Our cost of living keeps going up – at $34 a kilo for cucumber and $10 for an Iceberg lettuce, even staple groceries are becoming increasingly unaffordable. Having your own chicken coop can help you side-step the price increases with organic, free-range eggs quite literally on your doorstep and an abundance of free chicken manure to fertilise your veggie garden forever on hand. Here are 8 tips to help you get started with your own henhouse and live a more sustainable, healthy, (and affordable) lifestyle.
1. Make space
You’ll have a hard time installing a henhouse in your already overcrowded backyard – the first step is, of course, finding enough space for your new coop. Turn your old unused shed into a home for the chickens, rehome the tired basketball hoop in the driveway, or reshuffle your outdoor entertainment area. Or, if a lifestyle block in the country beckons, get in touch with the First National Real Estate team, who can help you find your perfect hen patch match.
2. Provide shelter
To reap the rewards of having your own livestock, you need to care for them. Your chickens need adequate shelter and protection from every season – a controlled environment with good ventilation levels, moisture or heat, and protection from harsh winds. If your henhouse doesn’t protect your chickens, they’ll likely become distressed and stop laying eggs – so get your ducks (or chickens) in a row now to save distress down the track.
3. Get creative
You don’t need to fork out big bucks to set up your henhouse – go the extra mile with your sustainable lifestyle and create your own from recycled materials. Old crates, shelves or an unused shed will do the trick; just make sure they’re fit to provide the shelter and warmth your chickens need to thrive.
4. Protect from pests
You don’t want to slave away on building your coop with no return from your chickens. They’ll produce more eggs when they feel safe and calm. Make their space cosy and secure to protect the chickens from predators like cats, dogs, and rats. For extra protection against unwanted guests, invest in some chicken wiring to put up around the coop.
5. Choose your breed carefully
Like humans, some chickens love the cooler weather, some prefer the heat, and some thrive in either. Do your research before buying your hens – if you live in the northern parts of the country, you don’t want to end up with hens that flourish in cooler climates.
6. Boost the vitamin D (Or the LED)
Although some chickens prefer chilly temperatures, they all need 14-15 hours of light every day to lay well. To get through the darker months, install an LED wavelength light in your coop. Putting this on a timer will give your hens the light they need without sacrificing sustainability.
7. Don’t forget the bedding
If you want to raise eco-friendly hens, choose litter materials that are also kind to the planet – organic straw, sawdust from a local sawmill, or dried leaves from your neighbour’s backyard are all wonderful, easy-to-access materials your hens and the planet will love.
8. It takes food to make food
Your chickens need food to make food, and there are plenty of options that don’t produce excess waste. Grow your own or source from reputable companies, and for a double win, you can occasionally feed them your food scraps to save the extra rubbish bags.
Raise your own hens and reap the rewards
Installing your own henhouse comes with great rewards – you’ll become more self-sufficient, learn a fun new hobby, and save pennies at the supermarket. Want to get started but don’t have the space? Contact your local First National Real Estate office to find your new dream home and turn your eggy dreams into a reality.