces your household waste and contributes to a more sustainable lifestyle. Chickens can eat a variety of food scraps, including vegetable peels, fruit, bread, and even leftover grains.

Building Community and Social Relationships

Keeping chickens can help build stronger social connections and community bonds. Sharing eggs with neighbours, exchanging tips on chicken care, and helping each other with chicken-related tasks fosters a sense of camaraderie. Chickens can also be a conversation starter, bringing people together and creating a supportive network of fellow chicken keepers.

Physical Health Benefits

Caring for chickens involves regular physical activity, such as feeding, cleaning the coop, and collecting eggs. This daily routine helps chicken keepers stay active, contributing to better physical health. The physical activity involved in chicken keeping can help maintain a healthy weight, improve cardiovascular health, and provide a form of low-impact exercise.

Mental Health Benefits

Interacting with chickens can have significant mental health benefits. Chickens have unique personalities and can be quite entertaining, providing joy and reducing stress. The routine of caring for chickens offers a sense of purpose and responsibility, which can be particularly beneficial for mental well-being. Studies have shown that pet ownership, including chickens, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

Educational Opportunities

Raising chickens offers valuable educational opportunities for children and adults alike. It teaches responsibility, empathy, and a better understanding of where food comes from. Children can learn about biology, ecology, and the importance of sustainable living. Many schools incorporate chickens into their educational programs, helping students develop a hands-on understanding of nature and agriculture.

Therapeutic Benefits

Chickens are increasingly used as therapy animals. They provide companionship and a sense of calm, which can be therapeutic for individuals with conditions such as ASD, ADHD, and mental health issues. Programs like HenPower in aged-care facilities involve residents in chicken care, leading to improved health, decreased depression, and enhanced social relationships. The act of caring for chickens gives individuals a sense of purpose and routine, which is particularly beneficial for mental health.

Common Questions About Keeping Chickens

Is it good for chickens to be in the garden?

Yes, chickens can be very beneficial in the garden. They help eliminate scraps, produce natural fertiliser, get rid of pesky garden pests, assist with composting, and provide fresh, free-range eggs. However, they should be supervised to prevent them from eating beneficial plants and insects.

Are backyard chickens good for the environment?

Absolutely. Backyard chickens help reduce food waste by eating kitchen scraps, lower carbon emissions associated with commercial egg production, and decrease the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers in gardens. By reducing reliance on commercially produced eggs, chicken keepers contribute to a decrease in the environmental impact of large-scale poultry farming.

What do chickens do to your backyard?

Chickens can improve soil quality through their manure, control weeds, and manage pests. However, they can also cause some damage if not managed properly, such as eating plants and creating bare patches in the lawn. Proper management and supervision can mitigate these issues and enhance the positive impact on the backyard.

What are the pros and cons of raising chickens?

Pros include fresh eggs, pest control, waste reduction, and the joy of having pets. Cons can include the need for daily care, potential noise, and the initial cost of setting up a coop. Additionally, chickens can attract predators and require protection, and their coops need regular cleaning to maintain hygiene and prevent odours.

Do chickens improve soil quality?

Yes, chicken manure is an excellent fertiliser rich in nitrogen and other nutrients, which can significantly improve soil quality and plant growth. Properly composted chicken manure can be a valuable addition to the garden, enhancing the fertility of the soil and promoting healthy plant growth.

Are eggs from backyard chickens healthier?

Eggs from backyard chickens are often fresher and can contain higher levels of certain nutrients compared to store-bought eggs. They are also free from the antibiotics and hormones often used in commercial egg production. Studies suggest that backyard eggs may have better nutritional profiles, including higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and E, and beta carotene.

Additional Benefits of Raising Backyard Chickens

  • Sustainable Agriculture: Raising chickens for eggs and meat is a sustainable agricultural practice. Backyard chickens can be fed with kitchen scraps, vegetable waste, and garden produce, which reduces food waste and promotes sustainable agriculture. Additionally, raising chickens in the backyard can help reduce carbon emissions associated with commercial egg production and transportation.
  • Educational and Fun: Raising chickens can be an educational and enjoyable experience for the whole family. Children can learn about animal husbandry, biology, and the basics of sustainable agriculture. They can also develop important life skills such as responsibility and empathy. Many families find that raising chickens is a fun and rewarding hobby that brings the family together.
  • Fresh Meat: In addition to providing fresh eggs, raising chickens also provides a source of fresh meat. Chickens can be raised for meat, and their meat is an excellent source of protein. Backyard-raised chicken meat is typically leaner and more flavourful than store-bought chicken, and it is often free from antibiotics and hormones.
  • Cost-Effective: Raising chickens for eggs and meat can also be cost-effective. While there are some initial expenses involved in setting up a backyard chicken coop, once the coop is established, the cost of raising chickens is relatively low. Backyard chickens can be fed with kitchen scraps, which reduces the cost of feed. Additionally, raising chickens for eggs and meat can save families money on groceries.
  • Improved Garden Soil: Another benefit of raising chickens is that their manure can be used as fertiliser for the garden. Chicken manure is high in nitrogen and other essential nutrients, which makes it an excellent natural fertiliser. Applying chicken manure to the garden can help improve soil quality, increase plant growth, and promote a healthy garden.
  • Waste Reduction: Chickens help reduce household waste by consuming kitchen scraps that would otherwise go to the landfill. This reduces the overall volume of waste and contributes to a more sustainable lifestyle. By turning food waste into eggs and manure, chickens play a crucial role in the recycling of nutrients within the household ecosystem.
  • Weed and Pest Control: Chickens are natural pest controllers. They love to forage for insects, slugs, and weeds, helping to keep the garden healthy. Their constant scratching and pecking help to aerate the soil and control unwanted pests without the need for chemical pesticides.
  • Lower Environmental Impact: Keeping chickens in the backyard reduces the reliance on commercially produced eggs, which are often associated with high environmental costs. Commercial egg production involves significant carbon emissions from transportation, packaging, and refrigeration. By raising chickens at home, you reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable environment.
  • Stress Relief and Entertainment: Watching chickens forage and interact can be a great source of relaxation and entertainment. Their quirky behaviours and playful antics can provide hours of amusement and stress relief. Many people find that spending time with their chickens is a great way to unwind and connect with nature.
  • Companion Animals: Chickens can be wonderful companion animals. They are social creatures that enjoy interacting with their human caretakers. Many chicken keepers form strong bonds with their birds, finding joy and comfort in their companionship. Chickens’ gentle clucking and curious nature can be soothing and uplifting, making them delightful pets.


Raising backyard chickens offers a multitude of benefits, from providing fresh, nutritious eggs to enhancing physical and mental well-being. Chickens contribute to sustainable living by reducing waste, controlling pests, and improving soil quality. They foster a sense of community and provide educational opportunities for children and adults alike. Whether you’re looking to save money, live more sustainably, or simply enjoy the companionship of these charming birds, keeping backyard chickens can be a highly rewarding experience.

By incorporating chickens into your backyard, you can enjoy the many advantages they bring while promoting a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle. Happy chicken keeping!