How To Build A Chicken Coop

Raise your very own chickens and have fresh eggs all the time, just like Molly Yeh!

Photo by: Dougal Waters / Getty Images

Dougal Waters / Getty Images

If you've watched an episode of Girl Meets Farm recently, you probably know a thing or two about Molly Yeh's 12 chickens, all named Macaroni. Apart from being a great source for fresh eggs, raising chickens has become a popular trend among home owners, especially those in California's Silicon Valley.

But what does it mean to raise and own chickens? And how does one go about building a chicken coop to keep feathered friends sheltered, safe and warm? Food Network Magazine's got the answers to all your questions below! Here’s how to get started.

First, Is It Legal?

Before you proceed, make sure your town or zoning board allows you to keep chickens. Many cities have guidelines for how many chickens you can have, waste disposal and how far the coop must be from property lines.

Gear Up

Keep reading to learn about all the essential supplies you'll need!

Brooder box

When the chicks arrive, they’ll need to be kept in their own little pen, stocked with water, food and a heat lamp for the first six weeks.

Coop

You’ll need a weatherproof spot outdoors outfitted with wood beams for roosting and nesting boxes for laying. Install one box for every five chickens and fill them with pine shavings or clean straw to cushion the eggs.

Water and Food

Start with a simple, inexpensive waterer from a pet store and store-bought feed, occasionally supplemented with fruits and veggies. Don’t leave food out overnigh — it can attract rodents.

Wire Fencing

You’ll need a fence around the coop to keep predators at bay. Fencing should extend at least one foot into the ground so burrowing animals can’t get through.

Heat

To keep the coop warm year-round, try a 250-watt infrared heat lamp. Position it carefully; it can be a fire hazard.

Pick Your Chicks

Read up on breeds to figure out which ones will thrive where you live. Some chickens are big egg layers; some are calm and friendly; some, like Molly’s, fare well in cold weather. You can find chicks at a farm-supply store or from online sources like Murray McMurray Hatchery in Iowa.

Raise Them Right!

Being a parent of chickens comes with daily obligations, including feeding, cleaning up waste, collecting eggs and making sure the chickens are safe from predators. If you go on vacation, you’ll need a sitter!

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