Get to Know Coops for Troops

Chickens aren’t just the gateway to the farming world; they’re also a source of joy, a source of food, and believe it or not, chickens can be calming companions.

Therapy animals.

This is why we we are always thrilled to contribute to a Coopdreams.tv initiative called Coops for Troops. 

What is Coops for Troops?

Coops for Troops is a non-profit organization that was born out of the Coop Dreams TV reality show. The creator, Brad Hauter, initially aired the Coops for Troops idea as a single segment on the television show. 

From this show, Coops for Troops took off and developed into a cause worthy of a chicken lover’s attention. 

Brad Hauter

According to their website, “Coops for Troops provides chickens, a coop, and a starter pack of feed and supplies to returning veterans, the families of deployed military personnel, military schools, VA hospitals, and retirement homes.”

It’s their hope that a gift of chickens will help those struggling with depression, anxiety, or PTSD.

And not only is Brad a super interesting guy because he hosts a TV show and helps veterans while spreading the goodness chickens can bring, but he’s also traveled across the country on a riding lawn mower to raise funds for Keep America Beautiful. Cool, huh?

How Can Chickens Help?

Similar to other therapy animals, chickens can provide companionship, promote relationship-building, and bring a smile to the face of someone who suffers from PTSD. 

Chickens have also been known to reduce stress due to their silly antics and due to the fact that they need to be tended to daily. In other words, chickens give those in need something to care for, a way to feel less isolated, and of course never alone. 

What’s more, chickens don’t just give back through entertainment and companionship, they also provide eggs. It’s nearly a gesture of gratitude in itself when a pet provides such a thing to a devoted caretaker. The relationship is mutual.

But the chickens aren’t just for the troops, they’re also for their families and others dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).

Spouses and children of military families are also benefiting from the Coops for Troops initiaitve.

What is Henny+Roo’s connection to Coop Dreams and Coops for Troops?

Since 2016, Henny+Roo has partnered with the incredible folks at Coop Dreams to provide Henny+Roo chicken supply boxes to veterans via the Coops for Troops program. We do this not only because we believe in the healing power of chickens, but because we have very special military veterans in the Henny+Roo family.

We have also participated in fundraisers, like selling our Glory Hen Lapel Pin, where $5 from each sale is donated to Coops for Troops. Get yours here.

We regularly participate in Coop Dreams’ Friday Night Introvert Club, a weekly Facebook Live event full of trivia games and even Chicken Poop Bingo, information, and sometimes even guests hosts. Follow Coop Dreams on Facebook for newsfeed notifications of the next Friday Night Introvert Club.

Back in 2019, we were thrilled to meet The Coop Dreams team in person at their Coop Camp event, which has been held annually since 2014 (except for 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid pandemic). Coop Camp is a fun weekend for chicken keepers held in the Indianapolis area and features expert speakers, hands-on classes, games, door prizes, and even goat yoga. Being an internet-based business doesn’t leave much opportunity for us to interact with the chicken keeping community in person, and we were so happy to do so at Coop Camp 2019. We can’t wait for the next one.

How can You Make a Difference for Veterans?

When you love chickens as much as we do, it’s natural to want to share them with others. It’s like we’re in a secret, special, chicken-loving club. And our arms are wide open to anyone interested in chickens. 

That’s why we wanted to share this amazing opportunity with our readers, so you can help make a difference and share your love for chickens with those who could benefit from a happy flock.

So, if you’d like to nominate a veteran, military family, VA hospital, or home simply visit the Coop Dreams website and complete the form provided. 

If you’re interested in sending a donation to help the program continue to provide coops to troops visit their PayPal page here

Chicken lovers know the healing power of these amazing birds. From their goofy behavior to the delicious eggs they provide for us, they’re truly a joy to behold. So let’s spread that joy to those in need. Together, we can make a difference!

You can also follow Coops for Troops on Facebook to get updates and see the inspiring stories of chickens and their new families.



Henny+Roo is the first and foremost monthly subscription service for chicken keepers, providing our members with health treats, products to build their poultry first aid kids, and useful chicken-themed gifts for keepers. Shop our monthly plans and non-subscription items at hennyandroo.com.

When Do Chickens Start Laying Eggs? 6 Signs Eggs Are on the Way

If you’re waiting for chickens to start laying eggs, you may be wondering what to watch for so you can be ready for the harvest!

The truth is some chickens take longer than others to mature. So there is no right answer as to when your chickens will start laying. 

With that being said, here are some telltale signs that your hens are ready to start serving up breakfast for your family. 

1. It’s Been About Six Months

Chickens are sexually mature around 6 months of age. This means, their bodies are ready to start producing eggs! 

With that being said, there are a variety of factors that can influence the exact start of a hen’s egg-laying career, like: 

  • Environmental factors
  • Breed
  • Illness
  • Nutrition

As a rule of thumb, six months is a good timeframe to watch for fresh eggs, but your hens could start laying sooner, or a bit later, than that. 

2. Your Hens Start to Squat

It sounds a little silly but squatting when approached by a rooster, or other animals, is an indication that your hen has reached sexual maturity, and is ready to lay some fresh eggs. 

This is a behavior that assists the rooster in mating with the hen. Hens become submissive and squat down, allowing the rooster to do his thing. 

You can test this behavior by lightly pushing on the hens back to see if she becomes submissive. If so, eggs won’t be far behind!

3. Changes in Combs and Wattles

As hens develop, and near maturity (ie egg-laying season), you may notice that their combs and wattles turn from pinkish to a beautiful bright red!

Combs will also become larger as your hens grow. And, as a side note, a rooster’s accessories become bigger and more red as well but this usually happens much sooner.

4. Hens Begin to Eat More

As most critters do, hens eat a lot more as they grow and develop. But laying eggs requires more energy than simply spending time as a growing pullet. Hens gearing up to lay their first eggs need more protein, calcium, and other valuable nutrients in order to lay healthy, strong, eggs. 

With that being said, your hens will start eating more than they did before they were ready to lay eggs.

It can be difficult to determine how much a single hen is eating, but you may notice the feeder needing to be refilled more often than before. 

5. Hens May Become Nervous

A hen that’s about to start laying may go through a behavior change. In fact, she may appear more nervous and unsettled. She may even give you a start and pop out of strange nooks and crannies through the coop or barn. 

So be on the lookout, because it can be quite startling!

Hens that hide out, nervously search for….something, and hunker down in cozy crannies are often on the verge of laying their first eggs. 

6. They’ve Noticed the Nesting Boxes

In addition to nervously searching for their own special space to lay their eggs, hens close to maturity may seek out a nesting box that they’ve ignored for the past few months. 

Young hens may curiously hang out by older hens utilizing the nesting boxes. They’re learning from them, and even though they may be annoying to the experienced layer wishing for her privacy, these young pullets are picking up all kinds of tips and tricks. 

It All Depends on Your Hen

While the actual date a hen starts giving you eggs will vary, these are the signs that point to fresh eggs in the coop…soon!

So if your hens are happy and healthy, they’ll start laying as soon as their bodies are able to do so. A hen that lays early may develop internal problems, and her eggs may be rubbery or misshapen (which could potentially be painful). 

All this to say, your hen will know when she’s ready. And all you need to do is ensure she has the nutrition required to produce those tasty eggs. If you do, you’ll be rewarded handsomely, all in good time.

Henny+Roo is the first and foremost subscription box for backyard chicken keepers – sending boxes of treats, first aid and coop items, along with gifts for you since 2016. Learn about our monthly plans and non-subscription offerings at: hennyandroo.com

Selecting Spring Plants Chickens Won’t Eat

The deer in our area don’t care for Virginia bluebells, and neither do our chickens.

Chickens love eating plants! Grass, leaves, flowers – they’ll eat everything leaving your yard bare if they like what you have growing.

A rule of thumb that we go by when selecting plants for our yard is to select those that are deer-resistant. We have lots of deer in our area, but also have a fully landscaped yard that the chickens don’t bother because they’re all deer-resistant. We are in gardening zone 5, and are currently enjoy pachysandra, vinca, bluebells, bleeding hearts, pulmonaria, forget-me-nots, geranium, daffodils and various Spring ephemerals.

Your plant nursery or online source for plants will usually indicate if a plant is deer-resistant. You can also Google “deer-resistant plants for zone [your zone] or [your state].”

While chickens might eat anything if they’re hungry or bored enough, selecting plants that deer won’t eat may be your solution to keeping chickens and a beautiful garden.

A look inside the Henny+Roo May Box for Chicken Keepers

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!

Check out our monthly terms at hennyandroo.com 🐓

Find Beautiful Plans for Your Next Chicken Coop

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:

  • #chickencoop
  • #chickencoopplans
  • #coops
  • #chickencoopideas

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. 

And be sure to check out Henny+Roo on Facebook while you’re there!

Chicken Coop Planning Books

Lastly, you can always get find inspirational and coop-planning books that walk you through the exact process of building your first chicken coop. 

All you have to do is page through and find the design of your dreams…then head to the lumber yard!

These are some of our favorite chicken coop building books.

  1. DIY Chicken Coops: The Complete Guide To Building Your Own Chicken Coop

2. Building Chicken Coops For Dummies

3. 40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead: A Hands-on, Step-by-Step Sustainable-Living Guide (Creative Homeowner) Fences, Chicken Coops, Sheds, Gardening, and More for Becoming Self-Sufficient

Coop-planning books are great for beginners who need a little extra advice when building their first coop. 

Usually, everything from the nesting box to the dust bath, and the roost is already planned out and included. 

Plus, you know that you’re following plans for a coop that’s been tested against the elements and predators. 

So go ahead, and take the experts’ advice. You can always add your personal touches after the coop is complete, like this coop sign now available in the Henny+Roo Shop:  

Amazon for Easy Peasy Chicken Coops

We know not everyone has the time, or ability, to design and construct their own chicken coop. But, if that’s you, it shouldn’t stop you from making your chicken dreams come true. 

You can find pre-made, semi-started, chicken coops on sites like Amazon. Here are a few that have received good reviews:

  1. SnapLock Formex Large Chicken Coop Backyard Hen House 4-6 Large 6-12 Bantams
  2. GUTINNEEN Outdoor Wooden Chicken Coop Large Hen House Poultry Cage, 69in, Waterproof UV Panel
  3. PawHut 114″ Wooden Customizable Backyard Chicken Coop with Nesting Box and Runs

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!

A Look Inside the Henny+Roo March 2021 Box

The February boxes are being prepared to ship this week, so let’s talk about March!

Our monthly subscription boxes for chicken keepers are intended to be surprise boxes. We love hearing about the feeling you get when you open a box of goodies just for you and your flock!

The Henny+Roo March 2021 Box features our exclusive Spring Hen Pouch! At 9″x6″, it’s perfect for carrying all of your essentials. You’ll get a jump on spring decorating with the distressed silver sitting hen figurine – it’s made of resin and hand painted (4.5″ h x 6″ w). And for the flock, a big 1.5 lb. bag of Henny+Roo Pecktacular Grains and mealworms. Plus, 5 other items to care for your flock, The items in this box retail at over $60.

Not a subscriber? Sign up now or order without a subscription from our Shop.

Start Your Backyard Chicken Flock in 2021

If you’ve been hoping to start a backyard flock, 2021 might be the perfect year to start your first flock of chickens. 

And if you’ve already made the decision to start your flock this year, you’re in luck, because we’ve put together this list of things you can do now so you’re ready to bring your chickens home when the weather is better!

What to Do Now To Prepare for Your Chickens

Thinking ahead puts you in a position to have a smooth beginning to your journey as a proud flock owner. 

One of the best things you can do right now, while you wait out the winter, is to read…like, a lot!

While chickens aren’t a complicated animal to care for, they do have their quirks and special considerations. 

For example, did you know that chickens need grit to digest their food? 

Yup… it’s because chickens don’t have teeth like we do, so they need stones to grind up their dinners. 

You can learn all about a chicken’s dietary needs along with other essential things you’ll need to know to raise a healthy, happy, flock in books like:

Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, 4th Edition: Breed Selection, Facilities, Feeding, Health Care, Managing Layers & Meat Birds
The Chicken Health Handbook, 2nd Edition: A Complete Guide to Maximizing Flock Health and Dealing with Disease
Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens…Naturally

 

Determine Your Budget

Now is the time to think about what you’re willing, and able, to spend on a flock of chickens. 

Because, well, you can’t just have one chicken.

And yes, they are like potato chips, and you’ll almost always want more chickens.

But in reality, chickens need each other. So wanting more than one is perfectly acceptable.

At a minimum, you’ll want at least three chickens in the coop so they keep each other company and so they can cuddle up and keep each other warm during winter. 

You might be surprised at how close a couple of chooks can become. Some will appear to be attached at the hip.

So when determining your chicken budget, think about things like feed costs, bedding, nesting and coop supplies, feeders, and waterers. Then factor in how many chickens you’ll have so you don’t fall short on supplies.

Oh, and don’t forget the grit!

How Many Chickens Can You Have

How many chickens you want to have and how many you can physically keep are two very different things. 

We completely understand how you feel…we’d have all-the-chickens if we could.

But before you place a massive order with your hatchery, other things you need to consider are:

  • Your physical space
  • The buildings you already have and how you might use them to house your chickens
  • How much time you have to care for your chickens
  • Your other pets that may interact with your chickens

These things are important because they directly affect your ability to care for a happy, healthy flock. 

But one of the most important things to look into before you bring a single chicken home is ordinances. 

Yup, each city, town, county, and state may have laws regarding keeping chickens. 

Some cities allow chickens, while others prohibit them, for example.

So make sure you look into the local laws where you live to ensure you can have the ginormous flock you’ve been dreaming of. 

What Kind of Chickens You’ll Keep

There are many different breeds of chickens to choose from. And the kind you decide to raise depends on things like:

Where you live: If you’re in a cold climate, you’ll need to think about choosing breeds that are cold hardy.

Your purpose: Are you mostly interested in layers, or would you rather have a dual-purpose breed and raise your chickens for both meat and eggs. 

Your personal preferences: Do you like ornamental chickens or are you a fan of solid-colored birds?

Availability: Are the chickens you’ve chosen available to you either locally or through a hatchery?

Coop Considerations

Don’t forget to think about the future home of your flock!

Will you buy coops online, at your local farm supply store, or will you DIY a coop castle, for example. 

Think about the kind of space you have available and how much of that space you’re willing to gift to your hens. 

Remember, chickens love to forage, and if you’re planning on keeping them in confinement, make sure you’re willing to part with the lawn you’ll be keeping them on. 

Or, better yet, consider free-ranging your chickens if you have a safe space to do so. 

And, of course, think about what you want your coop to look like…will it be simple, repurposed, or will it be grand and decorative?

Some are really creative when it comes to their chicken coops, and while you wait for spring to arrive, maybe you can spend some time designing the coop of your dreams!

Buy Ahead of Time

Of course, the last item on your list of to-do’s before the spring showers bring flowers is to purchase your chickens. 

While you should make sure not to have chicks shipped to you during the cold months, many hatcheries will allow you to place your orders ahead of time.

Doing so ensures you’ll get the breeds you have your heart set on. 

So once you know what you can handle, go ahead, and start chicken shopping!

Then, go ahead and start shopping for the rest of your supplies. And if you’d like a head-start, don’t forget to check out our monthly chicken subscription boxes.



Henny+Roo is the first and only subscription box supporting new and experienced chicken keepers with monthly deliveries of supplies for your flock, and items to make you smile. Visit us at hennyandroo.com to learn about our monthly plans or purchase past boxes.

The Grub Life

An interview with Raoul Benavides, owner of Iowa Blue Farm

Raoul Benavides, Owner/Operator, Iowa Blue Farm

We were proud to feature Black Soldier Fly larvae from Iowa Blue Farm in our December box, and thought you’d like to get to know the owner, Raoul Benavides. We hope you enjoy learning about him and his business as much as we did!
-Your friends at Henny+Roo

Hi Raoul! How did you get started in this business and why are you passionate about BSF larvae?

I come from a long lineage of entrepreneurs. I am always searching for new ways to challenge myself. I wanted to do something tactile that was environmentally responsible. I think like a farmer and really love working on process based projects. Black Soldier Flies were a natural fit. (Learn more about Iowa Blue Farm here.)

What is your role at Iowa Blue Farm and how does your family support that?

I am the owner/operator. I wear all the hats. Of course, family and friends provided incredible amounts of support labor and feedback. I have had some really dear friends supporting me at the beginning. I did lots of experiments getting the flies to breed early on. I went from my basement to a 1000 square foot space and we are in the process of moving into a 10,000 square foot operation this month. From artists to designers to engineers, my team helped create the specialized gear needed to breed, feed, harvest, dry and package these very unique creatures.

Do you have any pets?

I have had a number of urban hens through out my life. Right now, I only have a lovely grouchy cat named Diego.

What’s your favorite part about your work?

 It’s incredibly rewarding. I get to manage and fine tune a whole life cycle of this beautiful insect and along the way lower the carbon footprint, provide jobs and feed chickens.

What’s surprised you about your business that you didn’t expect when you started?

At first, I didn’t really see the scale. This thing can be massive in cultural impact. I am hoping to open an indoor shrimp farm soon that runs entirely on Black Soldier Fly Larvae pellets. My dream is to turn the dried black soldier fly larvae into a small cookie that we can giveaway globally in order to end world hunger.

Big thanks to Raoul for sharing his work with us, and for providing his products, which we’re sure your flock will love, for our December boxes. Didn’t get one? We have just a few left in our Shop at hennyandroo.com, and for a limited time, you can save 10% sitewide with code CHICKENLOVE.