By: Alec Sharp (Palmetto Prepper)
For over 5000 years people have been keeping domesticated chickens and there must be a good reason for that. I would say that the reasons are quite simple; the chicken provides food security along with food safety and quality, putting it at the top of any preppers list.
If you are planning to keep chickens to provide food for your family after an economic collapse then you have made a great choice. Chickens are small in size, have low maintenance and the ability to provide you with both eggs and meat. The average chicken will lay 260 eggs a year, so if you have a small flock of just four hens you should have over 1,000 eggs to feed your family. If you add a rooster to the mix and make sure you have a breed of chicken that is known for being broody, then you can leave some of those eggs in with the hens and your flock will continue to thrive. In addition to providing direct food for you and your family they also produce fertilizer and eat pest that could ruin your survival garden.
If you are not worried about an economic collapse or the end of the world there are other fine reasons why chickens are a bargain and a must have. One of the most economic and politically compelling reasons to raise chickens is to recycle food and yard waste, keeping it out of the land fill and becoming a valuable organic soil builder for your garden. Chickens provide natural insect control by eating protein packed insect, which will cut down on their feed bill. But, for me and my family, we are more concerned with food production.
If you have chickens, then you need to make sure you can provide for them while they continue to produce for you and your family. Like mentioned above chickens love to eat bugs and scratch at the ground to dig up other tiny morsels of food, helping to provide for themselves. But they can only do this if you allow them to free range. My current flock of eight hens and a rooster get about 60% of their food from grain and the other 40% from forging around the yard. They could get by on less gain but if you want them to produce more eggs for you I honestly believe the grain is an important part of there up keep. However, I know people that just let them forage for their food, giving them just enough grain to come back to the coop every night. After TSHTF and you run low on grain you can always feed them kitchen scraps and you should be fine. I included kitchen scraps in the above estimate of the grain I feed them.
One last note for the prepper with chickens in their survival plan like anything else there is a learning curve, so I encourage you to start your flock now. You will be glad you do not have to learn another skill when all hell breaks loose, in addition to trying to figure out where your starter flock is going to come from.
For more information on prepping please visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PalmettoPrepper .