Chicken Watching: I'd hazard a guess and say that all pet chicken owners do it. Probably fairly often. And most backyard chicken keepers will tell you that chickens are more entertaining than TV---and far more relaxing!
So why am I writing about "chicken watching" rather than just "chicken keeping," you might ask?
Simple: chicken keeping is not necessarily an activity associated with PET chickens alone. You can keep 60,000 chickens crowded together in a battery farm warehouse, and see none of the benefits of pet ownership. Or you can have three pet hens and be active in providing genuinely good and humane pet care--AND see the benefits of your compassion and affection reflected back at you and your family. Plus, in this post, I wanted to address more than just the tangible benefits of pet chicken keeping (healthy, fresh eggs; reduced bug populations; compost, etc.). There's more to it than that.
The Benefits of Chicken Watching
- When you're chicken watching, you can be there in the present moment, observing the way they interact, rather than dwelling too much on the stress of a work situation, vehicle repairs, or any of the innumerable slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Keeping pets such as chickens can sharpen your mindfulness skills. And while this is a benefit you get from keeping any sort of pet, chicken watching seems especially helpful in my opinion, because they're so active with one another. My cats are darling... but adult cats aren't that active, and it's not especially engaging to watch them sleep.
- Chicken watching gets you out of doors. Modern life makes it so easy to slip into the unhealthy rut of work, sleep, digital world; work, sleep, digital world. It's effortless to sit in front of the TV or a computer screen, eat unhealthy foods and gain weight. However, chicken watching begs for interaction: toss out some scratch and watch the hens enjoy. Turn over rocks and help them find bugs. Rake up their dusting area; let them out of their run; feed them from your hand; give them affection; gather eggs, etc. etc. Keeping chickens is nothing near exhausting or difficult, but keeping outdoor animals like chickens (rather than in-home pets like cats, hamsters, etc.) does encourage you to get outside the same way keeping a dog encourages outside time for daily walks.
- Caring for pets like chickens offers many health benefits, beyond those of getting much healthier eggs. Chicken watching can lower your blood pressure, your cholesterol and your triglyceride levels, as well as reducing feelings of loneliness. Chickens are surprisingly affectionate!
- Lastly, of course, chicken watching allows you to notice when a hen might be sick, so you can take action and keep your flock healthy. After all, if you don't know what your chickens act like normally on a daily basis, you're not going to be able to tell when they're acting ill. Chicken watching is of tangible benefit to the flock itself.
What's your opinion? Aside from the obvious benefits of chicken keeping (eggs, compost, pest control, etc.), are there other benefits you've seen with your flock? Do you get outside more? Has it brought your family or neighborhood together? Please share in the comments!