Choosing to raise chickens is a big decision that requires a LOT of forethought and commitment of your time and attention. Some of us raise chickens for the pure joy of it, while others do so as a source of food.
Whatever your reasoning, it is super helpful to understand what the advantages and disadvantages are when it comes to being a “chickeneer.”
Let’s jump right in and explore the pros and cons of raising chickens, exploring the various things that can significantly affect your decision in starting this endeavor…or not.
Why did people start raising chickens?
You may be surprised to learn that chickens weren’t originally intended as a source of food. In 8,000 BC, Southeast Asians and Chinese began raising chickens for cockfighting. Back then, the mere notion of eating one of these birds wasn’t on the minds of those raising them.
Chickens didn’t become a part of the human diet until around 400 BC. Archeologists uncovered evidence of the first consumption of chicken and chicken eggs in Israel.
Fast-forwarding to today, we can see that chickens are raised as a food source, but also for numerous other reasons that go beyond the dinner plate.
Many of us raising chickens today see them as more than a source for eggs or meat, but more for companionship that provides us a purpose in life. Our need to nurture is met when we choose to raise and care for any animal.
The GREAT Comparison: Pros And Cons
We are going to provide you with a side-by-side comparison of great reasons to raising chickens and the downsides that come with it as well.
Chickens make wonderful pets. Although it’s not ideal to have them living in your home like dogs or cats, you can enjoy them just as much outdoors. Numerous breeds have a lot to offer in the way of friendliness. Some chickens even become lap babies allowing their owners to hold and love on them.
Chickens can’t be housebroken like other pets. Their droppings are going to be present wherever they are. Flying feathers, dander, and mites can easily get onto humans that come in direct contact.
|Insect Control |
Chickens provide the best natural means of pest control. They will eat anything that moves on the ground. For those of us with gardens, allowing our chickens to free-range around protected garden plants helps cut down the insect population that would otherwise harm the garden.
|Requires Cleanup |
Cleaning the chicken coop is perhaps the number one complaint when it comes to raising chickens. Some of us are guilty of procrastinating in cleaning the coop until it becomes a project rather than a chore. To reduce the amount of cleaning, consider the deep litter method.
|Organic Source of Eggs and Meat Selecting breeds of chickens that are good egg layers, such as Easter Eggers, provides you with a source of clean, fresh eggs. If raising broilers, you get meat that’s free from chemicals and antibiotics.||Diseases|
Treating diseases in our chickens can be costly and time-consuming. Unless we commit ourselves to fully caring for our birds, they will continue to get sick, and we will continue to fork out more money.
|Teaches Kids Responsibility |
Any pet (including chickens) is a great way to teach our kids how to care for something. The daily gathering of the eggs or feedings are things that children look forward to. Along with learning responsibility, children have the added benefit of the education that comes with raising chickens.
Unless you invest in a large capacity feeder, you will need to go out and feed the chickens daily. This can be unpleasant in the middle of a blizzard, on a frigid day, or in heavy downpours. Our chickens depend on us to supply them with fresh water daily and good quality feed.
|Ethically Raised |
We know that the eggs and meat we are eating come from chickens raised and nurtured in a humane manner. Many commercial poultry farms have horrific conditions that chickens are subjected to to provide us with eggs/meat.
|Protection From Predators |
Protecting our chickens against predators includes investing in a predator-proof coop and run. Otherwise, we are exposing them to a fate that may not end well. We have to commit ourselves to continually monitoring any openings or ways predators can get in. When raising chickens, we must take our responsibility seriously because their lives depend on it.
|Hobby Interest |
Once you get into raising chickens, you will most likely find yourself diving deep into learning about other breeds. Before you know it, you’ll be shopping for one of those breeds to add an element of life to your existing flock.
Chicken feed invariably attracts rodents. Behind the rodents come snakes and other predators that feed on rodents (and chickens.)
|Compost and Fertilizer |
Chicken droppings make valuable fertilizer, especially when mixed in with compost. Nutrient-dense compost is useful for gardens, landscaping, and crops.
|Urban Areas May Require Permission/Permit |
When raising backyard chickens in the city, we have to be sure that the city allows us to have them. We may have to obtain permission from our neighbors and a permit from the zoning/planning department. Otherwise, failure to do so can result in fines and the removal of our chickens.
|Money-Making Opportunities |
If you have surplus eggs, you can sell them for some extra cash. Many chicken owners with heavy laying chickens (Easter Eggers, Rhode Island Reds, Leghorns, etc.) may even find that the more chickens you have, the more eggs you can sell, which turns into a small business venture!
As much as most of us enjoy hearing the rooster crowing at the crack of dawn, our neighbors may not. Napping babies during the day are easily woken up as well. Chickens like to squawk and are not quiet creatures.
|Hatching Your Own Chicks |
There’s nothing more rewarding in raising chickens than to be able to hatch your own baby chicks. Watching them grow up to adult chickens is educational and just plain ole fun.
|Difficult To Leave To Go On Vacation |
We can’t go on a vacation or trip unless we first find someone to care for our chickens. Some pet sitting agencies have chicken sitters, but it’s going to cost you.
The Last “Cluck”
So now you have the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of raising chickens. As you can see, the cons really don’t outweigh the pros. Raising chickens is a personal decision, and it does require a sincere interest to undertake.
Of course we’re biased. We’ve been raising chickens for over 15 years and have found the added work to be a lot of fun. But we wanted to provide an overview of the pitfalls of raising chickens as well.
Many well intentioned people have gone into raising chickens only to find out it wasn’t what they thought it would be and get soured by the whole experience. We wanted to provide you with a balanced overview so you can make an informed decision.
If after reading this article you DO decide to raise chickens, check out our site for FREE plans to build your coop or to buy a quality new one. If you’re wondering what it takes to raise chickens and build or buy a coop, check out our video below!