Have you ever considered raising chickens as pets? What about for eggs and meat? The rise in new backyard farms is a trend that isn’t likely to cool anytime soon. Whether you live on an actual farm or in an apartment building in the city, you can raise chickens and insure that your family is eating GMO-free poultry.
There’s lots of steps you must take in order to get your new backyard farm ready. You’ll have to do some research and decide what kind of chickens to start with, where to get your GMO-free chicken feed, and pick a design for your chicken coop. Luckily, you can build your dream chicken coop by following these simple steps.
1. City Chickens Or Country Chickens?
A chicken coop will be vastly different on a backyard farm than it will be on the roof of an apartment building in the middle of a city. In the city, you’re likely to have less space, which must be taken into consideration when you sit down for the design phase. While egg-laying chickens really need a great coop to roost and keep their eggs safe, chickens being raised for meat will really need some space to stretch their wings and roam.
If you live in the country, you’re probably good to go; however, many cities have rules about keeping livestock as pets within city limits, so just check the codes before you start building your chicken coop.
2. Create A Design
Space is going to be a big factor in your chicken coop design. A small design will include a 4×4 foot housing area attached to a 4×8 foot screened run. Other things to consider include seasonal temperature changes, access to sunlight, and of course, budget. Don’t forget about all the elements of a chicken coop:
- Shape. Go wild here! You can produce a design that compliments your property and is aesthetically pleasing. Be sure to build the chicken coop a few feet off the ground to keep your laying hens and their eggs safe from predators.
- Ramp. Because the new coop is a ways off the ground, the chickens will need a way to get inside. Place rungs intermittently along the ramp to act as steps for the chickens, and add some sand to the paint you use. This will make it less slippery for your flock as they try to enter their new home.
- Nest Box. Your layers will need a shallow nest to lay their eggs, but not a space so comfortable that they are tempted to stay there for extended amounts of time. Placing your nest box on a wall allows you to build a latch on the outside for easy access to eggs.
- Ventilation. Those plucky chickens just don’t have the manners to relieve themselves outside. That being said, remember to design in some ventilation so those little rascals can breathe.
- Insulation. Sometimes it gets cold. If you live in one of those locales where it gets a bit too chilly, be sure that your chicken coop design includes good installation to keep everyone warm and cozy.
- Perches. Just like many other birds, chickens prefer to perch when they rest. Put several perches in your chicken coop so every member of the flock has a good spot to get some shut eye.
3. Gather Materials
Most people go straight to the hardware store and grab the two by fours and some chicken wire. While this is all well and good, you may need a few more supplies. Break your list down like this:
- Wood glue
- Chicken wire
- Measuring tape
- GMO-free chicken feed
- Bowls (or another food and water distribution method of your choosing)
Other tools we suggest include:
- Saw horses
- Power saw
- Power sander
It’s easiest to create a chicken coop if you start with the frame and work your way up. Remember that chickens resting in their home are easy prey for slick predators, so keep latches out of reach and a little more complicated to figure out. You’d be surprises at the cunning of a hungry racoon.
Other Stellar Tips For Building Your Own Chicken Coop
When you start in on the design phase, be sure to include some big doors that will give you easy access to the inside of the chicken coop. You’ll need to clean it and gather eggs on a regular basis, so you don’t want to all that hard work building it only to realize you’ve got so way to keep things sanitary. (Pro Tip: Soiled chicken litter makes excellent fertilizer!)
If you can’t include a little skylight, then consider installing a light fixture in your chicken coop. Just like humans, chickens love the sun and egg laying will slow down in the darker winter months if you don’t do what you can to give them more light in their lives.
Don’t forget that it’s your job to keep these ladies alive, so having the necessities nearby will make your life a heck of a lot easier! Build storage bins for your GMO-free chicken feed on the outside of the housing space so feeding time will be a snap. If you’re really clever, you can also build in a system to collect rain water.
This chicken coop is likely close to your dwelling, so don’t be afraid to make it incredibly charming. Add a colorful roof, windows and flower boxes, some country decor, or even a lawn gnome. Add shutters and paint it to match your house. The possibilities are endless and your imagination is the only limitation here.
So now, with your very own chicken coop beautifully built, you’re well on your way to raising your own organic eggs and chicken meat! (Just don’t forget to put the chickens in it.) What’s next? A colorful garden of scrumptious, GMO-free vegetables? Head to Facebook and Twitter to share your tales of backyard farming and your tips for sustainable living with Hiland Naturals. We can’t wait to hear from you!