Keeping chickens provides more than fresh eggs. Chickens help control insects and provide concentrated manure to nourish gardens. Your local ordinance may even allow you to keep your feathered friends in the city and suburbs.
Last summer, family friends of ours got a flock of chickens and a beautiful coop. Was I jealous much? Oh yes! I used to have chickens when I lived on a farm, and they were such lovely, and surprisingly intelligent pets to have around. Chickens may be a great addition for your family, even if you live in the city or suburbs (first check your local ordinances on keeping fowl).
Benefits of Having Chickens
The most obvious benefit of keeping chickens is the delicious fresh eggs that hens produce, which really are more flavorful and delicious than store-bought eggs. Chickens also eat loads of insects, including mosquitoes, Japanese beetles and ticks. Ticks, and the Lyme disease that they can carry, are becoming more prevalent in southwest Michigan. Even pets, such as dogs and cats, can contract Lyme disease. Veterinary clinics are now encouraging vaccination against Lyme disease for dogs. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against the disease for humans. Chickens are one way to reduce the tick population on your property. And because what goes in invariably comes out, chickens produce fertilizer that you use in your garden, after composting the poo.
When I had chickens, during the summer the flock would follow me around as I inspected tomato plants for hornworms; those big, juicy green worms that feast on tomato plants. (Even as a biologist, tomato hornworms kind of gross me out.) I would pluck the worms off my tomatoes, toss them to the flock, and watch the chickens scrabble to get the prize; a very environmentally friendly means of pest control.
Where Can You Get Chickens?
Although you can order chicks online (really!), if you are interested in keeping chickens, local feed stores, such as Oak Ridge Feed, on Stadium Dr. in Kalamazoo, have expertise, and can provide you with valuable advice, as well as poultry supplies, and a selection of chicks every spring.
Do you have any chicken stories, advice or questions? Please comment!
By Tami Guy, MS, CPPS, founder of Creatures Pet Care of Kalamazoo.