It seems you can’t go anywhere these days without hearing about raising backyard chickens; the trend is all the rage in suburban homes across the country. I started raising chickens last year and I am amazed with the life lessons our chickens Goldie, Ginger, Chubby Cheekers, and the rest of the gang have taught my children about life. If you have considered raising chickens in your backyard but are still on the fence, read on to discover the lessons my family has learned:
Chickens are really easy to take care of, as far as pets go, but having children care for the hens is an excellent way to teach kids that that animals have basic needs that must be met, and someone has to take care of them. Children can be taught to feed and water the hens and collect eggs.
Surprisingly, chickens make wonderful pets. If you raise hens from the time they are chicks, and make it a point to frequently hold them, they develop into extremely friendly and loyal pets. Our chickens eat out of our hands, come running when we call, and play games with us.
We all know that food doesn’t magically appear in the refrigerator or on the table at dinner time. Kids have a harder time grasping this concept. Raising chickens teaches children the valuable lesson of where eggs and meat come from. Raising chickens offers a wonderful opportunity to teach children where food comes from and to respect and appreciate the food they eat.
When you raise chickens in your backyard, your children get to witness Green benefits firsthand. Chickens provide unwanted plant and insect control by foraging for weeds and bugs, food disposal for table scraps, and their manure makes excellent fertilizer for your garden. Chickens are also great for show-and-tell at school, 4-H projects, and science projects.
The Bigger Picture
Learning about egg production, protecting hens in the winter cold, providing enough room in the coop so the birds are happy, slaughtering a bird who has slowed egg production, witnessing a sick chicken dying, and seeing baby birds die for no reason has sparked several conversations with my children about the reality of the world.
Children do tend to get emotionally attached to the flock, but that’s all part of the learning experience. Growing attached to animals that you intend to use for food at some point breeds a certain respect for life that cannot be learned elsewhere. Allow your children the freedom to deal with a loss in their own way and in their own time.
My kids have also learned that by taking care of the birds, they are taking care of our family. They know that the chickens are available if something were to happen and we couldn’t buy groceries for a little while or if there’s a zombie apocalypse, we would have eggs and meat to sustain us.
Have you considered adding chickens to your backyard?