Chickens have been the biggest thing to happen to Aussie backyards since the Hills Hoist. And it’s safe to say, the Australian chook movement is well and truly on the rise, with the country’s chicken ownership above the worldwide average and 416,000 households known to keep a feathered family.
Other markets aren’t far off with over 800,000 chicken keepers in the UK, 10 million keepers in Europe and 7 million in the US. Chicken keeping has been part of our lives for thousands of years but the idea of having your own hens faded as battery hens became the norm.
But now keeping a small flock or just one or two hens as pets is gaining momentum. ChickenGuard, the world’s most innovative automatic locking system for chicken coop doors, is transforming Australia’s rapidly growing urban farming movement, making backyard chicken keeping easier and safer than ever before.
ChickenGuard wanted to learn from their customers as to the main reasons for chicken ownership. They commissioned a survey, alongside their customer and social media comments, and found some intriguing facts and fascinating insights into why, for so many, chickens have become a crucial part of a stress-free life.
It’s the EGGS!
There is one real pull that entices newbies into keeping chickens for the first time – that’s the eggs.
There is an ever-growing trend for organic and free-range produce, to know the source of our food (“farm to fork”) and for local produce that doesn’t have the miles clocked up on it. Freshness and localness not only provide quality, but they aren’t standardised, and they have a fuller flavour.
Chicken keeping provides an alternative to the mass-produced products and food that is part of 21st century living. Just keeping one or two hens provides the opportunity to have your own eggs, daily. And of course, they are not just any eggs, but your own fresh, free range eggs from your own hens. Surely that can’t be bettered!
In ChickenGuard’s survey over 90% of our chicken keepers said that eggs were a reason for keeping chickens. The eggs provide the inspiration. Chicken keeping provides a little bit of the “good life” that so many people crave, a feeling of being closer to the earth, and closer to our animal friends.
Chickens are moving up the pet, pecking order
The survey and social media comments offer some further less direct reasons for the rise in chicken keeping. What has become apparent over recent years is that chickens are being viewed as pets. They are moving up the pet, pecking order. Our survey backed it up with 67% of our survey respondents saying that they keep chickens as pets. With a significant 41% saying for garden control too.
Like cats and dogs, each chicken has its own character. They can be friendly, cheeky, mischievous, quarrelsome, or all of those rolled into one. They need care. And most of the time they enjoy a bit of human company and a treat or two! Unlike cats and dogs, and with those eggs in mind, they might be termed a utilitarian pet.
Keeping Hens is Good for Your Soul
It’s this relationship with their hens and the hens’ character that is making chicken keeping more popular. The survey confirmed that chickens provide great companionship, with 33% of respondents giving “companionship” as a reason for keeping their hens.
Part of that companionship is the routine and care that comes as part of the contract made with yours chickens. They rely on you and they need regular care and attention. There is a very definite routine. Keeping them is good for you and good for your soul. It is why chickens are increasingly kept at schools, at care homes and even at prisons. The routine is good, the connection with the animals is good and the characters are fun.
It is a natural “de-stress”; just watch those chickens play around, pecking and clucking.
Read our to even less stress guide to chicken keeping here.