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Why in the world would raising chickens during a pandemic be good for you? For anyone?

 

In the past several years, there has been a lot of research on raising chickens and the benefits of having a small backyard flock. And for people who are interested in having a sustainable food source, raising chickens seems to be the way to go. From having fresh eggs (that are healthier than grocery store eggs) to providing stress relief and companionship, chicken ownership is something that has blossomed during the pandemic (or shall we say – the New Now). Many people are spending more time at home and doing things (such as gardening) and finding ways to live “off the land” so to speak. Raising chickens fits nicely into this scenario since they do not necessarily take a lot of extra time to care for and can quickly become part of a wholesome daily routine.

 

Is it expensive to own and raise chickens? Well, that depends. Chicks themselves are relatively inexpensive. All you need is a warm and safe place to raise them for their first 6 weeks of life, along with some food and water, and then they are ready to move to their outside coop. If you are handy and can swing a hammer, you can probably build your own coop yourself. Next, make sure it is secure from predators (hardware cloth – no chicken wire) and give them a safe area to run around in (a chicken run or maybe you have a set up where they can free-range) and you are set! Yes, you still need to provide some grain and freshwater, but they will happily take care of pesky insects and in roughly 6 months will be giving you fresh eggs almost daily. Some families also process their birds (yes – think dinner and soups) when they feel their best laying days are behind them. Yet many people treat their chickens as family members/pets and allow them to finish out their days as insect eaters even though they might only lay an egg every few weeks.

 

What if I can’t build my own coop? Well, here is where the price of owning chickens can go up (and up and up). While there are many inexpensive coops you can purchase online or at a store, many of these are not suited for more than 2 or 3 chickens due to their small size. And many are not very durable which means predators are a risk (and nothing ruins a good morning like going to see your chickens and finding only feathers left…..or even worse, “part of your chicken”). You can many times purchase a cheap coop and then reinforce it to make it safe, or you can find someone that can build you a coop. At the Bizzy Barnyard, we have tried many types of coops and have had some successes and failures. Our favorite by far and away is a builder located in San Tan Valley, AZ – SanTanValley Coops. They can customize any coop and their prices are very affordable. And yes, they deliver to Southern California as well! Another variable cost with chickens is whether or not you buy chicks or coop ready (old enough to be in the coop without a heat lamp) pullets or even laying hens. Chicks are cheap (at least certain common breeds) while pullets or hens can be up to 10 times the cost. But, for people that don’t want to deal with the “baby chick” days or get eggs sooner, it can be worth it to pay more.

 

Are there any other reasons to raise chickens? I asked my kids what they loved (and didn’t love) about raising our chickens. The positives were around the funny stories and entertainment that chickens give daily. Not to mention most of my kids love breakfast burritos and egg sandwiches and they know exactly who is providing these glorious eggs! Unanimously, they disliked doing chores – no surprises there. But as a parent, I like that they have learned the responsibility of caring for another life and experiencing the work that goes into caring for something (or someone else). And also the education that goes into learning about chickens, composting, and even the joy and sorrow of the circle of life.

 

At the Bizzy Barnyard, not only do we provide families with healthy and happy chicks and chickens, but we try to help people find the best fit for what they want for their flock. Whether they want the best egg layers, or the sweetest chicks for kids, or even dual-purpose birds (eggs and meat), we will share our knowledge to best partner with everyone from new owners to the most experienced flock owners.

Chickens in a Pandemic? Cluck yes!

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