Backyard flock owners appreciate their chickens as a source of fresh eggs, and many even love their birds as pets. Patrick Biggs, a flock nutritionist for Purina Animal Nutrition, presents another benefit to keeping a backyard flock — chicken therapy.
“A flock of backyard chickens can make good therapy animals because they are calming to watch, relatively easy to care for and deliver daily rewards in the form of farm fresh eggs,” he notes in a Purina media release promoting backyard chickens.
Purina showcased how for one 6-year-old boy, chickens have assisted with his autism therapy. His mother, Meredith Waskow-Bend, says her son James learned how much to feed the hens, fill up their waterers and tell which hen laid each egg he collects. After he finishes caring for the hens’ needs, he likes to read to them. Waskow-Bend says she’s noticed a marked difference in James thanks to the bond that he’s formed with his chickens.
Despite some negative sentiment some poultry producers hold against backyard flocks due to their potential for transmitting diseases, raising chickens at home can bring joy to their owners. The routine of raising chickens provides a therapeutic effect through the comfort, happiness and even companionship many families find in caring for their birds.
So as you’re managing your farm this growing season, perhaps consider adding your own flock of therapy chickens? You’ll be cracking more eggs (and perhaps an extra smile or two) in no time.