I have 10 good reasons to pen a post on chickens . . . and they all live in my backyard.

Yes, I happen to be one of those urban chicken keepers you may have read about. In particular, I’m one of a tiny but growing number of micro-farmers who put lots of eggs on the table — partly as an exercise in sustainable animal agriculture, but mostly because it’s a ton of fun.

In fact, a large percentage of the backyard chicken keepers I know are devoted to their birds not as farm animals, but as pets. These chicken lovers don’t keep roosters, and nor do I, since I don’t need babies or a 4 a.m. wake-up call. They have little interest in their hens’ egg-laying potential, and they would rather die than slaughter their beloved girls.

Although I tell my friends, neighbors, clients and readers that chickens are the coolest, easiest and most entertaining pets ever, everyone always acts like I’ve made some kind of lame joke. So this is why I'm offering five concrete reasons why you may just want to rethink your skepticism!

Chickens Provide . . . a Great Learning Experience

If you’ve never lived with a bird and you’re considering one as a pet, the domesticated chicken is the best starter bird. They’re fairly inexpensive, easy for even the greenest newbie to raise from chickhood through adulthood and they can teach you lots about avian behavior and basic biology.

The only downsides: You’ll need a little more space than you would for the average cockatiel, and zoning can be an issue — i.e., you may need a special permit or a zoning variance.

Chickens Provide . . . a Unique Form of Companionship

I once met a young rooster who'd drape his head over my arm. It was really sweet. And although I’d enjoyed the company of one truly bonded pet bird in the past, this one became especially attached to me quickly, which is not uncommon for hens. At times, they can be even more solicitous and affectionate than dogs and cats.

Chickens Provide . . . Plenty of Humor

Chickens are very funny. Whether they're observed individually or as a flock, their behavior offers the best kind of slapstick.

Mine are hilarious first thing in the morning, when some of them congregate clucking near my front door. Once I step outside, the entire flock runs headlong toward me at warp chicken speed in advance of a handout. (And there is nothing funnier than a chicken on a mission.) Post-feeding, more high jinks ensue. With them, every movement and every interaction offer an opportunity for extreme silliness.

Chickens Provide . . . Delicious Eggs

My girls’ eggs are the best on the planet. At the very least, they’re the best eggs I’ve ever tasted. And when the avocados are in season, the eggs are especially delectable, since all that downed fruit in my yard gets translated into eggdom.

But hens do stop laying eggs after a few years, which means that they can easily live an additional five to 10 years without offering you a comestible payoff. Luckily, their other attributes overcome this tiny flaw.

Chickens Provide . . . Bragging Rights

How many people can say:

A.) They have a pet chicken (or 10)?

B.) They eat fresh eggs every morning?

C.) Their pets are helping them go green?

Yes, by raising hens as egg layers, chicken keepers are probably chipping away at a significant bit of their carbon footprints — especially if they’re like me and use their hens as living composters. Plus, chickens can be counted on to eat lots of nasty bugs.

So have I convinced you this time around? By the time I write another post on chickens, maybe you’ll have some stories of your own to tell.

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