Backyard Chickens Update

Our girls are really growing!

[caption id="attachment_726" align="aligncenter" width="169" caption="Our big Barred Rock"][/caption]

They are a lot of fun and I'm really looking forward to fresh eggs. But are they worth it? It depends.

Here are my initial thoughts:

Keeping chickens is more expensive than I thought. Chicken coops are pricey. And kind of stupid. For some reason, here in the U.S. we think that chicken coops need to be all cutesy and country. But in other countries (U.K. for example) their coops are...smarter...and plastic. They aren't necessarily pretty, but they make so much more sense. If you live somewhere that requires a posh up your $$ for a bit. And start with just a few chickens. 2-5. The more chickens you have, the bigger the coop needs to be, and therefore, the more money you will be spending.

Chickens are really messy. They are birds, after all. They are pretty and can be very friendly...even pet-like. But don't let that fool you! They poop constantly! Runny bird poop. Everywhere. They poop in their food and water and bedding and EVERYWHERE. Your $$ coop? Covered in poop. Inside and out. You want free-range? You'll want a good-sized yard or a large penned-in area. Or plan on always wearing shoes outdoors (which we do) never just plopping down in your yard (which we don't) and taking off shoes at the front door (always). Yeah, they are cute, but so gross! Definitely something to keep in mind!

Chickens have lots of enemies. Foxes, stray dogs, racoons, opossum...and if ground predators weren't enough, how about some aerial excitement? Hawks like chicken dinners, too, and have been known to swoop down and scoop them right up. That's the stuff nightmares are made of!

The best solution to these problems is to buy/build a chicken tractor or moveable coop. Nothing crazy, but just so you can shimmy it one space away at a time. It will give the chickens protection, fresh bugs and greens, and will keep their space cleaner. Oh, and it will allow them constant access to shade and nesting boxes. Kind of the best of everything! (be sure it has a solid door between the coop and the run to offer your brood ultimate protection)

I think the best way to cut costs in the coop department is to cobble something together yourself. Make use of a child's play house that is no longer needed. Or modify a dog house (way cheaper per square foot, go figure). Or keep your eyes peeled on Craigslist! Be sure to peruse lots of coop plans to get an idea of what features your coop needs to keep your girls happy and protected. As soon as we have our coop completely finished I'll upload pictures. It's not as fancy-schmancy as I would have liked, but it's far cheaper that what we could have paid!

I have a lot of thoughts about chicken food, too, but it's late so that will need to be another post. :)


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