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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Still Learning with Chickens

I've said it before and I'll say it again: there's always more to learn about raising chickens.

Recently, a friend of mine called to ask some important questions about raising chickens. That reminded me of all I've learned in the past year or more, but also about the importance of educating oneself before taking the plunge. This is not one of those things to jump into blindly or spontaneously!

The way I looked at it, chickens are a long-term commitment and I wanted to do things right the first time. For me, this meant no little tiny chicken coop that we could only access from the outside. I didn't want a chicken house that was difficult to keep clean, or one that would be too small if we ever decided to increase our flock to our zoning's limit. And since our winter's are bitter cold, I knew we'd need to build a coop big enough to include plenty of insulation. And yet, we didn't have hundreds of dollars to spend on a large coop.

So, long before we started building (a daunting project, since we'd never done anything like it), I spoke with other chicken owners, researched the topic online, and purchased and read a book on building coops and a book on raising chickens. I've written about this previously, here. I also wrote about our coop construction, complete with progressive pictures, here. It can be a long process, but I'm so glad we went about things the way we did.

This past weekend, I added another nest box to our coop, something I really didn't think I'd have to do, since we currently only have four chickens and technically should only need one nest box. But I discovered last week that our hens were essentially fighting over the box and that that was one big reason why egg production has recently decreased. I guess right now our chickens figure if they don't get their turn in there--by themselves--they just won't lay. We're crossing our fingers that the addition of the second nest box will alleviate the congestion from all the traffic to the old nest box enough that everyone will have the space and the time they need.

As in all things chicken related, time will tell...

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