Nothing says “local” like a backyard chicken coop. If you’re a seasoned locavore with a thriving organic garden, it’s time to expand your know-how. In addition to growing your own organic produce, you can collect farm fresh eggs from your own backyard. From building a chicken coop to raising a healthy flock, here is our guide to keeping backyard chickens.
Benefits Of Raising Backyard Chickens
The humble egg packs a powerful punch. Studies show that organic eggs contain higher levels of vitamins A, D and E, as well as more omega-3 fatty acids and beta-carotene than conventional eggs. Additionally, all-natural eggs contain less cholesterol and saturated fat, making them a healthier option for your favorite egg recipes. Crack a farm fresh egg open and admire its vibrant yolk: a sign of a healthy and happy hen.
Backyard chickens are also fantastic composters for kitchen scraps. Chicken waste is incredibly nutrient-rich, making it one of the best natural fertilizers for your garden. High in potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus, chicken manure contains the essential vitamins and minerals for your organic produce to flourish. Simply add chicken waste to your compost to take advantage of its many benefits.
3 Chicken Coop Necessities
Whether you have a simple hen home or deluxe chicken palace in mind, every backyard chicken coop shares a few common features:
Keep your backyard brood happy with a chicken run. This outdoor enclosure provides space for your flock to roam. The run should allow for at least four square feet of space per chicken.
A roost is a horizontal perch where your flock sleeps. Chickens prefer to sleep high up and huddled closely: as sound sleepers, this keeps them safe from predators. They also abide by a literal pecking order; to avoid conflict, you should position roosts at the same height.
The average hen will lay one to two eggs daily – and a happy hen lays healthy eggs. To ensure your hens are comfortable, equip your coop with one nesting box per three chickens. Each nesting box should be at least four inches deep and lined with an insulating material like straw so eggs are kept warm and safe.
How To Build A Backyard Chicken Coop
Armed with the essentials, you’re ready to build a chicken coop. Follow these steps to keep your DIY project on track:
Check Local Bylaws
Before diving in, consult your local bylaws to ensure backyard chickens are permitted in your area. Rules and regulations vary from city to city, but most allow a flock of three to six hens and no roosters.
Determine Coop Size
The size of your coop will depend on the number of chickens in your flock. Each chicken requires at least four feet of space within the coop. For three chickens, you will need a coop that measures 12 square feet.
Choose your construction materials wisely. On the Eminence Certified Organic Farm, our chicken coop is made of straw and clay. The straw interior insulates warmth during the Hungarian winter, and the clay exterior reflects the sun’s rays during summer months. For your own coop, cedar is recommended for its all-weather durability.
Select Chicken Coop Plan
Chicken coops come in all shapes and sizes. There are plenty of resources available to help you select the design that best fits your flock’s needs. Visit your local library or research online to find plans suited to your level of construction expertise. WikiHow, Modern Farmer and HGTV provide excellent step-by-step guides to constructing basic chicken coops. Take a peek at our very own chicken coop for inspiration!
Now that you have your plans and materials, it’s time to start building Depending on the design you choose, construction could be an easy weekend project or more complex undertaking spanning several weeks. All said and done, your chickens will be equipped with a solid and safe home right in your own backyard.
Do you have experience raising chickens? We’d love to hear about it! Share your thoughts in the comments below and join the conversation on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | G+.