Why You Need the Right Plans for Building a Great Chicken Coop
Are plans for a chicken coop in your future? Keeping chickens is one of the most popular new trends to emerge in recent years, even for city dwellers (check your local zoning ordinances). Wonder if this is right for you? Here are some of the many reasons why people are keeping chickens:
- Self-sufficiency: You don’t have to be a survivalist preparing for the collapse of the world economy to be interested in producing your own food. Food prices have soared in recent years, while family income has stagnated or dropped due to the recession. You can cut corners all you want, but people need to eat. As a result, people have become more interested in producing their own food. “Victory Gardens” have made a strong comeback, and eggs are the natural next step in home food production.
- Health reasons: Eggs used be on naughty list for heart health, but more recent studies show that egg consumption does not lead to heart disease, and may even improve cholesterol levels. Eggs are a good source of many nutrients including lutein, zeaxanthin, choline, vitamins, good fats, and studies show that they may prevent blood clots, stroke, heart attacks, eye disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancers. Raising your own chickens helps you take full advantage of the health benefits. Compared to store bought eggs, eggs from your own chickens will have a whole lot more of the good stuff (vitamins A, D, and E, beta carotene, omega-3 fatty acids) and a whole lot less of the bad stuff (cholesterol and saturated fat.)
- Environmental concerns: Producing your own food is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. You eliminate the need for the energy that would have gone into transporting those eggs and refrigerating them for a long period of time. Chickens can also help control weeds and insects without harmful chemicals, and their manure can be used as a natural fertilizer. Chickens can also help you reduce waste because they can eat various table scraps and various types of garden waste.
- Bio-diversity: Commercial egg farms tend to keep only one kind of chicken. Keeping a variety of heritage breeds chickens helps preserve the strengths of the chicken gene pool which could help the species survive pandemic diseases and climate change.
- Ethical concerns: Many people find the treatment of chickens at commercial farms unethical and upsetting, and they are further discouraged when claims of “free range” turn out to be little more than marketing gimmicks. When you raise your own chickens, you know they are treated well.
- Taste: Eggs from your own chickens taste better. This is because store-bought eggs can be up to 45 days old by the time they hit your plate, and fresh eggs taste much better. Commercial eggs also don’t taste as good because industrial feed is often not as nutritious as what you would feed your own chickens especially when you consider the variety of nutrients in the scraps that you might be giving them to supplement their feed.
- Chickens look cool: Anyone who has ever visited the chicken barn at a county fair knows the amazing beauty and variety of chicken breeds. Raising your own chickens can be like having works of art wandering around your back yard.
- Chickens are fun: Chickens have different personalities and endearing behaviors and it is fun to watch them communicate and interact with each other. Some chickens can also be taught tricks.
Convinced? Then one of your biggest considerations will be the chicken coop. It is essential that the chicken coop be properly constructed to keep the chickens safe from predators and the elements. Your coop will need nesting boxes and perches, and it must provide enough space, insulation and ventilation to keep your chickens healthy. Your chicken coop can be simply functional, or it can be a fun work of art. You might want to build your own coop, but even if you are an experienced carpenter, you should acquire a good set of plans as at least a starting point for your creation. This will ensure that you aren’t wasting materials and that you will be building a coop that will not only meet the needs of your chickens, but will make it easier for you to collect the eggs and keep the coop clean. An attractive, well-designed coop is the starting point for a truly enjoyable experience raising your own chickens.