Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Case for Chickens

I have always wanted to have chickens. The benefits are great. They make great pets, their eggs are healthier than factory eggs, and it's a way to save chickens. I know, it's just a chicken right? Click on the link to find out more (warning this is graphic): Animal Abuse at Iowa Egg Factories. In Sweden and Switzerland it is now against the law to produce factory eggs. Their chickens are free range chickens. Most organic eggs are from free range chickens.

I just can't look at store bought eggs the same. Every time I empty those eggs out of the carton and place them in my fridge I think about it. I first heard about the mistreatment of chickens from Jamie Oliver's book. I knew a neighbor that had chickens and really loved them and another contemplating getting some once zoning was redone. I looked further into it during this time. The benefit of chickens are fantastic.

Did you know that free-range chickens' eggs have:

• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta-carotene

I have also heard that home grown eggs also taste a lot better. The hen is not only healthier, but it's diet is varied. The caged chicken eats grain (usually corn) only. The free range hen eats insects and plants in addition to grain.

Other benefits of having chickens are:
  • They eat insects
  • They make fantastic pets
  • They are easy to take care of
Just this morning I looked at the window and my chickens were in the garden devouring insects. Remember my squash bug incident last summer? I didn't know how to get rid of them organically. Well, I think this will solve my problem. From what I hear, it is true that chickens try to eat some of the produce from the garden, but in comparison to the bugs in the garden that are bad for my plants it's minor. I've also seen them scouring the edges of the foundation of the house eating bugs. They even like ants.

Composted chicken manure is some of the best fertilizer out there. It is true that they sometimes poop on the cement, but a quick squirt of the hose takes care of that problem. Each time I clean out the pine shavings and poop from their box I just throw the shavings and poop in my garden or compost pile. They also fertilize the lawn and take care of weed seeds. I check their food and water daily, but they are very good pets and just wander the yard or take a nap under a bush. They are very low maintenance. Chickens also get along with cats. Our cat likes to chase them from time to time, but they can hold their own if a cat comes at them.

On Mother's Day, my husband and daughter surprised me with a trip to our local farm store to pick out five little beauties. They are more of a teenage chicken right now, but I love to go out and hold one or two and just watch them run around the yard. It is true that I'm a crazy chicken lady now. However, come August or September when I'm collecting and eating those eggs, and when I watch my cute chickens run around I can be proud that not only are they living a healthier life than the factory chickens, but I am too. I might not have saved the "chicken world", but I feel better about my cute little hens, and it makes me happy.

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