At the end of March this year, we picked up half a dozen baby chicks. I’ve never had chickens before, so this is new for me. I did a lot of reading beforehand to know the basics, and one of the people in our house grew up raising chickens, so we have the experience required to keep them happy and healthy.
When we first brought them home, I had a large rat cage that wasn’t being used, so we filled it with wood shavings, put food and water in, put a heat lamp on it, and wrapped 3 sides and the top with a blanket to keep the heat in. I kept them in my room to keep watch over them, and they flourished.
Now, we didn’t yet have a chicken coop set up in the yard but figured we had lots of time to set one up. We were going to do this as cost-effectively as possible. We had an old tin shed that wasn’t really being used, and it has some sturdy wooden shelves that had a lot of space for half a dozen chickens. We built a door to cover the front of the shelf, filled it with straw, and when the chicks were old enough, they went out to their new home. They were quite happy with all the room they suddenly had once they got used to it.
Our next step was to give them space to run and scratch and get fresh air. We did this during the week that they got used to their new coop and made it their home.
We had a bunch of 8-foot posts that we recycled into french posts. a couple of $25 rolls of chicken wire,
and we had our fence area. We had the yard space, so our chickens have an area that’s about 12 feet wide, by 25 feet long. We have a simple ramp up to the door of the coop and designed a sliding door that used our wood scraps.
Every day, we let the chickens out into the yard, and they enjoy the run. They’re absolutely hilarious to watch, especially when one of them finds an earthworm and starts screaming in terror as 5 other chickens start chasing her for it. They’re tame enough to pet and pick up when needed, but for the most part, we leave them alone and they work hard to clear the yard of insects. At the end of the day, when it gets dark, they go back into their coop on their own, and we go out and close the door for the night.
It cost us roughly $100 in materials total to build our coop, to buy the chicks, and to buy their food. For six chickens, we buy an $8 bag of feed once a month, and that seems to be it so far for costs. I’m sure that something will come up that’ll cost extra down the road, but so far, they’re doing quite well.
We’ll keep everyone updated as they grow and eventually start laying eggs.