We’ve all heard of the therapeutic benefits of chicken soup for the soul. Well the same can be said of keeping chickens. Our feathered friends can contribute a lot to our wellbeing and can help those suffering from a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, isolation, loneliness and dementia.
For those of you keeping chickens at home, there is an enormous sense of responsibility, fulfilment and pride in nurturing a healthy flock or just collecting eggs each day. But the benefits go way beyond sourcing your breakfast each day. We have eggs-amined some of the ways that chickens can brighten up our lives.
1 – HenPower
HenPower has spread the virtues of chicken keeping across 40 care homes in the UK. The initiative brings older people together in arts activities and hen-keeping to promote health and wellbeing and reduce loneliness. The University of Northumbria carried out research into the HenPower program and concluded that it was particularly beneficial to older men whose sense of well-being increased as they felt less lonely and depressed when caring for the hens.
2- Help for those cooped-up
Our intrepid hens are reaching all areas of society, and some have even flown the coop for a more structured life behind bars. Prisoner rehabilitation is maybe a less obvious route for a chicken’s life to take, but some convicts have benefited from learning animal care skills while enjoying the calming effect the birds can have. The State Hospital in Scotland is one such location where chickens wander the animal garden freely. Meanwhile, Ashworth Hospital in Merseyside looks after dangerous criminals, uses therapy chickens to help them deal with a wide range of mental health issues. In Edinburgh Prison, it was reported that prisoners received some hens, built a coop and used the eggs in cookery lessons.
3- Innercity education
Life in the city can be fast-paced and intense. However, the Furry Tales project at Stepney City Farm in London, brings the countryside alive in the capital’s sprawling metropolis. A mixture of Pekin Bantam chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs visit care homes and day centres across London, brightening the day for countless elderly people, with the Pekin bantams particularly popular, as they enjoy human interaction, sitting on people’s laps and enjoying being stroked.
4- Great for the garden!
Chickens kept at home, can be great for the garden. Make sure you use a ChickenGuard door opener and then your chickens are free to roam the grounds without you having to get up at the crack of dawn. There might be a pecking order to your flock, but all of those beaks are perfect for tiling the soil. The constant scratching and digging will help to create a nice garden bed, requiring less water. Chicken litter also provides a fantastic, natural compost which your garden plants will love.
5 – Keeping pests under control
One of the great bug bears of the summer is the number of critters that come out to play. To your chickens however, flies, mosquitos and ticks look a tasty, protein-packed treat. Your chickens can be relied upon to hunt and peck their way across your lawn, keeping it clear of bugs that will damage your plants, not to mention eating weeds.
6 – A family group activity
Keeping chickens is a task that the whole family can take part in and one that appeals to all ages. Teaching children about responsibility and empathy for animals can be a most rewarding experience and for them, there is the added excited of interaction with an animal and the fun of collecting eggs!
7- A hen party with a difference
For the hens, the whole experience of earning their corn can be mutually beneficial. In recent years many people have rehomed ex-commercial hens, living an outside life for perhaps the first-time. They are adaptable and often relish the opportunity to become a family pet. So the benefits flow both ways.
There are many reasons why keeping chickens can be a wing-wing situation. Having happy, healthy hens can help promote a happy, healthy you. Why not get in touch and share your good-feel chicken stories with us? We love a good cluckle. Please feel free to get in touch on our Facebook profile.