I remember the days of my childhood back before video games and cell phones and being able to buy anything under the sun even from other countries thanks to commerce and the Internet. The memory I loved the most though is still helping my grandparents with the chickens.
We had several fowl, chickens, pheasants , quail, turkeys, there was even two ducks that waddled around before getting served on the plate. My job was mainly feeding, watering, and collecting eggs. I loved carrying the wire basket around plucking up the warm eggs from the nests and knowing that there would be fresh eggs cooked up later.
Now some 20 years later all of a sudden I am seeing chicken coops popping up in backyards. Not only are they functional but many of them are actually adorable in design and add to the rustic decor of the yard. While we both collected eggs and ate our chickens it appears most people are rearing their hens for the eggs alone.
Now one has to wonder about the cost of this. Building a good chicken coop is no mean feat and it can run up into the 100‘s of dollars in labor and materials. Then there’s the bedding, playground sand is a cheap alternative but most people don’t realize their chicks must have their bedding raked regularly. Not only do chicks go to the bathroom enthusiastically on the ground they also use their food and water dish which must be changed. Then of course there’s feed to be bought, feeders, incubators if you intend to raise your own chickens as well as make use of the eggs.
All of this together seems like an awful lot doesn’t it for a few eggs and a chicken that’ let’s be honest, most people wouldn’t have the guts or know how to slaughter and dress for a meal? However there are some benefits to this. If you don’t wish to eat your chickens then once grown certain breeds can produce 259 eggs a year! Now I myself don’t eat eggs a lot and usually only remember them when I have the hankering to make brownies. So I would actually save myself some trouble of leftover eggs by only using the ones I need and allowing the hen to hatch the others if she can.
Chicks however would need to be sold and I would have to be sure to line a buyer for this. It can be very easy to get over run with chickens. So if you don’t intend to eat any of your chickens try to keep your fowl population under control.
Check your state and housing zone rules. Some places do not allow chicken coops at all due to noise and also the stench that a poorly aired chicken coop can produce. These can be found online or by checking with your local county building.
There are 100‘s of different chickens out there. Some like the silkie don’t even have feathers but are instead covered with lush fur. If your goal is to collect eggs you will need to research the breeds and decide which on is best for you. This is a very handy chart which not only talks about chickens breeds but lists whether or not they are good layers. http://www.mypetchicken.com/chicken-breeds/breed-list.aspx
A side effect that most people don’t realize in keeping chickens is they are actually very sociable if handled from young chicks. Indeed they can look forward to seeing you and will run to greet you clucking. When I was a girl we had each had out favorite chicken the one that was ‘ safe ‘ from the pot. Mine was a little scrawny rooster who would wait until I was done feeding and watering and collecting and then I would sit on a little stool and he would hop up on my lap and eat out of my hand making his cute little chicken noises.
I hope this gives you a pause to think about getting a chicken coop. Free range laying organic eggs are usually even better if you know where they come from and there is something to be said for collecting your own eggs.
These are some wonderful websites to get you started;
Everything you could possibly need to get started is right here as well as a wonderful forum for any questions you have; http://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/2/Coops
Lovely coop designs as well as practical advice for building your own coop; http://www.williams-sonoma.com/shop/agrarian-garden/agrarian-garden-chi…
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