7 Benefits of Raising Backyard Chickens with Kids

There are many benefits of raising chickens with your kids and I had no idea the joy these fun little animals would bring to our family. When we brought home our tiny $2 chicks from the store last spring, I was excited for the little fluff balls to grow up and start laying their first eggs. Do you know who was even more excited than me? My one year old and three year old daughters! And possibly my husband, who needed proof that all of his hard work building the coop was worth it 🙂 

Smiling child holding a chick

Chicken eggs were never the main reason I decided to get backyard chickens. I was very excited for the experience of owning chickens, watching them grow and letting my children take part in caring for them and seeing a small part of where their food comes from. If you’re thinking of getting chickens and also raising small children I’m here to encourage you to do it! 

Backyard chickens truly are very low maintenance and you don’t need a lot to start.  Building the chicken coop is the hardest part, and it doesn’t need to be anything fancy.  Unless you want it to, in that case there are some really cute chicken coop plans out there. The joy of seeing your children collect fresh eggs and laugh at the chickens’ antics are pretty great motives by themselves, but I have a few more reasons to raise chickens if you (or your husband) need a little persuading!

Raising Chickens is Full of Learning Opportunities for Kids

1) Raising chicks teaches kids the importance of being gentle

Starting with baby chicks, my kids first learned the importance of gentle handling as we bonded with our new feathered friends. The more the chicks are handled the more likely they are to be lap or pet chickens and friendly towards you as they grow. I recommend you start with chicks as they are more likely to become affectionate and used to being held if you start holding them when they are small.  Chicks are also much less intimidating for younger kids to hold.  There are certain breeds that tend to be more friendly, such as the beloved Buff Orpington, often referred to as the “golden retriever” of chickens.  Our Buff Orpington is named Elsa and is by far the favorite.  She is the easiest chicken to handle and has a very friendly demeanor. 

One benefit of raising chickens with kids is teaching them how to hold a chicken gently. Picture shows a girl holding a chicken in the chicken coop.

Note: We always wash our hands after handling our chickens. Young children should be monitored when they are interacting with chickens if they still gravitate towards putting their hands in their mouth.  Even healthy chicks can carry salmonella in their poop, so we try to keep chicken poop on one side of the yard and the nesting boxes clean so our eggs are clean when we get them!

2) Chicken chores teach kids confidence and responsibility

My daughter helps care for our chickens and it is now part of her daily chores and morning routine. We have given her the responsibility of checking the coop for eggs, which is a new joy for her every day.  She has grown immensely in her ownership of the chickens and her role in taking care of them.

Before we had our own chickens she was fairly timid around many animals. As she’s learned the correct way to approach and hold our chickens she has grown in her confidence to care for them. I’ve seen her overall confidence levels rise greatly by having these responsibilities. She loves the autonomy it has given her and enjoys any opportunity to care for them. Part of the her responsibilities are making sure they have fresh water and their food bin is full and clean. She also gives them our kitchen scraps, snacks from the garden and their absolute favorite treat black soldier fly larvae. 

The kids responsibilities will change if older kids are involved.  They can help with cleaning out the coop, refilling the pine shavings for bedding and examining the chickens for any signs of illness. 

two small chicks in the grass

3) Raising chickens with kids is a great introduction to sustainability

 I love that my daughter sees where her scrambled eggs come from (we haven’t gotten to the chicken part yet) and can go outside and find delicious eggs for breakfast.  Raising chickens has also taught her the importance of not wasting food. We try to send all of our food scraps out for the chickens to enjoy after dinner.  Even the chicken’s egg shells can be crushed and given back to them as a wonderful source of calcium.  

There are many herbs you can plant in your vegetable garden that can be grown for chickens that provide a both yummy snack and lots of health benefits for your chickens.  Happy and healthy chickens = healthy eggs for you to enjoy.  The nutritional benefits of free range and backyard chicken eggs are many and when you see the bright orange yolk from your own chickens, you know they are healthy and nutritious.   

Kids can also learn the value of taking care of plants and animals and how they go hand in hand.  Everything is connected and has a use. Our next step is turning our chicken manure into compost for our garden beds, which will be a wonderful learning opportunity for the entire family when the time comes. There is always something new to learn, which is why raising chickens is referred to as the “gateway to homesteading”. It is the easiest place to start as far as raising animals and providing a more sustainable way of living for your family. 

4) Helpful conversations around the circle of life

Raising chicks from incubating their eggs is a fun lesson my daughter just had the chance to experience in her preschool.  Learning the life cycle of a chick and watching them grow in an adult chicken and eventually lay their own eggs to be hatched into little chicks is a great lesson and learning opportunity for kids of all ages.  

Fortunately, we haven’t had any of our chickens die, but it will happen eventually. When it does happen it will be very sad for the kids, as it is with any animal you love.  It will also provide a great teaching opportunity on the circle of life and open up the door to some helpful conversations around death. There are big emotions we feel when we are sad and having a chicken die is a very gentle introduction to some of these conversations.  

two children looking over two small chicks in the grass

5) Educational Opportunities

As mentioned above, there are many rabbit holes that you can dive into learning once you introduce chickens to your lifestyle and home.  Older children can learn more complex science behind raising chickens such as why eggs are certain colors, the anatomy of the chicken, parts of the egg and nutritional content, different breeds and their origins, life cycle of the chicken, etc.  There is a lot to learn about chickens and I’m sure you will learn something new too! Also, be prepared to look up chicken illnesses, it’s not a search for the faint of heart, but keeping your hens healthy is important and there is a lot to learn in the area of chicken health.

6) Caring for Backyard Chickens Can Be Very Low Maintenance

Being busy taking care of my two kids, I was worried about my capacity to take care of an animal as well. Caring for chickens is really not too hard and once routines are established you will find they are relatively low maintenance. Also, adding in parts of their care has easily been incorporated into our daily rhythms at home.

We only have four chickens, and will be adding more this spring, but starting with a few helps keep you from feeling overwhelmed as you get used to caring for them.  It is a good idea to start with at least three chicks, as they are flocking birds and like to hang out together. They will also snuggle up and keep each other warm in the winter.  By starting with a small flock of chickens you will only have to change their water when it gets dirty or empty about once a week.  We bought a larger feeder that can last multiple weeks, even longer in the summer when their diet is being supplemented by more garden treats and free ranging in our backyard for bugs. 

By using the deep litter method, we only clean out their coop one time in the spring. Otherwise we just add fresh pine shavings throughout the year to keep it balanced and not stinky.  Once I learned that their coop didn’t require cleaning on a regular basis I was sold. I highly recommend looking into the deep litter method if you are looking for ease. You can learn more about it here.  Lastly, when we go out of town it is quite easy to find friends or neighbors who enjoy coming over to gather eggs and check in on the chicks.  As long as their food and water is full there isn’t much else to worry about when we leave town.

two toddlers gently petting a chick in the grass

7) Raising chickens with kids is a lot of fun!

There are a lot of great benefits of keeping chickens with your kids and the best reason is that it’s a lot of fun! They are super funny animals, make great pets and we enjoy watching them peck for bugs and explore our backyard.  

A colorful basket of eggs is always a delight in the kitchen and the egg box.  The anticipation of seeing the color of eggs our easter egger chickens would lay was so exciting! They now give us beautiful blue eggs to add to our basket.  I should note that one chicken will only produce one color of egg for its entire life. Easter egger chickens are mixed with one breed that carries the blue egg gene and a brown laying breed. You won’t know what color their eggs will be until they start laying.  There are a variety of shades and colors of eggs from different breeds, which I find beautiful and a lot of fun to think about as we grow our flock.  We just added an olive egger to our flock, which will lay a beautiful green egg! 

I asked my daughter why she loves our chickens and she said ,”because they’re so cute!”.  So, if you enjoy cute, funny animals who also give you a constant supply of scrambled eggs and teach your children life skills and empathy, you should probably invest in some backyard chickens. It is a great opportunity for learning and fun with your kids and the first step to a more sustainable lifestyle. You can do it!

What are other questions you have about raising chickens with your kids??

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