Who would have thought that one of the biggest stories in the early-2023 news cycle would be egg prices? But here we are, mid-February of a new year, and my news feed is filled with stories about, of all things, eggs.
Then there are all those #eggdealer viral videos.…
Of course, we here at Hobby Farms and Chickens can’t help but smile a little when we read these stories. We have, after all, been chatting about chickens since long before eggs turned into a high-end product.
But as I sit here listening to one of our Australorps sing a loud-and-proud egg song from the backyard coop, it’s the question of value that sticks with me—is it worth it to raise your own chickens for eggs? I’m not going to crunch the numbers to fact-check influential news outlets, though, before answering “yes.” I’ve kept chickens for well over a decade, and I know that a flock of chickens, no matter the size, can cost a pretty penny to keep.
Rather, I want to offer four reasons backyard chickens are totally worth it … that have nothing to do with exorbitant egg prices at the grocery.
Turns out Joni Mitchel was right—you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, and in early 2023, that statement is extra true for eggs.
Eggs are a staple foodstuff, packed with vitamins and nutrients for a healthy, hearty meal. And when it comes to flexibility, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more versatile ingredient. Scrambled, fried, poached, in an omelette, quiche, sandwich or burrito … you can always make a delicious meal out of eggs.
And until recently eggs have been reliably budget-friendly.
But when prices for a grocery-store dozen put some hurt on your wallet (and adjectives like “cage-free” and “pastured” carry threat of bankruptcy) or empty shelves leave your cart sans a single egg, there’s a deep satisfaction in knowing your ladies are hard at work making breakfast out back.
While some people hold pretty extreme opinions about the state of our food supply chain, you don’t need to stay ready for doomsday to feel a little more secure when collecting eggs from the coop. Growing or raising your own food just feels good.
Chickens are fun. Sure, they’ll dig treacherous holes all over your yard, devour your best-looking tomato and squawk loudly at the site of every squirrel. But watching a flock of chickens can also bring a lot of joy into an otherwise hum-drum day.
And beyond performing antics suitable for a spell of what my wife and I call “chicken TV,” chickens can make excellent companions. Every bit the attentive pet as a family dog, a regularly engaged chicken will bond with its keeper, and some people even enjoy training their birds to do cool tricks!
Yes, we already covered how eggs are nutrition powerhouses. But beyond the basic nutrients available in chicken eggs, raising your own birds provides numerous benefits for customizing your egg enjoyment.
Of course, the most obvious benefit is freshness, as grocery-store eggs can endure long transport times before they hit the shelves. A backyard egg, however, can be enjoyed at its peak freshness.
Does freshness matter, though? Anyone who’s ever cracked a just-collected egg and seen that big, round yolk, then enjoyed a meal from the just-laid beauty can tell you that, yes … freshness matters.
There are other ways to customize your eggs, too, based on what food you provide your hens. Organic and/or non-GMO is as easy as buying the right feed. Some feeds include natural additives for a richer-colored yolk, and we’ve even heard of people giving chickens peppers to turn the yolks red! I personally like my eggs as heart-healthy as possible, so I give my hens a product with extra Omega-3.
And of course, when you raise your own chickens, cage-free is almost always a given and pastured is as easy as opening the coop door.
Finally, keeping chickens requires some upkeep—and that means you can always find a project to do to make your hens’ lives a little better. At the very least, you’ll need to clean the coop regularly to protect your chickens’ health (a nice way to enjoy an audiobook on a sunny day).
But you’ll also have plenty of coop improvements to stave off sedentation. Make a chicken treat dispenser? Rethink your doors and gates? Start an herb garden for your hens to dine on? There’s never a reason to be bored when you keep chickens!