After much deliberation (I hope) you’re moving forward with getting chickens. Yay! Welcome to the club. But now what?
First and foremost, they need a safe place to sleep, scratch and lay eggs. It’s a scientific fact* that happy chickens lay more eggs. And they’re more fun and less inclined to pick on each other. So – chicken house. Let’s start small and explore chicken houses for two chickens. Please don’t ever get just one chicken – they are flock animals and need at least one other girlfriend in order to thrive.
Each chicken needs at least two square feet to herself, so she doesn’t feel crowded and can spread her wings. That’s tight, so do make sure they get to come out and hunt for bugs at some point every day if you go that small. Better yet – build a fenced in yard for them.
BUILDING a coop is always an option – it used to be the only option. There are many sites online with free or cheap plans for building a coop. Our first coop was an A-frame chicken tractor for the two girls we got. A ‘tractor’ in the chicken world means that there is no floor – you can move it around so they have new grass or dirt to peck every day. Or every week. The benefits here is that you control where they fertilize – we built the tractor the size of our raised veggie beds and they tilled the soil for us between crops.
REPURPOSING a dog house or a playhouse is also an option – just make sure it’s predator-proof and easy to clean. We’ve used a large dog crate to house a sick chicken many times.
PURCHASING a small coop has become easier since the chicken craze is exploding. From plastic “eglus” to fancy custom housing, the options are almost endless. I heard of a woman in New York state who insulated and heated her chicken house for winter. She even put a TV in the coop so they would have company.
Enjoy your own chicken-homing process. And congratulations!
*It probably is – just don’t have the data to back this up.