Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Chicken housing solutions

Chickens are easy to keep, but they don’t live in the house with you like a dog or cat. Housing them doesn’t have to be complex or difficult, though.

The crucial aspects are security, access to food and water and cleanliness. Chickens are prey animals and word will soon spread through the raccoon, opossum and coyote community that you are keeping chickens in your yard. They can be amazingly strong and persistent in their attempts to break into your coop.

Chickens love fresh green and insects, so access to the yard is good for them. A portable coop that can be moved around the yard, letting them peck and scratch in new territory without destroying the yard, is a way to meet their needs and fertilize the grass. Make it easy for the keeper, whether you or your children, to gain access to the food and water. Chickens can get sick from rotten grain and may refuse to drink dirty water.

Moving the pen around the yard can mean the difference between fertilizing the grass and creating a smelly nuisance. If you don’t want a movable pen, make it easy to clean. This chore doesn’t have to be unpleasant. Many chicken keepers enjoy the quiet time they spend with their birds. Have a plan for the manure that meets local regulations. Composting it makes great fertilizer.

The Eglu, http://www.omlet.co.uk/homepage/homepage.php, offers a complete one-step solution. You can even buy it complete with chickens, supplied by McMurray Hatchery, http://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/, an established rare breed hatchery and member of the Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities.

This month’s issue of Mother Earth News has plans for a portable backyard mini-coop you can build yourself, https://www.motherearthnews.com/DIY/2007-04-01/Portable-Chicken-Mini-coop-Plan.aspx.

Feathersite.com has a section of chicken coop plans. If none of these work for you, contact me and we’ll find a plan that meets your needs.

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