Subscribers, take a look inside your May box! Your April box is in transit, and while you await its arrival, we are putting the finishing touches on your May box. First, your chickens will come running for the @exoticnutrition Chicken Treat Variety Pack. And you’ll be able to welcome guests with our cute Henny+Roo exclusive farmhouse-style garden flag!
The April box sold out, and we fully expect the May box to sell out too. Because of the limited supply, the May box will not be available on our website as a non-subscription purchase. You have to be a current subscriber to get it, so it’s a great time to start or reactivate your subscription!
When you’re getting started with chickens, one of the first things you need to do is ensure you have all the supplies your flock needs.
The good news is, the basics are pretty straightforward. We’re giving you the lowdownon the must-haves and a few optional extras.
Must-Have Supplies for Raising Chickens
The following items are absolutely necessary for raising a happy flock…so don’t skimp on these supplies for your new chooks.
1. A Chicken Coop (The Essential Supply for Raising Chickens)
A shelter for your chickens is definitely a no-brainer. But what you mightneed to hear is that it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. In fact, some of the safest, most functional, chicken coops are made from repurposed materials.
The only things you need to be sure of are:
That no predators can get in and kill your chickens
That your chickens are protected from the elements
There is proper ventilation
Other than that, your coop can be made from anything you’d like. So feel free to go all out or get a little thrifty when planning your first chicken coop. But whatever you do, don’t skimp on the hardware cloth!
2. Bedding for Your Chickens
Hand-in-hand with your chicken coop is the bedding you use inside the chicken coop. The purpose of having a layer of bedding on the bottom of the coop is so their droppings don’t sit on the floor of the coop. When they sit on top of bedding, they dry out faster and are easier to remove. We recommend using straw, pine shavings, sand or even dried leaves.
And as a word of caution, never use cedar shavings (the fumes can be toxic to chickens).
If you imagine completing your morning chores by tossing corn to your chickens in the yard, think again because chickens need containers for their feed.
You see, chickens pick up parasites, or coccidia, from eating food straight off the ground in their coop or yard. This is because they also poop in their yard, and that’s exactly how parasites get passed from one chicken to another…by inadvertently eating feces (among other things).
Feeders also keep chicken food clean and dry. Plus, they prevent your soon-to-be chooks from scratching their feed all over the coop, making it inedible, and just plain undesirable.
We use this Harris Farms plastic feeder in the Henny+Roo coop, and love that it can be hung from the rafters. This prevents the chickens from being able to use their claws to scratch food onto the floor, saving feed. It’s also very easy to fill from the top.
4. Waterers that Work for Chickens
Just like containers for chicken feed, waterers are simply non-negotiable when it comes to supplies for raising chickens.
Chickens need water available at all times, but especially in hot weather or when being fed dried insects, like mealworms.
Founts made specifically for chickens are our recommendation because they’re made to keep dirt, feed, and droppings out of the water (ensuring it’s fresh and clean for your chickens).
We have used this Harris Farms waterer for a while, and like it because you can fill it from the top. Many waterers require you to fill it upside down, attach the base, then flip it over and hope water doesn’t get everywhere, or the base doesn’t fall off completely. The nipple attachments reduce leaking and keep the water cleaner.
Consider a heated waterer if you live in cold climates so that your flock always has access to water when the temperatures are below freezing.
5. The Right Feed for Your Chicken Breeds
While it’s not a bad idea to mix your own chicken feed, as a beginner, it’s simply easier (and most likely cost-effective) to rely on the ready-made formulations.
You can rest easy knowing your chickens are getting the nutrition they need from feed created by the professionals.
So if you’re raising layer hens, make sure you grab the layer-specific feed because it has the right nutrients to help support strong, delicious, eggs.
On the other hand, if you’re raising meat chickens, look for feed labeled for raising meat birds.
Chicks have their own special feed as well. Be sure to read the labels to determine when to switch young chickens from chick feed to layer feed.
A feed that we are excited to try is Chicken Layer Love from EL CU Animal Nutrition. Chicken Layer Love is for egg-producing hens and is a complete, natural and sustainable feed containing all of the nutrients your flock needs, along with the mealworms and dried black fly larvae that they love. If you’d like to try this for your flock, click the link above and use code HENNYANDROO at checkout to save 5%!
6. Nesting Boxes
If you want to have clean eggs (and be able to find them) then you’ll need nesting boxes for your layer hens. Hens prefer dark, clean, well-protected spaces to lay their eggs. Each hen does not need their own nesting box, but you should have enough to reduce any drama. We’re not sure about your chickens, but ours have a favorite nesting box and usually bicker over it, even though it’s identical to the others! It’s recommended that you have one nesting box for every 4-5 chickens.
You can purchase ready-made nesting boxes or simply DIY them! Pinterest is a great place to look for nesting box and design ideas for inside the coop. We use these Miller Wall Mounted Nesting Boxes because they are easy to remove and clean.
7. Grit for Great Digestion
Grit is a finely ground, hard substance that chickens consume in order to digest their food properly. It sits in their crop and grinds food so that their bodies can more easily absorb nutrients. So while it might seem like an optional add-on, it’s a necessity for happy healthy chickens. Some chickens are able to get enough grit in the form of tiny rocks or coarse sand if they free range. If not, make grit available to the birds anytime in a separate container than their food. They will eat as much as they need, when they need it. Grit for chickens can be found at your local feed store or online. We like Poultry Grit from our friends at MannaPro.
8. Dust Baths
Dust baths are often overlooked when it comes to chicken-keeping supplies. But the truth is, dust baths aren’t just a luxury item for your chickens. They’re also a way for chickens to naturally prevent external parasites, control their body oils, and kick boredom to the curb during long winter months.
You can make your own dust bathing area by providing a corner in the run that has loose soil, fine sand, or even wood ash. The dust bath material does not necessarily have to be in a container, but if it does, you can build it out of wood, or provide an inexpensive shallow plastic bin. It should be large enough to allow your chicken to lie in, spread their wings and flick dust over their whole body.
There are commercial products you may wish to place in your dust bath area if dry soil is not available, such as Lixit Chicken Dust Bath.
Optional (But Good-to-Have Chicken Supplies)
The following items aren’t necessary, but they’re definitely helpful to have. With that being said, don’t worry about stocking up on these things until you’ve got the basics covered.
Oyster Shells – Great source of calcium (not a replacement for grit because it’s soluble)
Treats- To treat your chickens and add some extra protein try XXXXX
Swings – Who doesn’t love chicken swings?
Apple Cider Vinegar – Add to water biweekly for added immune support
Nesting Box Herbs – Henny+Roo’s Coop Complete Dried Herbs can be sprinkled on the coop floor, nesting boxes and dust bathing area to repel pests and calm chickens. All of the selected herbs are safe if ingested, are thought to have health benefits, and are GMO-free with no added chemicals or preservatives. A little goes a long way, so use sparingly and add weekly or whenever bedding is changed.
Spray for Lice and Mites – Keep on hand in case of an external parasite outbreak
Diatomaceous Earth – Great to dust coop with between cleanings to kill external parasites
The point is not to get overwhelmed when you start raising your chickens. Because, in truth, chickens are pretty content when their basic needs are met. Once you know you’ve got everything you need to raise happy healthy chickens, don’t be afraid to add-on some extras, just for fun.
Henny+Roo Monthly Supply Boxes for Chicken Keepers
Chicken keepers ourselves, we would never include an item in our monthly supply boxes that doesn’t get our flock’s cluck of approval. You’ll find that we put a great deal of thought, research and time into the selections for each box.
We will help you build your chicken emergency kit, try new treats that your chickens will love, learn more about how to care for your animals with books and magazines, and enjoy chicken-themed gifts, cooking items, and other goodies. It’s the only way we know to truly surprise yourself with a gift – one that supports your favorite hobby.
Henny+Roo boxes make the perfect gift for the chicken keeper in your life (even if that’s you!). Show your loved one that you love their chickens too by purchasing a subscription or something from our Shop.
Getting your first flock of chickens is an exciting adventure. Visions of bountiful egg harvests, peeping baby chicks, and coops full of clucking hens occupy your dreams.
But we’re here to tell you, there’s a few things we wish we had known before we brought chickens into our lives.
And the good news is, we’re sharing all the dirty details with you so you can be prepared for these otherwise unexpected issues when you start your first flock.
Let’s dig in and get you ready for your chickens!
1. Predator Prevention is Non-negotiable
There’s nothing worse than coming across deceased chickens during morning chores.
That’s why it’s important to take a preemptive approach to predators in your region.
And when we say predators, we don’t just mean the big ones (like bears of foxes).
Some of the smallest predators are the most deadly.
Snakes, raccoons, and weasels can find their way into even the most predator-proof coops.
So when you’re designing your first chicken coop, always take extra precautions to ensure you’re not leaving your chickens exposed to predators, like making sure every opening in the coop and run is covered in hardware cloth (not chicken wire – it’s not strong enough). Be sure that predators cannot dig under fencing to access your chickens, or fly into your run from above (they will definitely try).
2. You Need a Plan for Roosters
Even if you’ve planned to order all hens, there may come a time that a stray roo gets into the shipping container from the hatchery. No hatchery can guarantee pullets (hens under one year old) with more than 90% accuracy, so it’s best to assume 10% will turn out to be roosters.
On the other hand, if you’ve decided to incubate, prepare for the possibility of more than one rooster in your new little clutch of chicks.
If you’ve got the room and enough hens to go around, you might be able to keep some of those roosters.
With that being said, you’ll need a plan ahead of time for the roosters you won’t be keeping.
Because more than one rooster means you’ll need more hens for each one, and it also means there’ll be more crowing, more fighting, and maybe even more aggression.
So, what will you do with unneeded roosters?
Here’s a few ideas:
Sell them as chicks as soon as you know they’re roosters to someone who wants to raise them
Raise them and butcher them for yourself
Raise them and process them for sale (check local regulations)
Give them away to a family in need
3. Chickens Don’t Lay Eggs Until They’re Mature
Unfortunately, chickens don’t start to lay eggs until they are a few months old. And depending on the breed you’ve selected, it may even take months to see your first farm fresh egg.
So it’s a bit of a waiting game, but we’ll tell ya right now when that first egg appears, you’ll be celebrating all the way to the breakfast table!
While you wait for your first eggs, you can spend your free time ensuring your chickens have everything they need to lay quality eggs as soon as they’re ready.
Endless amounts of fresh water
Oodles of layer feed (formulated for layers)
Grit (to help chickens digest their food)
Treats (protein treats pack a punch for chickens when they’re growing!)
Calcium (this helps chickens lay eggs with strong shells, and it promotes strong and healthy bones)
And if your chickens are happy and healthy, they’ll start laying eggs as soon as they’re old enough, without delay.
4. Chickens Need Plenty of Elbow Room
It’s true! And if your run isn’t large enough to allow all your chickens to hunt, peck, and scratch the earth freely, you’ll soon learn that your beautiful run will turn into a large mud pit.
So if you’re not free-ranging your chooks, make sure your enclosure is plenty big; it’s just the polite thing to do.
In general, you’ll need to allow for about 5 to 10 square feet per bird outdoors.
5. Chickens are Also Predators
Ok, not like the-top-of-the-food-chain predators, but predators to things like mice, frogs, and bugs.
Never forget that chickens are omnivores and enjoy eating meat. So the next time you see your fluffy butts running across the lawn with a frog in the lead hen’s beak, just know that it’s completely normal and good for them.
On another note, chickens are predators to your landscaping efforts.
Nope, your chickens have no idea that your flower garden is not an a la carte buffet created just for them.
If you want to protect your landscaping from free-ranging beaks, then create barriers to keep your flock from ruining your flower beds…and veggie gardens, for that matter.
6. The Companionship and Connection
Some will tell you that chickens aren’t pets. And that might be true for the vast majority of them. But from time-to-time, you’ll come across a hen, or rooster, that plucks at your heartstrings.
Chickens can be friendly; they may even cuddle with you on the porch as you drink your morning coffee in the sun.
And before you know it, you’ve got a friend or two in the flock.
The truth is, you’ll see personalities emerge, and you may catch yourself naming your chickens (if we’re being honest, all of the fluffy butts in the Henny+Roo flock have names).
Is it time to take your chicken coop to the next level?
When it comes to creating the perfect home for your new flock, you may have something special in mind.
But if you’re not familiar with planning a construction project, you might be looking for a little inspiration and guidance.
So we’ve put together this list of ideas that will help get those wheels turning.
Find Chicken Coop Plans on Instagram
Instagram is one of the most visual social platforms around. And if you follow some favorite chicken-loving accounts, you know there’s usually something beautiful to ogle over.
Whether it’s pretty little eggs all in rainbow rows or a new chicken coop plan created al la Chip and Joanne from Fixer Upper, all you have to do is hit the right hashtags to get an eyeful of chicken fix-for-the-day.
Type in some of the following to bring up some fantastic chicken coop ideas to spark your imagination:
And of course, don’t forget to follow us for your daily dose of poultry eye candy.
Find Chicken Coop Ideas on Pinterest
We’ll admit, one of our first places to dig up inspiration is usually Pinterest. And that’s because it’s one of the most visual search engines on the planet with millions of contributors, just like us.
In fact, we’ve got a board set up specifically for new chicken owners looking for coop-building inspiration.
So go check it out, we’ll wait.
Oh and here’s a special tip: if you search for free chicken coop plans, a bunch of freebies will pop up for you to print out and work off of.
Our advice? Find a predator-proof plan, use what you’ve got, and then snaz it up once it’s complete.
Some of the most straightforward designs turn out to be the most beautiful.
In fact, we’ve seen some pretty impressive coop designs out there (some are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, like this one).
Just remember, the most important thing is safety and functionality, beauty can come later!
Facebook Groups of Chicken Fanatics
Facebook can be like the wild wild west, at times. Everyone seems to have the all the answers.
And, in truth, there’s plenty of good advice from experienced chicken owners on Facebook.
But instead of falling down the rabbit hole, here’s what we suggest:
Join a handful of chicken groups and search for the term “chicken coop plans” or “chicken coop design” rather than asking questions or endlessly scrolling the feed.
Who’s got time for that? Not us! We’d rather be with our chickens.
By searching, you’ll avoid the know-it-alls and still get the inspiration you’re looking for when planning your first chicken coop design.
Pre-made chicken coops come ready to snap together, and in most cases, all the designing and safety considerations are all done for you.
With that being said, it’s still a good idea to review the materials the coop is made from. That way, you can ensure that it will hold up during bad weather and cold conditions (if that’s where you’re located). You may have to fortify premade coops by adding a 2×4 base frame, hardware cloth on any openings, a stronger door locking mechanism, and/or a protective wood finish to lengthen the life and protectiveness of the coop.
Also watch for treated wood and materials that might be toxic to chickens.
An excellent way to ensure you’re purchasing a quality coop is to read through the reviews of what previous buyers have said about the chicken coop.
We wish you the best in creating a safe and happy home for your flock!