My family and I have already had chickens in our garden for about six years. They are basically the best “food recyclers” and “zero waste buddies” ever! By having your own backyard chickens, you are able to lower your own amount of food waste enormously. And they also bring many other side benefits!
Turn Your Food Waste into Eggs
The cool thing about chickens is that they eat almost everything. They are omnivores, which scientifically means that they can derive nutrition from plants, grains, seeds as well as meat. This means that you can also feed them with your kitchen leftovers. But you should keep in mind to still give them chicken feed additionally, since it contains extra needed proteins
Unfortunately, food leftovers in landfills create methane, a greenhouse gas jointly responsible for climate change. On the other hand, by giving food leftovers to your chickens, you get rewarded with new food that you can eat yourself – your own fresh and organic eggs full of beneficial protein.
Those eggs do only taste way better than the ones from the supermarket, but they are also free of chemicals and antibiotics. You can already see the better quality in the more intense yellow color of the egg yolk. Furthermore, you can be assured that your own organic eggs were produced in a species-appropriate environment. If you have at least three chickens, they will produce about a dozen eggs each week. Within a whole year these three chickens eat about 123 kg and produce more than 600 eggs.
Moreover, chickens are useful for your garden. Since they pick up worms, snails and insects from the ground, you do not need a chemical pesticide. Just let your chickens do the work! But you can use the chicken’s dung in your garden, too. It is a great biological fertilizer, because it contains tons of nutrients.
What Else To Know About Chickens?
In general, they are pretty easy to raise and keep. They are rather undemanding and already happy if you feed them, provide them with a nice stable and give them enough space. There are many different breeds of chickens to choose from. Each chicken has its own character – just like dogs or cats.
Some are really affectionate and love to be petted, while others are more frightened towards humans. You can see some of our chickens in the above picture. The Sundheimers (white) are rather shy whereas the hybrid chickens (brown) always run to you as soon as you enter the stable.
We got our chickens from the local poultry breeding club, but another possibility is to ask local farmers or see if you find a small animal market that offers chickens. And you can even help “Rettet das Huhn e.V.” to save former laying hens from factory farms that would otherwise be slaughtered! Although these chickens are only 16-17 months young and still lay plenty of eggs, they are not profitable enough for the laying industry. The factory farms rather dispose them like rubbish and replace them with younger hens. For only this reason, in Germany alone around 45million laying hens get killed each year.
Motivate Others To Improve Their Food Waste Behaviour
Another great side effect is that through chickens you can improve the attitude of others towards sustainability and food. You will see that in the end even your neighbors will start to bring their food leftovers to your chickens instead of throwing them in a bin. So, you not only lower your own amount of food waste, but possibly also motivate others to do so! Another thing I realized is that many of my family’s friends have also decided to get their own backyard chickens after they visited us and saw how great chickens really are! In the end I can say two things for certain: Chickens are definitely a fantastic experience for young and old! And they also help you to change your own attitude towards food!
If you like to know even more about poultry raising check out the following blog: This blog, for example, offers you more information about the costs of holding your own chickens and the rules you should keep in mind while doing so. But they also have some great reviews on books about poultry raising.
- Gartenhühner (2014). Fünf Gründe eigene Hühner zu halten. Retrieved from: https://gartenhuehner.de/news/5-gruende-eigenen-huehner-zu-halten/
- Senger, S. (2019). Zero Food Waste and the Rise of the Backyard Chicken. Retrieved from: https://medium.com/land-and-ladle/zero-waste-and-the-rise-of-the-backyard-chicken-dcd200b221d3