Have you bought eggs lately? You don’t have to hand over an arm and a leg to have an omelet. You can do things the old-fashioned way and raise some chickens. It may feel like a lot of work, but we can help make it easier with our chicken coop checklist.
Important: Make sure you can raise chickens on your property based on local laws and ordinances. Some regulations don’t allow roosters, so make sure you can before you buy.
When raising chickens, you’re going to start off with chicks or eggs. If you’re starting with eggs, you’ll need an incubator, but if you buy a flock of chicks, you’ll start with a brooder. A brooder is a heated shelter for chicks to keep them safe and healthy as they develop. This developmental stage can range from 3-8 weeks. Once they mature, they will need a place to roam as they graduate to a chicken coop. Learn more here.
Incubators & Hatchers
Incubators are key for raising new chicks. They keep your eggs at the right temperature and humidity for proper development. When incubating eggs, you need to turn them every 4 hours or so. Adding an egg turner to your incubator is highly recommended.
Once your chickens develop, you’ll need to move them to a chicken coop. Find some space to put your chicken coop in your yard and put wire fencing around it, to give them room to roam outside of the coop, as well as protect them from predators. There are tons of ways to DIY your coop’s defense system from coyotes and racoons.
There are several types of chicken feeders that work for your flock, whichever size it may be. If you’re starting with chicks, you can use the Little Giant 8-hole chick feeder, which is perfect for growing birds.
For larger and adult chickens, you may want to use larger feeders so each chicken is fed properly. Larger feeders come in many varieties for your flock’s needs. Hanging feeders work well for adult chickens and give your birds more space in the coop. Other feeders like flip top poultry feeders allow for a dozen or two chickens at once. Trough feeding systems are also helpful for efficient poultry feeding.
There are also two main differences between feeders. There are feeders made of plastic and metal, also known as galvanized feeders. Everybody has an opinion on which is easier to clean and which lasts longer, so ask your friends or try out both to see which works better for your needs.
Once you have their house and home all set up, it’s time to buy the feed. There are a lot of options for chicken feed, so don’t be nervous if it is a little intimidating at first. The chick starter chicken feed is a special crumble feed for younger birds, and as your flock grows, it’s good to have this on hand.
Poultry layers are another recommended chicken feed for egg-laying hens. We carry several trusted brands of chicken feed from brands like Sprout, Nutrena, and Kent that you can try.
You may want to buy some grit to go with your poultry feed. Since chickens don’t have teeth, adding some grit to their diet can help them digest food, especially if it’s new to them.
Giving your chickens little treats keeps them fed and happy. Chicken treats include mealworms, bug larvae, and fruit scraps like cut up grapes and such.
Keeping several waterers around your coop can help your chickens stay hydrated, especially in the summer. Keeping a waterer every 3 sq. feet is a rule of thumb to follow. Waterers come in several sizes for your flock’s needs. Take a look at some hanging and standing waterers.
Raising them from eggs or chicks takes time. You’ll need them to reach 18-22 weeks for chicks to mature into egg-laying hens. Nesting pads and boxes are very helpful at keeping your chickens comfortable while they lay eggs. Plus, you’ll know exactly where to look to find fresh eggs in the morning.
Once your hens start laying eggs, you’ll need a way to collect them. Grab some egg cartons and egg baskets to bring those fresh eggs inside for a delicious breakfast.
Other helpful items for your coop are heated perches to keep them warm in winter. It’s important to remember that space heaters are unnecessary and can cause fires. Use coop-approved heating elements only. An automatic chicken coop door opener can let your chickens come and go on a timer, so you don’t have to worry about letting them out while you’re at work.