Egg Farming

My New Garden Project for 2011 is almost complete!  I’m working on improving my food security, and to that end I decided a few chickens would be just the ticket, providing my family with fresh eggs and manure for my garden.  The chicks have just been relocated to their new home, having outgrown the Rubbermaid tote they were living in until now.

Chicks in a tote

Because I was determined to build my chicken coop using as much recycled material as possible, and my husband was adamant that it not be an eyesore, much of the construction work fell to him.  Good thing he’s handy!

Bunk bed with a view

The frame of our coop used to be my son’s bunk bed, which was itself a homemade piece that we bought secondhand many years ago.  Does that mean it’s re-recycled?  The lovely window we found at our local re-store, it looks like it came from someone’s kitchen remodel.

Looking like a henhouse

It took eleven people – thanks neighbours and friends – to carry the henhouse out of the garage to its home against the back fence.

Thanks for the lift, everybody!

We have wired the run with ½” poultry wire, dug well into the soil to deter predators, because we have rats, raccoons, and mink who all love to eat eggs and/or chickens!  Hopefully they’ll be safe locked in the coop at night…

My lovely little henhouse, complete with window box!

I found an excellent source of information at Backyard Chickens.  Even though we kept a largish flock when I was a kid, I wanted to refresh my knowledge and learn about poultry keeping on a smaller scale.  This site contains everything you need to know and more!

They're pretty cute when they're little...

I bought day-old chicks from a local producer.  They are hybrid, sex-linked pullets.  That way I know that I have all girls, as I promised the neighbours no roosters!  I have 3 Cinnamon Queens and 3 Red Rocks.  Despite warning my daughter that they were not to be considered pets, I have named them; Petal, Violet and Willow are the Red Rocks (which are largely black), and Fern, Sage and Rosemary are the Cinnamon Queens (the brown chicks).  They are a comical bunch, still working out the pecking order of the flock.  I think Fern will be the dominant hen, she was the biggest chick, and seems to be the bossiest!

Fern (aka Miss Bossy Pants) was the first to master the chicken ladder.

The chicken coop is tucked against the back fence, behind my wisteria arbour, and far from being an eyesore; I think it’s very cute.  I purposely didn’t keep track of how much I spent on it, despite using a lot of secondhand materials; I still had to buy some wood, the window, hardware, wire, paint and cement blocks.

The girls love their new home.

I can’t wait for fresh eggs!  These hybrid chickens are reputed to be excellent producers of big brown eggs, and should start producing them when they are about 20 weeks old.  Then I will be able to provide complete meals from my yard, including veggies, eggs and fruit.  Now that’s food security!

And their new yard!

About hortophile

I am a very opinionated, slightly obsessed gardener with decades of experience in the retail nursery industry. A lucky resident of the "Wet Coast" of British Columbia I tread a muddy path between practicality and beauty, with my veggie patch, herb garden and fruits vying for position with the beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers that I can't resist. DON'T ask me to choose between them! I believe in environmental responsibility and common sense.
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117 Responses to Egg Farming

  1. That is amazing Janis!!!! Can’t wait to see it in real life :) See you tomorrow!!

  2. Mun says:

    Wonderful post Janis, congrats on your new henhouse! It looks brilliant, and the chickens are really pretty too :) Love their names!
    Hope you get tons of eggs…..but hey, don’t you need a rooster for that? ;)

  3. LOL When I saw the picture I wondered how you were going to move it from the garage :). It’s absolutely great and I’m so jealous! I’d really love to keep chickens, but really don’t have the space :( I look forward to following their porgress!

  4. whoops that should be progress

  5. The Hook says:

    Good luck! Put me down for a dozen!

  6. WOW. love it. those are going to be some happy birds :) . Have fun!

  7. First of all, great idea for deciding to start a chicken coop! My grandparents have chickens and they are definitely useful!

    Secondly, great construction of the coop! Someday my husband and I would like to have 2 chickens and a small chicken coop in our backyard, but I am always worried about it being an eye-sore. Your post proves it doesn’t have to be! :)

  8. gaycarboys says:

    how wonderful.I so wish I wasn’t living on the 5th floor with only a view for company.

  9. That’s awesome! My good friend is also an egg farmer. Happy farming and congrats on Freshly Pressed, well deserved.

  10. Lakia Gordon says:

    Awwwww, look at the baby chickies :)

  11. That looks amazing! Great job!

  12. Xhisoka says:

    Lovely Chickens. We used to have those on our backyard.

    Oh, I remember the days when I talked to my chickens a lot… most of the time..(I mean, all the time) they never responded. Yeah, the manures were so helpful in our flowering plants. But nothing beats that daily protein goodness served freshly in our back door!
    :)

  13. The Dream Chaser says:

    Astounding. Amazing you can get all this done.

  14. thor27 says:

    Very good use for a bunkbed turn it into the base for a chickenhouse. Good for you.
    Nice blog come visit my blog on wordpress.

  15. jennajadee says:

    I love this. My family has just started this, still in the process of how we are going to put the coop together and a place for them to run, so the cats don’t get them. We have a rooster though, so little chicks are a must with our little girl. :D She loves animals and I, just like you, cannot wait for the fresh eggs. Your coop looks amazing!! I wish you happy bird watching.

  16. :) Great coop. My parents had chickens… now the hen house has been turned into a cat house for their outdoor cats. The hens got old and stopped laying eggs… they never replaced them. Fresh eggs are the best.
    I will share with you… be careful where you put your chicken poop… their garden never recovered. They have these awful weeds that they never had before the chicken poop. Good Luck! :)

  17. Pinku says:

    WOW..impressive. I think the Hen-house actually looks cute. Way to go :-) Fresh eggs from the backyard.

  18. emjayandthem says:

    Fun post! I am looking forward to reading more about the antics of the Red Rocks & the Cinnamon Queens (great names, by the way).

    Cheers! MJ

  19. franticheart says:

    Oh what a nice henhouse :) now I must tell my sister to read here, she also want some chickens in the garden! hehe we´ll see if our father can make a nice henhouse for her to

  20. Great. I want to do this when my husband and I buy a house. One thing I’ve seen on maybe 2 shows — I recall someone putting wheels on their chicken coop so it can be wheeled around the yard and the chicken poop fertilizes the soil and you don’t have to collect the poop and move it yourself. Thought that was a good idea. Did you consider this at all, or for your purposes would a rolling chicken coop work? Just wondering since it seemed like a good idea and I’ve never had chickens before. The coop did turn out to be cute, for sure. Definitely not an eyesore.

    • hortophile says:

      The moving coop is called a chicken truck. I did consider it but because I wanted to use the old bunk bed I made it stationary – it’s too heavy to roll around. Once they are grown and used to their home I may let them free-range every so often, as long as they don’t demolish the garden!

  21. pokerbetty says:

    This is so cute. It reminds on my grandparent’s farm.
    Kisses

  22. Grace says:

    Baby chicks are so cute… we used to raise them in my grade school classes, then give them to whomever happened to live on a farm at the time.

  23. Love your coop ^5 to your Hubby! I live in the Desert or I would have one. Congrats on FP :)

  24. I’m so happy to see someone else with chickens! Our chicken “experiment” has just started, but they’ve made an excellent addition to the micro-farm we have. They’re even better and less noisy than the ducks. The eggs are to die for! My sons love running out to check for eggs. Your chicken coop is so coop. Congratulations!

  25. Eva McCane says:

    cute chicks! and their set-up looks fabulous.

  26. There’s a first time for everything – hen house envy!
    I’m sure there’s a market for these, you know … what’s your husband doing next weekend?

  27. Finally Fast says:

    That’s awesome. I recently started eating all natural or organic foods. Eggs and milk are a few of the must be organic items I have. I’m impressed

  28. sannekurz says:

    I am missing this since the day my grandparents passed away and with them the chicken-keeping culture in my family. Did you know in Mouscron, Belgium the city offers the citizens free chickend to reduce their household waste? – pretty sure I read this on a BBC page a while back. Lovely images.

  29. Abby says:

    That’s so awesome :] I’d love to keep a few chickens! First step: fence. Second step: job that lets me be home at normal hours, lol!
    But really, I’m always so jealous of people who can have fresh eggs all the time. What do you plan on doing with extra eggs? I’ve never eaten a pickled egg, but I bet it would be fun to make some.

  30. ournote2self says:

    Awww, they are so cute! And nice job of the chicken coop!

  31. barb19 says:

    Wow – I would love to have a hen house like yours – it’s a great design and I love the little window box with flowers – a nice touch! It’s certainly not an eyesore – anything but.
    Well done! Hope your girls provide you with lots of delicious eggs.
    I’m going to check out that site as I’m keen to have some hens in our new place.

  32. It looks really cute. I envy you for having all that space to garden and keep animals. You never know when there could be a major disaster and you have to rely on other resources besides your local grocery store. Good for you!

  33. TweeCo says:

    I love it! it is good to have some happy birds a my backyard.
    The coop is nice. They should have a good time there.

  34. LL says:

    Baby chicks are always so cute!!

    A lot of my friends used to have chickens in their yards, but I think they stopped because of all the upkeep needed to deter predators. Another one oof them also had a rooster. I think it was pretty common in their area though, as theirs wasn’t the only rooster on the block.

  35. asrai7 says:

    I’ve always wanted to do something like this, someday when I have the space :) Great job!

  36. Ms XX Fast says:

    Are you even real?? LOL! A self-sufficient, intelligent, opinionated woman who has a great hubby, friends and neighbors to help her when she needs with these incredible projects. The hen house is amazing! Seriously. Who the heck builds a hen house like that?? Superman and Wonderwoman?? I am in awe. Kudos to you both! I can’t even keep a common houseplant alive.

    • hortophile says:

      No, I am an internet imposter, living in a tiny apartment in a big city, all by myself! I troll the web for cool garden pictures and have constructed this fantasy alter ego! :)

      • Ms XX Fast says:

        Ha! I knew it! Seriously, it’s just incredible what you can do. My mother has raised chickens and geese for eggs for many years. I cannot as we have a lot of coyotes and bobcats and they can get through anything. They don’t bug my horses, but I have to be careful with any of my other animals. I envy that you grow so much of your own food as well. Do you guys incorporate any alternative energy sources as well? Or gray water recycling, or rainwater collecting?

      • hortophile says:

        Not really alternative, but we heat and cool our home with a heat pump, and have a tankless hot water system, and use some passive solar (big honking windows). I am debating getting rainbarrels as I have plenty of downspouts, including one on the henhouse! Our biggest water problem is that we have too much of it! Rain, rain, rain…

  37. Miz Maggiee says:

    Well constructed! I like the fact that you used older materials and basically recycled them. I am not much for recycling but, I thought that was without a doubt crafty! Well done. The window appears to match really well too. Congratulations on a completion of such a handful of a project.

  38. I’m so happy to see someone else with chickens! Our chicken “experiment” has just started, but they’ve made an excellent addition to the micro-farm we have. They’re even better and less noisy than the ducks. The eggs are to die for! My sons love running out to check for eggs. Your chicken coop is so coop. Congratulations!

  39. Pingback: Freshly De-Pressed « theeyelife

  40. What great friends and family you have. AND a handy hubby. Well done, Mother Earth will thank you!

  41. Looks great! Your husband does seem to be handy!

  42. This is completely amazing! I mean, keeping chicks for food stock is a nice idea. We’ve also got food stocks at home like chillies, lemons, drumsticks and papayas from the kitchen garden. But you’ve everything recycled! This is the most environment-friendly post I’ve ever read!

  43. richannkur says:

    Good business opportunity….

  44. Scott says:

    The chicks are cute as can be, and the coop is very well built! I had chickens for a time, as a teenager. My dad had an unused boat house, and he converted it into a very large chicken coop. I had numerous chicks, which became numerous hens and roosters (though we ate most of the roosters to lower competition among them). The eggs were all brown, and quite good. Yet the roosters didn’t taste good at all–I think it was psychological, I killed them myself, and watched their headless bodies flop around in the yard, so that took away my appetite! There was one rooster I kept though–a huge blue Andalusian. He was beautiful, but mean–extremely territorial. Every time I entered the pen in front of the coop, he came after me with his spurs. I even climbed a dogwood tree to get away from him! Looking back, it’s funny–here was this strapping 6’3″ tall teenage guy afraid of a rooster! And the rooster’s crowing every morning–I loved it! We all loved it, living inside the city limits (Mobile, Alabama). But the crowing was the undoing. Some damned old man at the opposite end of our street complained about the crowing (which was not excessive at all), and the police told us we’d have to get rid of the chickens. I’m glad we had them for as long as we did though–it was a wonderful experience!

  45. Ciprian says:

    Good work, man!

  46. Roda says:

    Hi,
    All I can say is wow, wow and a double wow. That chicken coop is so beautifully made.
    Wish I could copy you.

  47. Well done! We added chickens to our farm last year and are hoping to add a few more this year. The fresh eggs are addictive and now I can’t imagine buying eggs at the grocery store!

  48. Now this was pretty cool!

  49. Summer says:

    Thats so cool!

  50. kbaran01 says:

    Definitely not an eye sore – it is so cute and well made :)

  51. eva626 says:

    so very cool!!!

  52. ohiokimono says:

    Loveeeeeeeeeeeee it! I have always wanted chickens for my own backyard as well. We ended up buying a condo, and are busy restoring it. It will be a few years before we can move somewhere that will have a backyard. When we do move, you can bet Ill have chickens. Your hen house really demonstrates how you can recycle materials and still look pretty fab in the end.

  53. Harold says:

    We are hoping to get chickens soon! I have collected most of the wood to build the coop. Just need a window! I even have roofing paper and shingles. The plan is to make it portable.
    Congrats on yours and being FP!

  54. Michael says:

    Nice work, you should sell the plans to make it. Can’t wait to see more pictures.

  55. Mun says:

    Yay!! you got Fp’ed!!! :D

  56. Mark Griffin says:

    Very cool! How many eggs a day do you think you will be collecting?

  57. Aww… what lucky little chickens!

  58. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!
    Cheers
    PiP

  59. dale says:

    Beautiful! And practicality (resourcefulness) is an aspect of true Beauty? I’m jealous. Keep up the Good Work!

  60. pk says:

    Very nice coop! And your chicks look so happy. I let mine free range all day and then they put themselves to bed around dusk and I simply lock the coop doors.

    • hortophile says:

      And do they trash your garden? It has been suggested to me that if I only let them out later in the afternoon they won’t have much time to destroy things before bedtime. :)

  61. Ms XX Fast says:

    We have a tankless but we’re on propane so we don’t allow active recirculation and only use a remote to turn it on when needed (propane is expensive!). lol Inconvenient at first but we’re completely used to it. We don’t get an incredible amount of rain, practically none in the summer (Southern CA) . My live-in boyfriend (what sinners we are ;) ) is really into alternative energy. I wish we had the money to invest to go off the grid (at least partially) but getting set up is insane. I am impressed with your ability to garden and your husband’s ability to build, and from recycled materials no less! The art has become so lost in today’s world. I sometimes wish we could all go back in time. Pre-Facebook and Fastfood. hehe

    • hortophile says:

      I was just reading about how we are losing the ability to do basic construction and basic repairs for ourselves, it’s sad, really. I think though, that if we had to, most people could figure stuff out, there is a ton of info out there for anyone who cares to look for it. The biggest hurdle for many might be lack of tools!

  62. ryoko861 says:

    You’re going to get attached to the t hem, believe me!

    Love the coop! Great idea with the bunk bed!

    I have 4 (had 5, lost a rooster a couple weeks ago) Buff Cochin Bantams that we just adore! They are the most personal chickens I’ve ever seen. They don’t lay anymore, but when they did, their eggs were so delicious. They are my pets. I would never eat them.

    I have a post on my blog about my chickens, well, the two that were kept in my house for part of the winter. There’s a picture of my coop if you want to take a look at it. I call it the Taj Mahal of coops. I think you’ve got me beat by a mile!

    Good luck raising them and enjoying them. They are fun to watch!

  63. mkeeffer says:

    An excellent and beautiful coop – I’m sure your chickens will enjoy it!

    Fabulous post…and your back garden is lovely. Omelets on the way…

  64. NapalmKitty says:

    This really looks great!

  65. adalynfarm says:

    What a great coop! If predators are a problem you can always get an electric fence! We’ve had ~60 hens in a 1/4 acre paddock with a hotwire at nose level and haven’t lost one yet…

    • hortophile says:

      Nose level, really? what kind of giant predators do you have? I think a mink could slip under that easily – unless of course it’s at HIS nose level! :)

  66. Spectacular! I am in aw of your chicken sanctuary. We are similar, I have my garden and chickens and I love them to pieces. I just took a stab at making a chicken coop. Mines needs a bit of re-working but it does the job for now. I appreciate your post, smooches.

  67. That’s a gorgeous coop right there!

  68. thesunnygirl says:

    Wow that’s so impressive! I created a Sunny Set (similar to a Bucket List) on my blog, The Sunny Girl, and one of my goals was to hatch some chicks. My dad and I had the eggs shipped to our home and we also built a coop just like you did. But I guess we put all “our eggs in one basket” because the eggs never hatched! It was quite disappointing but your post has inspired me to keep trying!

    Keep shining,
    The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
    http://www.thesunnygirl.com

  69. We bought 4 baby chicks about 6 weeks ago’ 2 of them are black sexlinks and the other two are a mixture of white sexlinks and road island red (one of these is the oldest). We built a chicken coop “ark” that we can move around the back and side yard so they will eat the bugs in our grass. We haven’t named them, yet! They are funny to watch when we restore their food in their feeder. We are also looking forward to eating their eggs. I heard today from some friends of ours that have 12 grown chickens that they like to catch and eat mice. Yuck!

  70. asrclub says:

    thanks for the great informations great work

  71. Smurray says:

    Wow, looks wonderful! My partner and i just finished our coop and run a couple months ago too, but it’s not nearly as cute. Can you tell us more about the breeds of chicken you got? Does the fact that they’re hybrid mean they can’t produce chicks? (I don’t know if that applies to chickens as well as plants…) They’re very pretty, in any case. Are they friendly, too?

    Interesting blog- hopefully someday i’ll be able to write about my new plot of land and building a home and garden! For now, it’s just cramming more garden into my little rental house yard!

    • hortophile says:

      These chickens could produce fertile eggs (if I had a willing rooster) but their progeny would be further hybridized and not the same as crossing one pure breed with another. The sex-linked effect would be lost so you couldn’t definitively sex the chicks at birth from the colour of their down.

  72. That’s a good idea to raise chicks on your own. Egg farming might be a good hobby that will turn into a business someday. Good job!

  73. Kat says:

    You have totally inspired me to build a ‘beautiful’ chicken coop! I thought it was going to be ugly – but you’ve made me realise it doesn’t have to be! Well done :)

  74. That is simply beautiful. We’ve thought of how nice it would be to have chickens but present laws do not allow it for the amount of space we have. We might be able to have rabbits for fertilizer, but unfortunately they don’t lay eggs.

    Your coop is stunning!

  75. Oh wow, amazing work! Looks like so many hours went into the making. Congrats on being freshly pressed :)

  76. This looks great!

    In two weeks my organization is buying 600 chicks to help children go to school in Uganda. I can’t wait because they are so cute!

  77. Pollyanna says:

    What a lovely henhouse and the window is a beautiful touch, I hope the chooks appreciate it!

  78. mindalo says:

    Hey this is so cool. By the way I’m new so please come to my blog and leave a comment

  79. abhidworx says:

    nice chicken and eggs

  80. valetales says:

    What a lovely henhouse! How I wish my husband could construct something so grand for our chickens -I’ll show him your blog and who knows ??????

  81. gilnambatac says:

    this is cute!

  82. Lepetitsuisse says:

    I hope you let your chicks stroll around in the garden on daytime. Hens for organic eggs get 4qm (about 35 square feet).
    And don’t worry that your hens are sick in about 18 months, it’s normal that they will have at time in that age where the will produce less eggs.

  83. Mackenzie | Red Roan Chronicles says:

    That’s awesome… and your coop is EPIC! I can’t wait to have my own property one day so I can do things like this… though I might need to find myself a handy guy to help me learn to build things! :D

  84. Pingback: Farm Fresh Eggs | Passing Thru

  85. Pingback: Chickens coming home to roost, find henhouse foreclosed « kansas reflections

  86. Pingback: Free Range Chickens | Hortophile – My New Garden

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