Photo: Some children grow up to love their chickens like pets. Credit: Shutterstock
3. You Are What You Eat
Earlier on this list, we mentioned that you can give chickens scraps from the garden as food. However, you need to be careful, because the wrong foods can have unintended consequences. If you plan to give your chickens scraps of food from the garden, be aware that their eggs will begin to smell like it. For example, garlic and onions are so strong, that the flavor will transfer over to the eggs. If you’re making an omelette, maybe that’s a good thing. But no one wants to crack an egg into your mixing bowl, only to realize their cake tastes like garlic.
You also need to make sure your birds are eating a balanced diet. For example, a lack of calcium could make the egg shells too thin, and break easily. This is why many people buy store-bought food that’s fortified with extra calcium supplement. And if you were planning to eventually eat the chicken for meat, you would need to do some research to see which vitamins and minerals are going to result in the best-tasting bird.
2. Keep Your Chickens Away From Plants That Can Kill Them
While it may be tempting to throw all of your food scraps to your chickens, you need to be very careful with what you’re feeding them. There are a lot of foods and plants that will make chickens sick, or could even lead to their death. Avocado pits, dried beans, rhubarb, and moldy or rotting foods are examples of what can make a chicken very sick. Certain foods like potatoes are toxic when they’re raw, but okay for chickens to eat if they’re fully cooked beforehand.
Before you even think about giving your flock of chickens a new treat, do a quick Google search to make sure they will be okay. The full list is too long to include here, so pleasecheck out this website for all of the plants that are toxic to chickens. If you have children, it is very important to teach them this, because it’s all too easy for kids to unwittingly give the chickens something that will make them sick or die.
1. Look Into Homestead and Small Farm Tax Deductions
If you plan to create a backyard farm, it might be a good idea for you to look into potential property tax deductions. With urban sprawl taking over natural landscapes, most municipalities have incentives for people to maintain farmland. Every state, and sometimes even towns are very different from one another with their rules of what constitutes a “farm”. Keep in mind that some of these rules have become more strict as time goes on. Some older farms have been grandfathered in to the looser restrictions.
Where I live in New Jersey, we have some of the most expensive taxes in the entire country. By becoming a farm, you get a 90% discount on property taxes, so it’s totally worth it to qualify as a farm. You need a minimum of five acres, and prove that you make at least $1,000 annually selling products that were created on your farm for two years before you get any tax breaks. There is a 20-page rule book that goes over all of the eligibility requirements. Your local area will most likely have similar rules and regulations.