Welcome to our Backyard Homesteading Series!
There is nothing like the taste of fresh, free-range brown eggs. They are richer, fresher, and just give food an overall better quality taste. This is why our family raised egg-laying hens for three years. While we currently do not have any hens, we are planning on adding more very soon!
Raising hens is not always possible depending on where you live and zoning laws. However, if you do live in an area where you can raise hens, please know that they are a lot of work and require daily care. Just like dairy farmers have to milk cows everyday, hens have daily care and maintenance as well.
There are many things to consider when adding hens to your backyard homestead.
Size and location. First, you will need to decide on a size and location for your coop. You will also need to purchase materials, and possibly plans. My father-in-law felt that ChickenCoop.org was the best site for learning how to build a chicken coop. He used that site to modify the plans for his own chicken coop (shown above).
Costs. Also, there will be daily costs associated with raising hens, which is why we chose to sell some of our eggs for profit. Since we could not eat the eggs as fast as they were produced with 8 hens, we were able to use the money from the eggs we sold to purchase their feed, the hay/straw, and other supplies we needed.
Protection. First, my father-in-law build the chicken coop. He also added an electric fenced area to the bottom to keep other animals from eating the chickens, so please note that the hens were never harmed by the electrical fence, because it was outside of their area.
Space. Because our chickens were free range, there was a ladder that came down from inside the coop to the area below. This gave the chickens range to move and peck for food. As you can see from the picture below, they also had another area to go and peck with the second fenced in section. There were also times where we put them out in a gated area to hunt and peck freely. Right now we’re storing the extra rain barrels in that second pecking area!
Smell/ventilation. Another word about chickens…they don’t smell the best. They also need proper lighting and ventilation, and the chicken coops will need to be cleaned out. This is not the world’s most exciting job! It helps to build a coop with some windows as well for proper ventilation.
Portability. Since our eggs were free range, we needed portability so that they could be moved to new pecking areas. Also, we kept them in the shade in the hot summer months. This helped with the smell, obviously, as well.
Lighting. You will need proper lighting inside the coop to be able to see what you are doing. It also helps at night if there are predators to be able to have lighting inside as well. However, this is not as mandatory as the other factors we’ve discussed.
Comment below and let us know if you decide to start raising your own backyard chickens! We’d love to hear from you!
Backyard Chickens for Beginners: Getting the Best Chickens, Choosing Coops, Feeding and Care, and Beating City Chicken Laws (Booklet)
Backyard Chickens: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Raising Chickens, Selecting Chicken Coops, And Excellent Chicken Care, Giving You A Natural, Round-The-Clock Egg Factory
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