(Natural News) Raising chickens appeals to homesteaders because it gives them full control over the quality of chickens or eggs they put on their plates. But if you’re just getting started on raising chickens, one of the main things to consider is the health and happiness of your flock.
When building a chicken coop, include the following accessories for a healthy, happy flock. (h/t to NewLifeOnAHomestead.com)
- Solar chicken coop lights – Adequate lighting inside a coop is important because a hen’s reproductive cycle is regulated by natural light. Hens may stop producing eggs if they lack enough light. Lighting outside the coop can also help keep predators away. Get solar lights because they require little maintenance.
- Chicken fountain – Water is the most important component of a chicken’s diet. Your chickens should have access to clean, fresh water at all times to avoid health issues. Waterers come in numerous designs, but the most popular one among homesteaders is the fountain-type drinker because it is sanitary.
- Feeder – Food is another key ingredient for a healthy flock. Feeders come in a variety of designs, including those that can be hung from the ceiling. Make sure you store excess feed properly so you don’t attract pests and predators.
- Compost pile – Keep an organic compost pile in your coop and let your chickens at it. They will turn it for you. Plus, chicken poop is a nitrogen-rich material you can easily add to your compost pile. (Related: Homesteading 101: Using chickens to help manage your compost.)
- Worm mound – Place a mound of dirt filled with worms and insects into the chicken run. It’s a fun way to give your flock something fresh to eat.
- Dust bath – Chickens like to roll around in the dirt to keep themselves clean. Hens typically do this together as a form of socialization. To make one, just find an old tire or plastic tub and fill it with dirt and sand.
- Grit – Chickens will seek out grit, such as small gravel or shells, to process their food. Make sure your run has a small container of grit that your chickens can easily access.
- Log stumps or firewood – Place a few log stumps or large pieces of firewood in the coop for your flock to peck and climb onto. If they’re lucky, they may even find small insects living inside the wood.
- Hanging fruits or vegetables – To introduce variety to your flock’s diet, wrap a piece of fruit or vegetable in twine and hang it inside the chicken run. These hanging treats encourage the chickens’ natural pecking and scratching instincts, keeping them healthy and entertained.
- Chicken swing – Buy or make a little swing to put inside the coop. Chickens like to roost up high. Swings give them a fresh and ever-changing vantage point inside the coop.
- Bells – Hang some bells from twine inside your coop. Your chickens will enjoy pecking at the bells. These boredom-busters are a great way to keep the flock entertained when it’s too cold to take them outside the coop, such as in the winter.
- Mirror – Scientists know that very few animals can recognize their own reflections, and chickens are not one of them. But it’s common for backyard chicken breeders to place or hang a mirror in the coop because chickens seem to be entertained by it. Just make sure to use unbreakable mirrors so your chickens don’t hurt themselves.
- Perches – Your coop should have lots of perches for roosting. Here’s a simple guide to making your own perches from scratch.
- Treat wreath – Keep your flock busy with a treat wreath. Just make a simple wreathe with chicken wire and fill it with healthy snacks, such as fruits and leafy green vegetables. Hang the wreathe in the coop.
- Nesting boxes – Nesting boxes provide a quiet place for your hens to lay eggs. It’s also a convenient place for you to collect eggs.
- Bottle treat dispenser – This toy can keep your chickens entertained for hours on end. Just grab a plastic bottle, poke a few holes into it and fill it with chicken feed. Secure the cap, then toss the bottle into the chicken run. Watch as your chickens peck and poke at the bottle for the treats inside.
- Frozen snacks – Freeze chicken feed mixed with blended fruits or vegetables into ice cube trays. Toss a few into the chicken run to give your chickens a healthy treat that will keep them cool in the summer.
- Pumpkins – Get a pumpkin and cut off its top. Cut holes on the side. They should be big enough for your chickens’ heads. Place the pumpkin inside the chicken run as a healthy snack for your flock.
Learn more about building and maintaining a chicken coop at Homesteading.news.