Are you planning to adopt some chickens? If so, you’re in good company. Keeping backyard chickens has recently seen a major spike in popularity, but before you bring your chickens home, it’s important that you get everything prepared. Make sure you have these five items on hand before you get your first group of chickens so that you don’t have to scramble to the store every other day for supplies.
A Chicken Coop
Your chicken coop is the structure that your new birds will call home, and you’ll want to make sure yours is big enough not just for the number of birds you plan to get right now, but for a growing community – what seasoned owners call chicken math.
And, although there are all kinds of fancy chicken coops available for purchase, they’re really easy enough to build out of various scrap materials. Check out different sites to see how others are housing their chickens and you’re sure to discover all kinds of inspiration.
Inside your chicken coop, you’ll have hay and warming lights for the colder months, but you’ll also need nesting boxes for your hens to lay their eggs. As with your coop, though, you don’t have to invest in commercial nesting boxes because your birds aren’t fussy.
In fact, given that many people begin keeping backyard chickens in order to lead more eco-friendly lives, you can keep your backyard renovation sustainable by repurposing things you already have, such as drawers from old dressers or old milk crates you’ve got lying around. As long as they’re conveniently located and full of straw, your new chickens will be happy.
Do you know what chickens are supposed to eat? If you’re like a lot of people, you may assume they eat some kind of seed or maybe corn, at least based on what you see farmers in movies or on TV strewing on the ground.
In reality, though, chickens are natural foragers, so choose an age-appropriate starter chicken feed designed to resemble their natural diet. These foods typically include plant matter, along with protein from grubs, and they’re nutritionally balanced to make sure your chickens are as healthy as possible.
Just like every other animal, your chickens need access to water, but you want to make sure it’s provided safely. Especially if you have young chicks, avoid using a trough or other large open water source, as they can accidentally get into the water and get sick and die. Instead, choose a smaller container for water that’s kept slightly raised off the floor so that it stays clean. Many chickens like a simple saucer-like dish for water that they can stand on and drink from.
A Chicken Run
Once your chickens are a little older, they’ll need more space to explore, and many owners attach this to the coop area. Known as a chicken run, this enclosure is an area where your chickens can safely socialize and enjoy enrichment without worrying about predators. If you have limited space, your chicken can even be placed underneath the main coop.
In general, keeping chickens isn’t any more difficult than keeping other types of pets, such as a cat or a dog, but with the added advantage that they can help you with your gardening by providing manure and can be a regular source of fresh, delicious eggs.
Though there’s a learning curve with any new animal, with a little preparation, you’ll have a handle on caring for your backyard chickens in no time.