Many kids today don’t give a second thought about where their food comes from. Never before has a culture been farther removed from its food source. Fast, easy, and processed is the very definition of the American diet and it is terribly unhealthy. One of the greatest gifts a parent can give to their child is nutritional awareness. Healthy eating habits are perpetuated over a lifetime. A great way to start is to put children in touch with their food source; raising chickens is one way to do just that.
The Importance of Healthy Living
If you were to ask the average elementary school child where their food comes from, they’ll likely reply, “From the grocery store!” Many kids have never seen a farm outside of picture books. Lack of healthy food choices contribute to the alarming percentage of American children who are overweight. Change must occur and the best place for this to happen is in the home. Bring the kids out to local farms to see how they work and get up close and personal with the animals. Bring them to the farmer’s market and buy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Move beyond apples, oranges, and bananas. Read books together about healthy eating and where food comes from. Best of all, adopt healthy eating habits as a family and make nutrition a vital part of your life.
How Do Chickens Play Into All This?
Raising backyard chickens puts kids in touch with their food source like nothing else. Caring for and raising a chicken from chick to table is an incredible lesson (although this can be traumatic for some kids, so use caution). Gathering eggs is not only fun, but also incredibly educational. The children learn to care for the birds and respect animals while also learning responsibility through daily chores. Whether they feel like feeding and watering the birds or not, whether they want to gather eggs or clean the coop or not, these things need to be done. These are lessons that can’t be learned through a textbook.
Respecting the Importance of Life
Kids of all ages gain a lot from hatching and raising chicks. Watch the amazement in their eyes as the chicks hatch. Teach them to care for the delicate babies, honing their nurturing skills. Teach them to value life and commit for the long haul as they care for the birds for years. Chickens are perky, funny beings who will capture the entire family’s hearts in no time and they’re not hard to love. They teach kids lessons in patience, respect for living creatures, and animal husbandry. They’ll likely learn about the frailty of life, too, and the hard truth about loss should a bird die.
Teaching Self-Sustainability Too
Another great lesson to be found in raising chickens is the concept of self-sustainability. Not all food must come from the grocery store. In fact, some food (such as eggs) can easily be raised at home and tastes even better than the conventional store-bought variety. The kids may start wondering what else they can do for themselves.
Don’t Forget The Fun!
Raising chickens can be great fun and chickens can make wonderful pets. If your kids aren’t completely interested in raising backyard birds, however, don’t press the issue. Don’t make the chickens a burden on them hoping they’ll come to enjoy the birds. There’s a chance it’ll work, but more likely they’ll resent the added responsibilities. If the kids are interested in chicken husbandry and are just as enthusiastic as you are, do research as a family. Make sure that the kids are responsible enough and are in it for the long haul. If you get into this wisely, it may turn into one of the most rewarding experiences you’ve ever shared as a family.