Hens are great for laying eggs for your morning omelets, but what else can they do? Surprisingly, there is a lot of work chickens can do to help out your homestead.
From helping in the garden to clearing the yard of ticks and fleas, chickens are one of the best homestead helpers you can get. They’re expert garden tillers, pest control managers, compost makers, garbage disposers, all-natural fertilizers, and much, much more!
Just one more reason chickens are pretty awesome! (But you knew that already.)
Your hens are already a valuable asset to your homestead, but that’s no reason not to maximize their potential earning power. So why not find ways to put your hens to work helping you on your homestead? They love doing it and it makes your life easier. A busy hen is a happy hen! Not to mention it’s a fantastic way to save money on chicken feed! Now that’s what I call a win-win-WIN situation!
Here are five ways chickens can help on the homestead:
Bugs and insects of all kinds inhabit your farm every year. Instead of spraying chemicals, chickens are a great way to get rid of these pesky varmints.
Pen them in a chicken tractor or enclosure around the area or areas of your yard affected by pests. The chickens will happily eat away until all the bugs are gone in that area, even turning up six inches of soil to find grubs.
They are also helpful if you have an orchard. Those little ladies will wipe out a group of worms laying eggs in the springtime. Turn them out again in the fall, and they will clean up the fallen fruit where insects hide through the winter.
It is so much cheaper and healthier to have these fine feathered fowl on your homestead or farm.
Prepping your garden requires tilling, pulling weeds, spreading compost, etc. How can a chicken help you with that process?
I’m glad you asked.
Once again, pen your chickens into your garden area before planting. Allowing the hens to scratch and eat all the weed seeds helps with both tilling and weeds.
Then put a pile of compost into the garden, and watch those ladies go to work. They will fluff and fuss, scratch, and scrape that compost into your soil like a master tiller.
However, tilling and spreading are not the only benefits of chickens in a garden, they will be happy to help eat the bugs, and their poop is full of rich nitrogen that is important for the soil content.
According to Ohio State University, one chicken produces eight pounds of poop a month, which can be enough fertilizer for a 50 square foot garden. Yep, they are wonderful in so many ways!
Let’s face it, composting takes work.
I often don my gloves and brace myself when I go to turn my pile. The bugs fly in my face, and it seems like it takes turning and turning and turning, well you get my point.
Letting chickens into your composting pile is a win-win. Not only do they scratch and help break down the pile, but they find fruit flies delectable along with other flying insects that are attached to your compost pile.
The little beauties also leave a deposit of nitrogen behind that enriches your compost. I guess that makes it a win-win-win!
It’s true! Chickens are omnivores, and you can reduce your chicken feed costs by taking your food scraps and feeding them to the chickens. They love the variety, and it helps in egg production.
You will want to remember the feed rule of 90/10, though. Your flock’s main feed needs to equal 90% of the chicken’s menu in a day, and any other foods can make up the additional 10%.
For a list of safe foods that you can give your flock read: What Can Chickens Eat? 100 Foods to Fill Those Beaks.
Meat and Eggs
I’m sure this is actually at the top of the list of why most flock owners have chickens. But I put it at the bottom of the list, so you could see the many other ways that chickens are like having a hired hand on the farm or homestead.
But alas, the daily supply of eggs and the fresh chicken meat for your Sunday dinner are great benefits as well.
You know what is in your food because you feed the chickens who lay the eggs or that you use for meat. It’s a great feeling!
These are just a few of the ways chickens are helpful to the homestead and farm.
What other ways has your flock helped you?