Chickens are considered the foundation, of farming and homesteading and there’s a reason for that. They are a utility animal that can provide for a family over and over again. Chickens give new farmers, and preppers, a look into what a sustainable lifestyle can look like, and in doing so, they also open the door to other possibilities: goats, rabbits, pigs.
As a foundational farm animal, establishing a flock is only the first step in creating a system that is not only self-sustaining but also very fulfilling.
If you are a prepper looking for the best animal to take with you through the tough times, chickens might just be your best bet. While chickens may not do well in confinement and need to have good ventilation, there aren’t many other reasons for a survivalist not to have chickens.
Breeds to Consider
The best chicken breeds for preppers are dual-purpose breeds that are hearty in all climates. Being able to have both meat and eggs from your birds will be a gift if things get tough.
Some breeds to consider for your homestead are the Brahma, Australorp, and the Orpington (especially if you want your chickens to reproduce and hatch their own eggs).
Orpingtons are the ideal survivalist chicken due to consistent egg production, meat on the bird, and their ability to go broody. They are also smart foragers and take pretty good care of themselves when left to free-range.
Those who own chickens know their value, and as a prepper, you should also consider the following reasons to keep chickens on your must-have list for the future.
1. Chickens Are Inexpensive
As a prepper, you know that everything needs to be stretched, including money, especially while preparing for an uncertain future. Chickens are one of the least expensive livestock to get started with, and they will surely return on your investment quickly.
Chickens will not ask a lot of you, aka they don’t cost much once you have them. Once they have shelter, food, and water, even in the worst case scenarios, they will take good care of themselves.
Once you’ve selected the right breed for your family, chickens will reproduce on their own, which means you would not need to invest in new chicks every year. Just make sure you keep a rooster or two with your flock and select a breed that goes broody often…ahem, the Orpington.
2. Easy to Care For
Chickens are extremely easy to care for. In fact, they will often do most of the work for you by foraging for their food (assuming you have chosen breeds who specialize in free-ranging).
Supplying fresh food and water daily doesn’t come down to much work, especially if your chickens are free to roam about. They will feed themselves, and all you should have to provide is something to supplement their meals to make sure they have all the nutrition they need depending on your environment.
By the way, chickens are omnivores, which means they eat meat and veggies, so luckily they aren’t too picky when it comes down to the last few scraps. They will happily eat corn, bugs, and frogs.
3. Chickens Provide Protein
One of the most important things for a prepper to have is protein. Protein equals nutrition and energy, and chickens provide both with their meat and eggs.
An average chicken can produce approximately one egg per day, and keeping a few good hens on hand will ensure that your family has enough eggs on a daily basis for a healthy, protein-packed breakfast.
Bonus: Because chickens grow quite rapidly, fresh meat is never too far off. However, large birds, that are not genetically modified, may not grow as fast…but you can be sure they are hardier than those that were commercialized. In other words, a Cornish-Cross will not make for a good survivalist chicken because they are not a hardy breed (nor do they provide eggs or reproduce easily). A Buff Orpington may grow slower, but they are much more durable than a typical Broiler and will provide a fair amount of tasty meat.
4. Chickens Can Reproduce Quickly
Hens that tend to go broody will reproduce on their own and will not require much effort on your part. Broody hens, like the Buff Orpington, will sit on her own eggs, thus you will not need electricity for an incubator.
As long as you keep a rooster, and a few young backup roos, on hand, you will have a flock that will continue to multiply on its own when you need it to.
5. Fertilizing Machines
Chickens are fantastic fertilizers for your garden. They naturally aerate the earth and leave behind droppings as they do so. Since it’s likely that your plans include a bountiful garden, you can easily utilize your chickens’ manure to establish a beautiful vegetable garden.
7. Chickens Don’t Need Much Space
Certain chickens will do better in confined spaces than others and there are chicken breed lists that will help you determine which, but in general, most chickens do well in small spaces. If you are short on space, a couple dual-purpose hens will do just fine with what you are able to provide for them.
8. Pest Control
Since chickens are omnivores, they will happily eat vegetation and meat. If you find yourself in an area with nuisance insects you can count on your chickens to handle the population quite well.
In that same thread, chickens are not afraid to chase down small rodents, like mice, which tend to be carriers of disease. In fact, they love to eat these small pests and will often fight over them. It’s quite entertaining to watch your hens chase each other just to get a taste of a little mouse morsel.
9. Wander Nots
Chickens are amazing creatures of habit, and if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have the ability to confine your livestock, you will not have to worry about losing your chickens.
Chickens will stick around, as long as they have what they need to survive. All it takes is a few days of confinement in the desired area, and they will naturally stay nearby. If they know where to roost, and who provides the food and water, they are quite loyal little critters.
Plus, if you end up moving, you can easily retrain your chickens to know where their new home is, so they can go with you wherever you need to go without saying a peep. There are many portable chicken coops and many do it yourself coop plans that can be done affordably with material around the house.
Speaking of entertainment, your chickens can also be considered pets, if that’s something you would like. They are fun to watch, functional, sustainable, and some are friendly enough to cuddle from time to time. If you are completely on your own, your chickens will provide enough companionship to get you through the tough times.
Chickens need the outdoors to remain productive and healthy, so unless you are forced to confine them in a basement for months or years, you will be hard-pressed to find any other animal that will do as well in tough situations as a chicken does.
Humans have relied on chickens for at least 8,000 years, and they’ve remained one of the easiest, most productive, and versatile animals that have ever been domesticated. If you stick with the breeds that do best in a variety of situations, and will provide both meat and eggs, you will be making a great decision for your future.