Are you considering a backyard coop?
Raising your own chickens can be rewarding. Aside from hours of chicken watching fun – you get fresh, organic eggs every day, and compost for the garden. We are considering the addition of chickens to our yard again and since it’s been a few years I thought I would brush up on my chicken knowledge.
One of the biggest problems with the industrial farming of chickens for eggs or meat is that the methods employed do not honor many of their needs and behaviors. For example, overcrowding goes against the inherent nature of chickens and requires de-beaking to keep them from inflicting great harm on one another.
Take a Holistic Approach
Of course, when raising backyard chickens you’ll provide your ladies with plenty of space, but they have other needs you’ll need to fulfill and behaviors to manage. The image below is adapted from a well-known illustration used by permaculturists around the world to explain the concept of holistic design. The illustration originally appeared in Introduction to Permaculture (1991), written by permaculture co-founder Bill Mollison with Reny Mia Slay.
From a holistic perspective, a chicken is more than an egg machine or a feathery bag of meat. Holistic chicken keeping allows you to maximize the benefits of a home flock while minimizing potential problems. Brush up on raising chickens with this post – Raising Chickens 101 fromMamKautz.
Chicken Coop Ideas
You need to have a home for those lady’s and the next decision centers around the provision of outdoor space. While the term “free range” is popular, hens ranging freely around your yard can cause some problems.
// Damage to vegetable gardens and flower beds
// A big mess in the yard
// Leaves them open to predators.
You can still have “free range” birds by building a designated chicken run or, better yet, two. They will love it when you give them grass clippings, pulled weeds and vegetable food scraps.
Timber Creek Farm has some great ideas for chicken coop security barriers and how to make a chicken coop from a garden shed. Janet has a new book – Chickens from Scratch: Raising Your Own Chickens from Hatch to Egg Laying and Beyond
The advantages of this method involve both ends of the bird.
In terms of the front end, chickens that eat fresh grass and herbs from your lawn require you to purchase less feed, and they are likely to be healthier due to a constant diet of fresh greens.
In terms of the back end, moving the tractor daily or weekly means that manure is never allowed to build up in one place, and the chickens’ health is protected because they are not living for long periods among their own droppings.
The Floyd Family Homestead has detailed instructions for building a chicken tractor.
DIY Chicken Feed
Regular feed can get expensive. Learn a few ways to reduce (or eliminate) commercially prepared feed with these posts.
Homemade Poultry Feed – soy free from Livin Lovin Farmin.
One Acre Farm is Creating a Chicken Habitat .
The Easy Homestead is Fermenting Feed.
and Oh! Lardy is growing fodder to feed chickens.
Be sure and check out the other fun chicken things I put on our Pinterest Board: Homesteading: Chickens & Coops.