I’ve been lucky as a chicken owner for quite a few years. Very few have been stolen by predators, and we’ve had very little illness. Right now, with a dozen chickens both old and young, I get between three and six eggs per day with the occasional bonanza of eight. That is, if I can keep the Gopher Snakes out. I catch the snakes when I can and take them a few hundred meters away and hope they find new homes to rob. With limited free-ranging in a pretty poor environment they cost me no more than $10-$20 per month and a few minutes work every day. In the winter, they need a bit more tending, especially to keep the water unfrozen. I can’t see how suburban America has so lost it’s way that there is a fight to keep chickens in your own yard. I recently heard a politician refer to them as “gateway livestock”.
I love my dogs, but to hear people speak of chickens as annoying, smelly, and dangerous is ridiculous. Dogs bark, and often attack people (which are the jobs we bred them for) so the double standard is apparent.
If you have lived with chickens, you know how excellent they are at virtually eliminating small vermin; especially ticks, grasshoppers, crickets, and even the occasional mouse or snake. They are wonderful pest control, especially around the perimeter of the garden and their manure is a potent garden additive.
Maybe not as cuddly as a dog or cat, they are certainly part of our history for thousands of years. If you are considering chickens for eggs or meat, they are a simple, inexpensive investment that takes little time or money and are a great addition to the household food supply. Mine survive well on kitchen scraps including almost daily doses of broccoli stems, carrot tops, fruit peels, and even chopped weeds from the garden. They work better than composting for most waste.
They come in many varieties, builds, temperaments, and fortes, but nearly all will help out the small homesteader.