What Are the Advantages of Having Your Own Chicken Coop?

by admin on July 9, 2012

There are many advantages to owning your own chickens.  Farm fresh eggs are healthier, tastier, and readily available from your own back yard.  Meat birds are fast growing, take little space to raise and are fairly inexpensive for the resulting outcome in food production.  Raising your own chickens means you get to decide what goes into the making of the final product.

For example; mass produced poultry are fed hormones, antibiotics and growth enhancers that you may not care to have in the food that you ingest.  Large egg production factories often lock their chickens in tiny cages to save space. These chickens lay two or three times a day as they are kept in light and in front of feed for 24 hours daily.  Unfortunately, their egg production drops due to stress after a period of 3-6 months and they are then sent to be butchered.

Layers are also fed antibiotics and production hormones so when you eat store bought eggs you may be getting more than you bargained for and in this case that is not a good thing.  The first thing to do after deciding to raise you own chickens is to design a coup that will fit the needs of your particular flock.

Chickens are fairly easy creatures to take care of as long as they have a proper living situation. Food, water and a well ventilated shelter are your main concerns.  Whether you plan on raising meat birds or layers, housing of some kind is essential. A chicken with enough space and an appropriate living environment will be much healthier, and happier and therefore experience a longer productive cycle. The difference between  store bought eggs and cage free eggs is amazing.

Cage free birds lay eggs that are richer tasting because they come from healthier birds that are fed a diet higher in protein. Being allowed to graze freely they will eat an assortment of grains, greens and high protein bugs.  Production factories wash and bleach their eggs prior to store delivery.  Because egg shells are porous this can affect the flavor of the eggs.  Home grown eggs are free of this detrimental contaminate.  If you are considering owning your own chickens you may be wondering what they cost to maintain and whether the benefit is worth the cost.

The Cost

Chicken feed ranges in price from 5-12 dollars a bag, depending on where you live and the size of the bag. A fifty pound bag should feed 20 chickens for one month. Chickens will gather their own grit if allowed to graze in a natural environment. Chickens that are kept full time in an enclosure will need grit added to their diet but the cost is minimal one bag will last several months.

Scratch grain is an option not a necessity but it will effect the color and taste of your eggs. It can be added to the feed in a ratio of 3 parts feed to 1 part scratch or it can be scattered on the ground of the chicken yard.  This allows the chicken to scratch and peck to their hearts content while causing the hens to turn over the floor of the chicken yard resulting in a healthier environment. Scratch grain or cracked corn can be purchased for 6-12 dollars per 50 lbs. Another benefit of having chicken is that you can slop them, much like you would slop a pig.

Chickens will eat anything that you are thinking of throwing out of your refrigerator. Leftovers that are just past what is safe for you to eat are perfect for your chickens.  Molding bread, leftover corn, salad or fresh veggies that have gone soft, watermelon rinds or pastas are all palatable to the average chicken.  Be careful, raw potatoes are poisonous to chickens. After peeling potatoes you must cook them before giving them to your chickens. Also be aware that rotten meats can be smelled from miles away and may attract unwanted predators. This brings the monthly total cost for 20 chickens to around 14-15 dollars.

The Benefit

Layers will begin to lay around 6th months of age and will lay daily for the first year.  At this time they will go through a molt where they will shed most of their feathers and laying will be postponed for about six weeks.  You may choose to cull your flock and start over. Another option is to wait six weeks for the feathers to grow back and egg production to begin again. After their first molt, the average layer hen lays once every other day.

In a month a healthy hen should lay about 16 eggs. That is approximately 580 eggs (48 dozen) per month from 20 hens. At 2 dollars per dozen 48 dozen eggs would bring about 96 dollars a month yielding 81 dollars profit. Not only that, but owning your own hens eliminates the need to purchase eggs and is a much healthier option than store bought eggs. It is easy to see the appeal of raising your own flock.

Is it ok if you make your own chicken coop? 

Of Course! Making your own coop is a great idea. It gives you the ability to customize the coop to your own specific needs. You will need to find out if there are any specific restrictions in the area that you live before you build your own coop. You should also plan your coop according to the size and type of flock you intend to raise.

For example meat birds are bigger and need more space than layers or show chickens and breeders will need more nesting space and better insulation. You should pick a location for your coop that has enough space for the coop building itself, and an outdoor chicken yard. You may also want to include a separate area that is outdoors but is completely enclosed like a screened in porch. This is good protection against air born predators like chicken hawks or eagles.

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