It seems that more and more people are approaching me with their desire to have backyard egg layers and a garden of their own. I find it hard to hide my excitement for their new interest as I explain how easy, rewarding and healthy this undertaking can be. After all, not too long ago a few backyard egg layers were the norm – not some foreign, socially touchy subject that few dare to act on.
“Do it!” is normally my knee-jerk reaction. Today I will once again get excited and share with you some things that we have learned at Grand View Farm, and see if it inspires you to start your own beautiful backyard egg-laying masterpiece.
- First rule is to keep it ULTRA simple. If having your own eggs is easy and does not consume too much of your time, then not only is it bound to be successful, but dare I say – fun? We’ll keep it simple by introducing a low-cost, high output, self-cleaning, time saving, clean, humane, smart and FUN system.
- Low-cost: You can go online and buy a chicken coop that gets shipped to you, but going to your local hardware store is just as easy, much less expensive, more satisfying and a lot more fun. Depending on the number of layers you want to have, the structure will only need to have a ten square foot area of cover – if that. I’d be happy to send you plans and instructions for the watering tubes that we designed at the farm. It keeps the water clean, off the ground and holds enough so that you may only fill it every few days.
- High Output: Each layer will produce one egg approximately every 26 hours, so how many eggs per day will you get? Take the number of layers that you have, multiply it by 0.8 (or 80%). Five birds will net you about four fresh, big, beautiful eggs every morning!
- Self-cleaning sounds too good to be true! Nope, even our 200 layers at Grand View Farm are self-cleaning so certainly yours can be as well. The coop plans call for it to be on wheels and quickly pulled to a fresh patch of grass as often as needed. Finding a happy medium between coop size and move frequency takes time and experimentation. Joel Salatin has done it and we have worked with the measurements ourselves. For your backyard masterpiece, give each bird three square feet of grass-space and move the coop once every two days. Even with five birds, having three square feet is easy; three feet wide by five feet long gives you a large enough area for the golden egg layers and a coop so easy to move that your kids will enjoy it.
- Time Saving: As if we haven’t made it easy enough, there’s more secrets and tricks of the trade to pass along. Keeping the food, water, egg laying boxes and root rails off the ground gives you 100% grass-space in your coop, keeps everything much cleaner, and makes it super easy and quick to move. Hang the feeder, hang the water tube, hang the bamboo roost rail, mount the egg boxes and you are set.
- Clean and humane go hand in hand. If it smells, looks or feels undesirable then you are doing something wrong. Your coop should not only be a lawn-greening, egg-making, child-entertaining masterpiece, but it should be the envy of the neighborhood. Moving it frequently, keeping everything off of the ground, and keeping the egg boxes with fresh leaves, sawdust, mulch, grass, hay, etc. will keep everyone and everything happy.
- Smart and fun. It’s smart because you dreamed it, built it, care for it, and eat the healthy finished product – an egg so good that you wouldn’t ever want to go back to the grocery store brands. What an incredible learning experience this could be, not only for you, but your family as well. The gift and life lessons of working for something, the responsibility and the care for the animals are all aspects quickly being lost on the next generations. Your kids will want to get up early to go out and gather the eggs before school and pet the friendly, curious and loyal layers. They will appreciate the food that you prepare for them and dare I say they could be inspired to want to participate in healthy, clean, local food beyond their adolescence when they start making their own food choices.
Let the questions and conversations begin, I’m looking forward to it!
Send me an email for detailed plans for your small coop as well as any other design aspects of the project.