At a glance, the economics seem simple: Why raise chickens when it could cost $5 or more per dozen (or more) to build the accommodations and keep them fed while commercial eggs are $2/dz. and a quick trip to the store?
Well, it depends on your perspective, where you live, and what you value.
Just don’t stop at the value of the egg when you’re doing the math to figure out whether or not it’s worthwhile.
Depending on how you go about it, you can spend quite a bit of time and energy building a coop, fence and worrying about keeping predators out. Then there’s collecting the eggs, feeding and watering, etc.
Some chicken owners do less, and the birds simply become part of the landscape, while others invite em’ to sleep in their bed at night. That’s not recommended, but it happens.
If you have no time for such things, then for you not only is having chickens or other animals an inconvenience, it could mean rearranging your life, questioning your way of doing things in order to discover the underlying benefits. In an age of dissatisfaction with status quo, is that such a bad thing?
These benefits, once you get past the drawbacks, can be both deep and profound, whether as an urban homesteader, farmer, or hunter/gatherer.
There is yet an underlying process of awakening to the thing we call “homesteading” that must be endured in order to fully appreciate how and why it is important for you, your community, and the world.
If you start to farm, homestead or raise animals, you’re in for a multi-faceted experience, perhaps a little self-questioning, unless you approach it with a particular mind-set. Expect to set your life up around things you are cultivating, raising, developing, and expect their fruition to unfold at a pace out of your control, yet fully predictable. The rest is up to you.
Benefits of raising chickens (some which most people don’t think about):
- The egg
- The meat
- The fertilizer/manure
- The chicken byproducts (feather, bone, offal)
- The reduction of scraps in the garbage/landfills
- The aeration of soils & compost
- The increased capacity of composting
- The pest control
- The peace of mind of having even if stores run out of eggs/meat
- The leverage to sell/trade to neighbors for goods/cash
- The strength/knowledge from building the coop and/or fencing
- The sense of observation built by caring for the living
- The responsibility that comes with commitment
- The connection to reality – controlling life and death cycle
- The entertainment, laughs and conversation starters
- The endless supply of photos you could post online
- Satisfaction knowing what’s going into your food
Here’s a good post on getting started:
Here’s Joel Salatin with some particulars on farming and birds.