Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Chicken coop

Next Saturday I will be going to my local poultry auction with the hopes of coming home with a few new chicks. As previously mentioned on my In The Garden This Week page these will be for meat rather than eggs with the ducks giving me plenty of the latter already.

I plan to get around five or six so have designed the house to comfortably fit this many; Anything can happen at an auction though so we'll see what we end up with.

I've been doing a bit of research on the better breeds for eating based on taste, size and how fast they mature, I've also had a look through the provisional auction listing and there's certainly a few that I will have my eye on. Some of these are Welsummer, Buff Plymouth rock, Rhode island red or maybe even some Maran crosses. As I'll be getting them as chicks they won't go straight out into the coop, for a couple of weeks they'll live in a big box/cage inside where it'll be warmer and more secure for them.

When they do go outside they have a big enclosure surrounding the coop made from chicken wire. With a bit of diy involved the idea is that this can be easily portable for when the vegetation gets low I can move the whole pen onto fresh grazing.

As with all things involved with smallholding costs come into it. The coop has been made entirely from scrap wood that I have collected whilst out and about. The only expense so far has been the nails and a length of chicken wire to create the fence. If I had to buy a coop I would need to get a lot more than six chickens to make it pay. Slightly lower costs if I would have had to buy the wood but certainly more cost effective than buying a pre-made coop.

What I will end up with will be organic, free range chickens knowing exactly what  they have eaten, how they have lived and of course how and when they have been slaughtered. With the price of free range chicken rising in the supermarkets it is now often cheaper to buy other British meat for a Sunday lunch. My costs will be feed and bedding over a period of five or six months. The price per chicken should be similar if not lower and the end product with a bit of care and attention will be so much better.

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