Chickens can be a great source of entertainment for a family. Many people are now choosing to raise their own chickens in their backyard. They benefit from having a regular supply of fresh eggs and, unless they get too attached to the birds, having a source of additive-free meat when required.
Chickens are not that labour intensive. They will not need as much attention as a pet like a dog would. Also, they will eat almost anything, so will help cut down on the cost of disposing of organic waste. Once you invest in a flock, you will soon start to see individual characteristics amongst the flock. If you have breeding hens, the sight of the tiny fluffy chicks will no doubt warm your heart.
There are many options available to people who want to build a chicken coop. Ther are ready-made wooden and plastic chicken coops available, or you can find plans on how to build a chicken coop yourself online or in specialist books. However, the chicken coop has to be the right size for both your living space and the size of flock you wish to rear. If you only have a limited amount of space, you will have to keep your flock an appropriate size for the chicken coop. Overcrowding will distress the birds and cause health problems. It will also discourage them from laying eggs.
A chicken coop will need nesting boxes for the birds to lay their eggs in. These should be constructed to prevent eggs and straw from being pushed out over the edges. Chickens will also need perches to sleep on. These are high ledges, around 10 inches wide, which should provide enough space for the entire flock to roost comfortably.
You will also need a chicken run attached to the coop. This is an outdoor area where the chickens can run around freely, scratch and peck for insects. If you fence in the chicken run, it will provide an added protection against predators and keep your chickens in one area. Remember to sink the fence into the ground to a depth of around one foot. This will prevent dogs, cats, foxes etc from digging underneath to get at the hens.
The chicken coop will need to be well-aired. Chickens need fresh air, just as any other animal does. Good ventilation will also remove any odors from the chicken coop and stop dampness building up inside. Remember to also include a door that will allow you access to the chicken coop so you can collect the eggs and clean inside without hindrance. Doors and windows that are easy to close and lock will not only protect your chickens from animal predators but also from being stolen by human beings.
Planning and building a chicken coop may take some time and effort, but you will soon reap the rewards when you have a ready supply of tasty and healthy eggs and meat, and all from your own backyard!