Feeding and Nutrition

 

Winter’s coming!

Friday, October 26th, 2018

Extend daylight in chicken coop during the winter
Winter is on the way in the Northern Hemisphere. These 3 resources will help you get your coop and flock ready for the coming season:

  • Chicken Keeping Buyer’s Guide – This is our selection of curated links to tools, materials, accessories, books, and art that make coop building and chicken keeping easier and more fun. Specific to cold weather, the guide points you to options for adding light to the coop and heat to your chickens’ waterer (and henhouse, if needed). Have ideas to add to the list? Please let me know.
  • Winter Coop Care Series – This four-part series is our go-to reference for how to prepare your coop and flock for the winter. Please add any tips directly to the comments sections of those posts.
  • All of our “winter”-themed posts – See everything we have that’s winter-related, including a many coop profiles from customers who’ve built our designs in some fairly cold and some truly extreme environments.

Happy wintering!

How to heat your chickens’ nipple waterer in the winter

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Heater for poultry nipple waterer

Just a quick post to share what we did last winter to keep our chickens’ nipple waterer from freezing. We bought an immersible birdbath heater (see our Buyer’s Guide for more details). Because the element rests at the bottom of the bucket, near the nipples, the warmth not only kept the nipples from freezing, but also kept any drops that formed on the outside of the nipples from freezing.  (more…)

Introducing the Peck-It-Clean Veggie Feeder for Chickens

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

We feed our chickens lots of loose greens, veggies, and garden scraps. They love them. But since chickens eat by pecking and tearing, loose foods like these can get tossed about in the coop, trampled in the run, and sometimes not eaten at all.

So we looked around for a device — something like a hay feeder for larger animals — that would hold loose veggies in place, providing enough resistance to allow chickens to eat more naturally and efficiently. We didn’t find anything, so we set about to create our own DIY veggie feeder, something that would be easy to make and would work in any coop or run.

The final product was so simple and so perfect for the job. It’s now our favorite thing in the coop (after the chickens, I’m obligated to say):

Chickens eating from Veggie Feeder

How it works

To see how it works, take a look as our flock makes quick work of a large zucchini in the veggie feeder. The video is at 20x speed, actually, so this one piece of fruit kept them active for a full 20 minutes:

Make your own, or get one from us

You can easily make your own veggie feeder if you have the supplies on hand (a grill/grate/grid or a section of heavy-gauge wire mesh with openings of around 1″ or 1.5″; a weather-proof elastic cord and toggle; and outdoor-rated zip/cable ties).

If not, order one of ours — the Peck-It-Clean™ Veggie Feeder for Chickens. It’s priced right, ships free and fast, looks nice in matching black, and goes up in minutes. And while it’s a handy accessory to have in your coop year round, it’s particularly useful for helping your chickens stay active and well nourished in the colder months.

Check it out, leave a comment or question below, and pass the idea along!

Make It Your Own: Dale’s Decked Out Oregon Garden Coop

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Garden Coop with henhouse walls to the ground.

Dale sent us pictures of his amazing garden and chicken coop he built using The Garden Coop plans. Among many other additions, he built the henhouse walls to the ground on three sides, attached attractive outboard nesting boxes, and added rectangular windows to the henhouse. The rest of the post is from Dale. . .  (more…)

Keeping your New Year’s resolution to keep chickens

Monday, December 30th, 2013

nine hens sitting on roost in chicken coop

You’ve made it your New Year’s resolution to finally get chickens. Good for you. Chickens are low-maintenance pets that give so much in return. On top of the amazing compost, free entertainment, and fresh eggs right from your backyard, you’ll also gain the skills and confidence to tackle more projects down the line.

Here are 10 steps to help you stay focused so that your chicken keeping resolution becomes chicken keeping reality:  (more…)

How to build raised garden beds to fit The Garden Ark mobile chicken tractor

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

How to build a chicken coop that fits a raised garden bed.

One of the nice things about The Garden Ark mobile chicken coop is that you can move it around your yard or garden to focus your chickens’ grazing activity where you want it — just roll it across your lawn or place it atop your vegetable rows.

But what if you prefer to garden in raised beds? How can you incorporate The Garden Ark into your garden rotation so that your hens can graze, till, and help fertilize your garden before or after harvest?

In this tutorial, I show you how to build a raised vegetable bed that fits The Garden Ark design perfectly.  (more…)

How to make a simple nipple waterer for your chick brooder

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

In this tutorial, I show you how to make a clean, efficient nipple waterer for your chicks using a push-in poultry nipple and a couple of easy-to-find items. If you’d rather not do this yourself, you can purchase one of our ready-to-use Brooder Bottles here.

Simple chicken nipple waterer for a chick brooder.
(more…)

How to build grazing frames for your backyard chickens

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Free plans for backyard chicken frames to grow greens that will last for months.Allowing your chickens to graze on fresh grass is a good thing — not just for them, but for you as well. The nutrients in green vegetation enhances the quality of their eggs and meat. And since fresh greens can make up about 20-30% of a chicken’s diet, providing them for your chickens can save you on feed costs.

But keeping your chickens supplied with fresh greens can be a challenge. When chickens have plenty of room to roam, they will graze a little off the top, then move on. When forage space is limited, however, as in a small urban or suburban backyard, chickens will continue to graze and scratch in the same spot until the vegetation is torn down to the roots.

An easy solution? Grazing frames! (more…)

New Book: Free-Range Chicken Gardens by Jessi Bloom

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, and while I’m admittedly biased in this case — that’s a real-life Garden Coop chicken coop in the background of the cover shot! — garden designer Jessi Bloom’s new book Free-Range Chicken Gardens is as lush and inspiring as the chicken paradise featured on the front.

The premise of the book is simple: how do you best integrate chickens into a backyard vegetable or permaculture garden. Bloom does a wonderful job of showing you how, drawing not only from her own experience as a garden designer and chicken keeper, but also from the experiences of a diverse group of chicken gardeners she profiles throughout the book.

Topics covered include all the basics of keeping backyard chickens plus how to create a plan for a chicken-friendly garden and what plants to include/avoid in your chickens’ day yard. The illustrations are clear. Kate Baldwin’s photos are gorgeous.

Seriously, if I were a chicken, I’d want to live in this book — or at least in one of the gardens featured in this book — one of which is the handiwork of horticulturalist Alana Meyer. Alana’s sumptuous Washington State garden adorns the book’s cover along with the chicken coop she built using The Garden Coop plans and her own two hands.

Have you read Jessi’s book? Follow her blog? Leave a quick comment and let us know what you think, what you’ve learned, and what you’ve been inspired to do with your garden and chickens.

Poultry nipples for making your own chicken waterer

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

These push in style nipples let you make a DIY chicken waterer easilyIn addition to fully assembled chicken waterers, we’re now also offering the push-in poultry nipples you need to make your own.

These are the same push-in style nipples we use to make our waterers, sold separately in packs of five. They are made of quality stainless steel parts inside a durable, hard, red plastic casing, and they’re sealed with a long-lasting silicone grommet. Made in China.
Use a 3/8″ drill bit to make a hole in your tubing or container. Insert the grommet first, then the nipple. Moistening it may help it go in easier. If you are going to seal your container, be sure to create a separate hole near the top (above the water line) so that air can enter as the water goes out.
These are the same push-in style nipples we use to make our waterers, sold separately in packs of five. They are made of quality stainless steel parts inside a durable, hard, red plastic casing, and they’re sealed with a long-lasting silicone grommet. Take a look.

Make It Your Own: Randy and Christy’s Garden Ark, Suisun City, California

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Baby Blue Chicken Tractor in Northern California

Randy and Christy used The Garden Ark mobile chicken coop plans to build a beautiful white and baby blue chicken tractor for their northern California flock. They also added an ingenious gravity-fed feeding system (made of PVC pipe) and a bucket watering system that mounts to the rear of the coop.

How to make a PVC chicken feeder

Thanks to Randy and Christy for sharing their ideas and pictures! If you have experience with a PVC chicken feeder or bucket waterer on your chicken coop, leave a comment below. What has worked? What would you do differently?

New nipple waterer for chickens

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Several months ago on the advice of a customer, I decided to make a DIY nipple waterer for our backyard chickens. Our birds were just chicks at the time, and keeping them supplied with fresh, clean water with their jar-and-saucer waterer was a frequent chore.

So I fashioned a simple waterer from a used plastic jug and a poultry nipple I bought online. The chicks took right to it, and the difference was remarkable.

No more spilled water. No more poopy water. No more worrying that their water had run dry.

When the flock graduated to the coop, their makeshift waterer went with them, and I started working on a more permanent solution for their larger space.

Here’s the nipple waterer I came up with — which I now also make to sell — and some videos showing you what you get and how it works. (more…)

Chicken keeping and coop design tip sheet

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Tips for backyard chickens and coopsSometimes you just want the basics, some notes that can help you get from dreaming to doing. I put together this one-page handout for a chicken keeping presentation I gave last year, and I wanted to share it here as well.

It covers many of the most common questions about chickens and coop design like:

  • How much space do hens need?
  • How much food do chickens eat?
  • How loud are backyard hens?
  • How often do you have to change your chickens’ water?
  • How wide does the chickens’ door need to be?

But mainly it gives you a bunch of little tips and reminders to help you get started with backyard chickens and with designing and building your own chicken coop. It’s perfect as a checklist to make sure you’re not forgetting anything important.

So if you’re keeping chickens for the first time, getting ready to build your own chicken coop, giving a presentation on chickens, hosting a coop tour, or trying to educate your neighbors about chickens — download our free sheet of chicken tips (8.5 x 11″, PDF), print it out, refer to it, and share it with others!

Subscribe to Coop Thoughts. We’ll email you the latest posts as they happen. It’s free, ad-free, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Click here to add your name to the list.

Winter Chicken Coop Care, Pt. 2: How chickens keep themselves warm — and how you can help them.

Monday, November 15th, 2010

This is the second in a four-part series on preparing your backyard chickens and coop for cold weather.

Most standard laying hens are quite cold hardy (check this handy breed chart). Just look at their names: Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire Red. . . . These girls were bred to withstand cold climates well before the advent of electric heat. So how do they manage to withstand temperatures that send us scampering for the nearest cup of cocoa? (more…)

Make It Your Own: Robbie Cape’s “Cozi” Coop, Seattle, Washington

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

The Garden Ark mobile poultry pen, Seattle, Washington

As CEO and co-founder of the free online family organizer Cozi, Robbie Cape appreciates keeping things simple. His company has helped countless families manage their schedules (without paper calendars) and find more time for the things they love.

So when Robbie decided to build a portable chicken coop for his family’s backyard flock in Seattle, Washington, he wasn’t about to waste precious time. He chose The Garden Ark mobile chicken coop plans from TheGardenCoop.com and started building his coop right away. (more…)