Monday, February 3, 2014

The Green Chicken | Advantages of Backyard Chickens

Hopefully, you enjoyed reading about Goose and Henny-Penny in their last appearance at Pawsitively Pets because they are back again! These two ladies and their mom, Linda from Happy Healthy Dog Blog, are taking over this blog once a month to share some fun chicken stories and information with us. Special thanks to them for sharing today's post. Enjoy! 

The Advantages of Backyard Chickens
Goose and Henny-Penny.

The following post was written by Linda from Happy Healthy Dog Blog

It’s moving day again for Goose and Henny-Penny, my backyard chickens.  They live in a mobile coop which their slave (me!) moves every couple of days.  Moving it (and its add-on extension wire mesh “tunnel” that I made to give them more space) is relatively simple and doesn’t really take long at all.  Except that it does!  As with most things involving the chickens, even the simplest things end up being entertaining.

The first few times I moved the coop it scared them a little, having their safe little house suddenly start moving.  But their natural curiosity soon got the better of them and now as I’m moving it they’re pouncing on the new grass, weeds and insects as they appear.

This morning’s move landed them on a particularly weedy patch of lawn.  Once I’d reattached their added-on “tunnel” and opened the coop door to let them into it – they exploded out of the door like two champagne corks!  They immediately started devouring one patch of weeds, and then there was a problem – they had spotted another patch of different weeds!  They dashed over there to try some of those.  And so it went for quite a while, each different weed just had to be sampled.  How could I tear myself away from such antics?!

This behaviour has lots of  “green” benefits (apart from entertainment value)  It certainly makes the chickens happy and provides a variety of foods for them including leaves, flowers and seed.  All of which are full of nutrients a chicken needs.  Another equally important benefit is that they’re ridding the garden of weeds without me having to use harmful herbicides or spend time digging them up.

These weeds, once digested by Goose and Henny Penny are then turned into beautiful, healthy eggs!  In fact the more greens a hen eats, the higher the Omega 3 content of the egg.  An absolutely perfect organic cycle.

Fresh eggs laid by backyard chickens
Fresh eggs laid by Goose and Henny-Penny. 

It doesn’t end there either.  Another by-product is, of course, chicken manure which very quickly turns into great compost.  The chickens scratch in the now bare patches loosening the soil, catching and eating insects and spreading the compost.

When I move them to the next spot, the grass starts growing into these previously ugly weedy patches.  So my chickens are actually helping me to grow a beautiful lush green lawn!  With not a chemical in sight.  And all it costs me is very little effort to move them, and a handful of chicken food a day.  I certainly think they’ve earned that!

The one gardening drawback of not being able to let them completely free range is that they can only eat the insects that are unlucky enough to jump into their coop.  I have found a way to overcome this to some extent.  Any worms, beetles or other critters I find while gardening that are big enough to catch, I put in a bucket and take to the chickens.  They think this is a great treat of course, while I see it as working for their upkeep!

The most special of these treats is snails!  As we’ve been having lots of rain and mist there are plenty of them.  Early in the morning I go snail hunting in the veggie patch and happily feed these delectable treats to the hens.  Unfortunately this is not one of the more entertaining chicken activities to watch!  Goose, probably because she’s so big (and has shocking table manners), usually swallows most of them whole.  Henny-Penny is a little more refined and pecks them into smaller pieces.

Either way, as someone who doesn’t eat snails and curses the devastation they cause to the veggies, I am most grateful that my girls can turn these pests into delicious eggs!

What could possibly be a more “green” (and enjoyable) method of gardening?

About the Author: Linda has written on and off for various dog publications for several years. She has also been involved in many aspect of dog care.  Now, she's decided to combine her love and experience of dogs (and all things animal), her limited veterinary nursing experience and her writing into becoming a full time pet blogger at Happy Healthy Dog Blog.

17 comments:

  1. Great post and it makes us sad that we don't have room for chucks over here. Worse we have to buy manure pellets for the garden. We dream of a big garden. Have a marvellous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

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  2. It sounds as though they're fun to watch! And it's nice to know they're having a good life.

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  3. This was so informative and interesting! I never knew anything about chickens like this. Goose and Henny-Penny sure do contribute to having a beautiful lawn and they lay eggs. Linda takes great care of them.

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    1. Chickens make nice pets :) They are good for lots of things!

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  4. Haha! I love chickens!!! And yes! How very green! Lol
    Hope u had a great weekend!
    ((Husky hugz)) frum da pack at Love is being owned by a husky

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  5. Great post! I will read it to my two chicken in the back yard. They sadly lay no eggs, because they are very, very old, but they have always a home and a warm nest in my backyard.

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    1. Do you really have chickens? I didn't know! Now I want to see their picture!

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  6. We think chickens are cool and they sure got used to moving!

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  7. We never knew a lot of that stuff about chickens. Thanks for sharing, Linda!

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  8. Thanks for these posts! My baby chicks are set to arrive a week from today, so I find them very helpful!

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    1. Oh you are going to have to share some photos! How cute! Glad these are helpful to you Rebekah.

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  9. I considered getting chickens briefly. We had some serious problems with insects this past summer that having chickens in our yard seemed like a fantastic idea. But alas, my dog Pierson is way too prey-driven. Even with the chickens safely enclosed, Pierson would take forever to go potty because he'd be too busy eyeing the chickens.

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    1. Yea, I wonder how Shiner would do with chickens too now that you mention it. We have so many bugs here in the summer, I hate it!

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  10. Our mom's human sister (over in Killeen) has several of these. She named them after candy bars. You shoulda seen our dad's expression when she said "Here! Wanna hold Butterfinger?" and shoved the chicken into his arms. We were surprised how very long fresh eggs last, just out on her countertop!

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    1. You know, I saw something on TV once about how to preserve chicken eggs... they just coated the eggs in mineral oil or something and didn't refrigerate them and they could stay out for a very long time!

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  11. I know chickens would benefit my weedy yard. Just not the right timing.

    I'm so glad to hear Linda's chickens are in a chicken tractor. My neighbors had some behind a picket fence and they kept wandering across the road. I don't know why you would have an animal if you're not going to at least try to keep it safe.

    I suspect that the chickens that weren't hit by cars were probably killed by local cats.

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