Teaching our future generation about farming not only helps foster a greater understanding of raising livestock/pets but is also a great deal of fun for all age levels. If your family is new to raising backyard chickens, we’ve put together a helpful guide to help introduce these feathery companions to your family!
1) Learning Benefits
There are a number of learning benefits associated with raising a flock with your children. All of which help bring forth a number of guiding lessons that they will be able to carry for years on down the road. We’ll get started by sharing a few of our top supporting chicken-keeping benefits that many of our backyard farmers can attest to.
Learning about where food comes from:
Many children are able to recognize food as a whole, yet many become questionable on the process taken to deliver their meal into its custom form. In an interesting study conducted overseas a few years ago by researchers in the UK, “1,000 children aged four to 12 found that 1 in 5 children don’t know that eggs come from an animal.” Many that do have a basic understanding that they come from chickens, tend to not know much beyond the reason why or how long until a chicken begins laying.
Greater health benefits:
If your family is accustomed to store-bought eggs then transitioning to backyard-raised chicken eggs will bring forth a few noticeable differences, especially when it comes to the taste, color, shape, and additional vitamins.
Teaching about Responsibility:
It often surprises many of our new backyard farmers when we share that keeping chickens is much easier than keeping cats or dogs. Depending on which phase of a chicken’s life cycle you begin with, you’ll learn that once a hen transitions past 8 weeks, they become independent enough to comfortably live in their own home outside without consistent oversight. However, when it comes to caring and providing care for your birds, there are a number of tasks that aid children in learning more about their feathery friends and their needs. A few of which include feeding, collecting eggs, and cleaning their hen’s space. Not only does this involve them in the keeping of their flock, but teaches the importance of maintaining a well-kept atmosphere for their birds’ comfort and well-being. If larger pets are something of interest later on for your children, then helping them learn the responsibility of caring for another living animal as low maintenance of a hen will help serve as a stepping stone for future larger pets.
Understanding the Cycle of Life:
If you choose to begin your family backyard chicken-keeping journey with chicks or fertilized eggs, then your children will be given the opportunity to comprehend their flock’s life journey to a new and different level. Involving a child during the incubation process shares an opportunity for children to not only learn the biological side of raising birds but also develop a deeper understanding and discussion of the inevitable life cycle of their flock members.
Although given a bad rep at times, roosters are not always aggressive. However, it is important to note that all roosters do have spurs, large talon-like growths located at the back of their legs. Roosters are territorial and protective by nature and like any animal, may attempt to protect their flock members if faced with what feels like a threat. If raising a rooster it’s important to note this precaution around children.
If you are raising a flock as chicks, there is a likeliness that with consistent visits, your future flock will adapt easier to your presence and be more friendly. Although many breeds are docile and friendly, there are some breeds that are skittish by nature.
There are a number of fun photos online of people hugging and even kissing their hens heads. Although there is nothing wrong with cradling your flock members, there are some precautions when it comes to closer contact with your hens. It’s also very important to note that not all eggs come out as pristine as they do in-store. Eggs will occasionally have some droppings on them. In addition, if raising chicks you’ll quickly learn that they leave abundant waste in their brooder, therefore it’s always vital to wash your hands after handling. It’s important to reinforce hand sanitation with younger children both before and after handling to prevent any sickness.
3) Best Breeds
As mentioned above, there are many friendly and docile breeds that are wonderful for children. If you’re looking to begin your flock, we’ve listed five of our favorites that are gentle by nature.
Easter Eggers – Not only are these breeds sweet, but their colorful eggs make for an exciting surprise for children. Easter Eggers may lay one of the following unexpected colors: light blue, seafoam green, dark green, and pink!
Buff Orpingtons – These golden hens are popular for all the right reasons! Not only are they super hardy winter layers, but their eggs are a beautiful brown. These birds are a favorite choice for pets and are known best to be non-aggressive.
Silkies – A favorite with children due to their beautiful plumage, silkies can be a gentle breed that enjoys being cared for. Although not greatly known for their egg-laying abilities, they do make excellent companions and are easier to hold. One important note is that silkies are not cold hardy breeds.
Barred Rocks – Known primarily for their uniquely checkered feathers, barred rocks have a kind and wonderful temperament. Not only are these breeds cuddle friendly, but they are also excellent egg-layers, averaging around 200 eggs a year!
Rhode Island Reds – Although these birds are known to be overall friendly, if given the chance to raise them as chicks, Rhode Island Reds will become the kindest and silliest pets for your family. We would advise, however, Rhode Island Red roosters may be territorial and defensive at times.
We hope you find these tips helpful as you consider and or begin your backyard chicken-keeping journey! Have questions or comments regarding anything mentioned in this blog post? Please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 877-741-2667.