I Dream of… Chickens!

I can’t wait until we buy our first house with a yard, because in addition to a few nice raised beds for fruits and veggies, I’d also like to have a couple of chickens. In addition to having them as family pets, there are few clear benefits from keeping them– eggs daily, fertilizer for the garden, and natural pest control. Most major urban areas allow each family to have at least a few laying hens. For example, Chicago places no limit on the number of hens you can own, and Portland, Oregon allows three without a livestock permit. Each city code contains this information, and the website for The City Chicken http://home.centurytel.net/thecitychicken/index.html has a listing of what’s allowed for most major cities in the United States. It’s also a good resource on chicken info. Another good info source is www.backyardchickens.com. I’d just like to own two hens, preferably either Rhode Island Red bantams or Americauna bantams. The Rhode Islands have gorgeous brick red feathers, while the Americaunas lay eggs that are green or blue. Bantam chickens are smaller than standard chickens, which make them especially well-suited to city living. Small breed chickens will need about six square feet of space each in order to be happy and healthy. I really like the Omlet Eglu chicken tractor, but they are pricey– they cost over $700. That seems like quite a lot of money to spend on chickens. So I’d like to build my own small coop of wood and chicken wire. I’d like it to be five feet square and three feet tall, with a door in the front leading to wire chicken run, fifteen feet long by five feet wide. The floor to the coop will be a two inch deep tray that slides out of a slot at the rear of coop so it can be pulled out for cleaning. The bottom of the tray will be tiled in linoleum for easy cleaning, and a layer of compostable bedding material will be laid down inside the coop. On the inside back wall of the coop will be three nesting boxes. In the front above the door will be a dowel for roosting. There will be a screened window in the side (with a glass “storm window” covering for winter months) to let in fresh air and light. The roof of the coop will be hinged so that it can lift off for easy access for egg collection and cleaning. I’m debating on whether or not to put the whole affair on wheels so that it can be moved about the yard easily. I think even without wheels, it would be relatively easy to reposition because of it’s small size. So with all that planned out, now I have a few years to go dreaming about my someday flock of chickens…

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