Eggs are in the news right now, and it's scary. The huge salmonella related egg recall has made me very grateful that I ventured into hen raising last Spring! I am so pleased to know that the lovely brown eggs that my Girl's provide are not only safe to eat, but also as fresh as they come, and healthier than most factory farmed eggs.
Allowing my hens to graze in the yard lets them eat grass and bugs that they wouldn't get if they were "battery hens". Then there is the fresh air, sunshine and excercise they get. Not only are their eggs better for me, but they are living longer, happier and healthier lives than they would have on a factory farm.
Even if they didn't "pay rent" with eggs, I think I would keep a few chickens. They are fascinating, quirky and beautiful creatures.