Our biggest project so far this year has been building the chicken coop. I'm happy to say that what began as 5 carts loaded with lumber and supplies has become a fully functional chicken coop that is home to 20, week-old Australorp chickens. We finished in the nick of time too - our chickens came 2 days after the final coat of paint went on!
Our chickens are a laying breed of chicken that's acclimated to our colder winter climate while being more docile than average and also producing well. We figure when they are at peak egg production the flock will lay around 15 eggs per day! You might be thinking, "What do they plan to do with all these eggs?" We intend on selling them as an add-on to our CSA, through the Mankato Farmers' Market, and through our website in the off-season as well as eating a bunch of them ourselves.
There's a lot of jargon and terminology that comes with chickens and eggs: pasture-raised, cage free, free range, organic, non-GMO fed, etc. Instead of blasting you with jargon we're just going to tell you up front how they're raised and fed. We built the coop so that it can move around our property by pulling it with our tractor. We intend to move the coop, and thus the chickens, around our yard in a large electric net fence that keeps the would-be predators out. The chickens will have access to the outdoors and grass so that they can eat bugs and things they find in the yard. We will be supplementing their diet of bugs and things with a mix of grain specifically for poultry. We hope that the majority of their diet will come from what they forage from our yard. We also intend to use them in our large garden at homes off season to clean up bugs and fertilize our soil. Our chickens will NOT be pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones and will NOT be confined to cages when they lay or ever. They will be able to fully express their chicken-ness as Joel Salatin would say.
We expect to start getting eggs sometime next spring. We can't wait!