The chicken of course! (I mean, why in the world would I build a coup without any chickens?)
Two and a half years ago, I stopped into Wilco to see if there were some “farm type” gifts I could pick up for Valentines Day. Wait….Just hear me out! I guess my strategy was that anything found at Wilco, would certainly be a Valentines Day surprise! So as I roamed the aisles looking for the perfect “I love you” gift, I heard this chirping sound down one of the aisles. Apparently every February, the farm stores bring in the new day old baby chicks! This was the perfect gift, plus the kids would definitely be excited…..so it was a bonus gift! Within a short 45 minutes, of picking out the perfect layers, I walked out of Wilco with a couple boxes of chickens (a full bakers dozen).
If you’ve ever spent much time around me, I’m the guy that starts a project without having all the steps figured out. This is both a strength and a weakness. (Probably leans more towards a weakness). I know myself well enough that if I just “get started”, then the research will be forced upon me! I didn’t even have a way to keep 13 chickens. I mean not only did I not have a henhouse, I didn’t even have a container to hold them in. (I started with a big box). So I left Wilco that day with chickens in hand and enough food to get them through the upcoming big day, (and a light to keep them warm).
So that’s how the journey started, 13 chickens and no way to keep them. I quickly realized I needed a better container than a box (one of them escaped and was never found), so I bought a cattle trough and a few other supplies to keep the cats out. The next step was to make sure I could build them a permanent home. The chicken masters at Wilco said I had 2 months before I would need to move them to a “better place”. After 2 months of working evenings and weekends, I finally got the chicken coup done (minus the nesting boxes). And it only cost me $1000! (Ok….maybe a little more if you actually keep track of everything).
So after the 8 weeks, the chickens finally had a bigger place to live (and no place to lay eggs!) I was also told at Wilco that chickens start laying eggs around 5 months old. After procrastinating for a few months, I finally got the nesting boxes completed. Craziest thing about the whole ordeal was that after I completed the boxes, a chicken laid an egg in the box the next day! So crazy to think they were just waiting for me to get the job done before they started laying.
If I can add any value to you for reading this blog, I’d say the most important thing to consider when raising chickens is to maximize the space you have in one “shed sized” chicken coup, you can just as easily raise 50 chickens as you can a dozen. (Recommend about 1 chicken per 2 square feet). And if you want any chance of “breaking even”, you’ll need to produce enough extra eggs to sell pretty fast. Preferably in a short enough time span to combat the nay sayers who argue the economics of buying eggs vs raising them. A couple small details: A Chickens will lay about 300 eggs a year (give or take depending on the breed). And they do have do have a maximum number they will lay in their lifetime. (You’ll get a few good years out of them before production drops off.)
Finally, I just need to say out loud that chickens are awesome! Many of our visitors come to see the big boys (Horse, donkey, cows, etc.) But it’s the chickens that are always the favorite. The kids love them! It’s probably because the rooster is always good for a few laughs. Plus there’s no worry about the kids getting trampled. (Maybe just pecked a few times!) LOL.