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In California, all of our friends thought we were crazy because we built a chicken coop in the backyard. Let me remind you, we are talking about the suburbs of California where your house feels like it’s only ten feet from your neighbors. Those four chickens quickly turned into ten and all of our family and friends loved getting fresh eggs. Between building a chicken coop, going to school for Livestock Production and Management, and buying a pig (we’ll save that story for another post), Andrew’s dream of owning a farm started. I, of course, was on board right away.
Getting chickens for the first time was a lot of trial and error, but it became our hobby. Once Andrew got off work, he was always out there doing something to the coop. At one point, the neighbors called it the chicken palace. What we found out was, it will always be trial and error, so hopefully some of our errors will save you from making the same mistakes.
- Do not put your coop too close to your house and by too close I mean put it as far away as possible. Not really, but you get my point. There are two reasons for this. The first is once they get older, they are noisy, especially if you have a rooster. They will wake you and the baby up in the morning. You also don’t want your coop too close to your house because if they are free range like ours, then they will poop ALL OVER your front porch. We battled with this for a week. Every day my husband would hose of the porch and sure enough, the next day it was covered again. You don’t want this and you definitely don’t want chicken poop tracked in your house. You also want to make sure your coop is close enough to an electrical outlet that way you can plug in heating lamps. This is really important depending on where you live and while your chickens are small.
- Make sure it is on a flat area or on a hill. The first coop we made we didn’t realize that the ground was sloped a little bit. The first and only big rain we got in Southern California that year flooded our chicken coop. With that being said, you also want a pitched roof that way the water doesn’t sit on top of it or run off where you don’t want it to run off.
- Make sure you have plenty of roosts for your chickens. Chickens love to roost, especially at night and this is so important for their safety. By getting up high they are safer than if they were on the ground. A decent sized branch from a tree will work perfectly for a roost.
- Don’t go crazy with the nesting boxes. Once your chickens start laying, you will notice that they all like to lay in the same nesting box or maybe the same two nesting boxes. It isn’t like it is in the movies where each chicken has its own nesting box.
- The best waterer you can get is a five gallon bucket and poultry nipples. Hang the five gallon bucket from the top of your coop and drill holes in the bottom. Then, place the poultry nipples in the bottom. You want to have a couple that way more than one chicken can drink at a time. If you are going to have quite a few chickens, we recommend getting a few five gallon buckets. You will be surprised how fast they drink water!