Can chickens save the world? Well, they can certainly help! When we first entered the world of farm animals, we were all about chickens. We lived in the heart of a city with a tiny backyard, but we knew we wanted to make it work! So we checked our local laws and city ordinances to see how many we could own and started building our first coop. Those original ladies moved with us three years later to Port Bolivar, TX, where they could enjoy a free roam experience for the first time!
We learned a whole lot from our city ladies. There are so many benefits that come along with raising chickens. For most people, the first thing that comes to mind, especially in this economy, is having a steady supply of fresh eggs. But as we lived with them, we realized that they are kinda superheroes! Keeping chickens is a great way to connect with nature and learn about animal husbandry, but did you know they can also benefit the environment in various ways?
Backyard chickens cut back on food waste that ends up in landfills.
So first off, why is food waste causing issues in landfills? Well, when food waste decomposes in a landfill, it releases methane. In the U.S. alone, each person throws away approximately 300 pounds of food waste annually. It is estimated that every pound of food thrown away results in 3.8 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the United Nations, those decomposing materials account for 20% of methane gasses released globally!
But there’s good news- chickens can make a huge difference in the amount of waste that goes into our landfills! A flock of four backyard chickens is expected to consume approximately 332.8 pounds of household food scraps per year, about as much as the average food wasted by each person in the U.S. annually.
So instead of your food waste rotting in a landfill, releasing methane gas, chickens turn that waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer for gardening and eggs for your family. Backyard chickens can make such a difference; some cities are creating initiatives for people to raise their own flocks. For example, starting in 2017, Austin, TX, passed an ordinance that provided free classes on chicken care and paid citizens to raise chickens.
Chickens create “black gold.”
No, I’m not talking about oil. Chickens help create the best soil – so good that farmers often refer to it as black gold! Composted chicken manure provides a slow-release source of macro and micronutrients and acts as a soil amendment.
Compared to other manures, chicken manure is higher in nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium, which, once safely composted, leads to a great addition to your soil. Chicken manure, when composted with wood shavings from your coop, plus any bits of excess plant life you have lying around, like grass clippings, fallen leaves, and even egg shells, creates an excellent fertilizer.
So how does this tie into chickens saving the world? This keeps you from using synthetic fertilizers that can damage the environment via toxic runoff from garden beds into waterways that eventually make their way into our water tables and oceans.
Chickens are natural pest control.
Chickens eat all kinds of pests! They eat grasshoppers, slugs, snails, and beetles, so they don’t eat your garden. Of course, that is all great, especially if you are a gardener, but my favorite creatures that chickens help manage? Mosquitoes! Living next to a marsh, our flock has saved us more than once from a few bites. This is a great way to naturally control the pests in your yard and avoid or lessen the need for chemical bug spray around your home or garden.
Chickens can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
Raising chickens can help reduce your anxiety and depression. Studies show that chickens are empathetic creatures. They can sense emotions like grief and anxiety and have been shown to respond accordingly to create a calmer and more peaceful environment for the human companion. Universities, hospitals, and mental health facilities have even begun using chickens as therapy animals.
The first time I fully realized this was with our beloved Karen. She was one of our first chickens and sadly has passed over the rainbow bridge. Karen understood us on a level that I didn’t think possible. I still remember the first time I had a rough day and sat down on my porch to cry…and there she was. She sat beside me and just shared the space with me. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like she knew I just needed someone to be there. From that moment on, Karen was family.
In case you can’t tell…we love chickens! Not only for how they help the environment and continue a beautiful circle of life and sustainability – but they are also kind and gentle souls that seem to understand better than most why they are on this planet. We are getting in three new breeds of chickens for the opening, and we look forward to sharing them all with you so you can see and experience the joy of chickens firsthand.
See you at M.O.M.S!