The trend of raising your own chickens is gathering steam for a variety of reasons. It’s fun, easy, and inexpensive when compared to other pets. You get the freshest eggs that taste great & are super nutritious. Chickens provide chemical-free bug and weed control (After all, they are eating the mosquitoes when they free-range). Their waste helps create the world’s best and most locally produced fertilizer. And, it’s a great hobby for the whole family to enjoy. The lessons children learn from participating in the care of their chickens can only be equaled by beekeeping (see my post on backyard beekeeping here).
1. Check your local ordinances
Make sure backyard chickens are legal in your village. Check with your hometown to make sure they allow it and that you are following all of the rules. If they do not allow it, get the ordinance changed and then start a coop.
2. Chose the site for the coop
You will need at least 2 square feet for each chicken so the more you want the bigger it needs to be. 5’X20’ is a standard size. Think carefully about where you want to put it. Behind the garage might sound good but the neighbor might not appreciate it and you know what they say; out of sight, out of mind. Then all you need is some protection from the harsh winter wind and you have it.
3. Plan Now
You need to design the coop before you try to install it. There are many pre-build varieties available and you’ll want to make sure it will fit in the space you plan on installing it. Next you have to make sure you are willing to do the maintenance they require. There are many modern conveniences that make it easier, from large capacity feeders to automatic watering devices, but you’ll still be to clean it at least once a week. Which means you also need to have a plan on dealing with the droppings (don’t worry, that’s an easy part).
4. Don’t be intimidated
It’s no more work than a dog or a cat: even less in the dog’s case. There are lots of on-line communities and local Associations you can join and get all of your questions answered. Remember; you are not the first person to do this.
5. Then Maintain It
You have to commit to maintaining the coop. The feeders, waterers and pre-made coops make it easy but you still need to clean the coop and refill the feeders. You also have to clean it at least once a week and get rid of the waste. But that’s the best part, you can throw the waste and the shells into your compost pile to really give it some oomph!
6. Have Fun
The most important this is to remember to have fun. The Zen of watching chickens is one of the most unanticipated benefits to Back Yard Chicken Coops.