How Chickens Create a ZERO WASTE Urban Homestead

It all started with these little fluffy butts:

I didn't quite realize how a handful of laying hens would transform our city lot into a true urban homestead. In fact, over the last few months, I've been thinking a lot about how chickens create a zero waste urban homestead. 

Let me first start by sharing a photo of our carrot harvest. Look at this beautiful crop of organic carrots:

I spent about 25 minutes cutting the tops from that table of carrots, and would ordinarily toss them into our small compost bin:

Thanks to our four chickens, the carrot tops didn't even make it to the compost bin. I tossed the greens right into their attached run, and within the day the ladies had devoured almost the entire crop of greens.

In fact, pretty much any edible, organic matter goes straight to the chickens. This includes kitchen scraps, weeds and greens from the garden, leftovers from meals, or items from the fridge or deep freezer that we won't use up before spoiling. If you'd examine the contents of an average American's bag of trash, you'd discover that 40% of the contents can and should be composted, but aren't. That means all that compostable, organic matter is taken to the landfill. 

If you're like me, you probably find that statistic pretty disheartening. John and I were doing our part to keep organic matter out of the landfill by composting, but chickens have only accelerated our efforts. 

We're able to supplement their diet on scraps and foods that we (or our dogs) won't/can't consume. This also keeps our feed bill down for the ladies, and gives them a diet more true to what they would find 'in the wild', with plenty of vegetation and insects to munch on.

While we are able to produce a significant amount of food for two people right in our own backyard, there is a organic matter/waste element to consider, which is significantly more than our small compost bin can handle. And, with all those extra scraps and garden weeds to eat, comes poop.

Our chickens free range our fenced in yard during the day when one of us are outside with them. They poop wherever they please, thus fertilizing our lawn and garden areas. When we aren't able to be outside with them during the day, we have a large, spacious enclosed chicken tractor for the ladies.

The chicken tractor is nice because it is exactly the same size as one of our six raised garden beds. At the end of the season, we simply put the tractor over top of the garden bed and let the ladies tear it apart. They take care of spent garden plants and produce, till the soil with their feet, and fertilize it with their poo.

They also take great pleasure in seeking out any and all insects in the backyard. Talk about effective insect control! As long as we have chickens, we'll never have to spray our lawn with insecticides.

And lets be real: Chickens are pretty entertaining to watch after a long day at work.

They are quiet, docile animals, and just so happen to carry their weight when it comes to creating a zero waste urban homestead. 

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  1. Still trying to convince my hubby. Maybe this article will help. Would this help with a mole issue? Would the chickens eat grubs that the moles eat therefore removing the Mole's food source and then hopefully the mole moves on instead of tearing up my lawn and garden?


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