More and more people are raising backyard chickens. I know a few families who are raising their own chickens and enjoying a nice supply of fresh eggs and even some meat. Chickens can also help reduce annoying ticks and insects in the backyard and even enjoy eating many common weeds. One of my friends just finished building a fancy coop she calls the “Le Palais de Poulets.” Another transformed a kids’ playhouse into a colorful coop for her hens. With so many people raising backyard chickens, I couldn’t help but think of how kids can get involved.
Chickens make easy chores
My grandma had free range chickens when I was a little girl. I helped with the chickens almost every day in one way or another. There are several chores that are easy for even very young children and can be a lot of fun.
Feeding the chickens is a childhood favorite. My kids helped feed their friend’s hens during a recent play date. Older kids can measure the food themselves, but little ones will be tempted to overfeed the chickens just because it is so much fun to scatter the feed and watch the chickens excitedly peck away.
One of my favorite chores was putting the chickens to bed. This usually involved more running around and arm-waving than was truly necessary, but for a kid, that is the best part. Getting all the chickens securely put in their coop for the night is an essential part of keeping you flock safe.
Some chores require caution
Sweeping out the chicken coop is not so much fun. It is stinky and gross, but the manure can make good fertilizer if you mix it in your compost. A mask can help protect a child’s lungs while they sweep out the coop, and glasses can protect their eyes from flying feathers and straw.
Gathering the eggs should also be done with caution. I remember finding a big black snake in the chicken coop more than once as a child. While many snakes are harmless, care should still be taken to avoid blindly sticking one’s hand in a nest.
Chickens can be friendly – or not
Some chickens are very friendly. I’ve seen roosters that were so gentle they would hop right up on a person’s lap. But some chickens are not friendly at all. Even the nicest hens can turn ugly when they have chicks, and all chickens naturally peck at things that resemble something they might be able to eat. For this reason, little kids should always be supervised around chickens, even the ones they know.
More by Tavia:
Start a Worm Composting Bin with Your Kids
Mental Health Benefits of Working Outdoors
Five Ways to Include Kids in Your Gardening