We learned a lot and had some fun raising chickens, and the neighbors didn't seem to mind too much. The meat and extra eggs were nice as well. This is definitely something we will do again in the spring, but there are a few things I will do differently.
- Make the chicken run around the coop bigger. It was originally supposed to be bigger but I ran out of time and ran into big rocks on the one corner. So I let them free range a lot, which wasn't terrible, but led to some minor annoyances here and there.
- Make a nest box. I meant to do this but again ran out of time. Then I read about chickens not laying until they are 6-8 months old, so figured they would all be gone by then anyways. Then my neighbor Dave started finding eggs in his flower garden, and we started finding eggs in our barn. If we start them with a nest box and minimize the free ranging, we should have to go on Easter egg hunts all the time.
- Make the chicken run higher or put a top on it. Even when I closed the chickens in, they literally flew the coop and got out anyways.
- Get some bigger meat chickens. The Buff Orpington's and Rhode Island Reds we got are known as dual purpose birds, good eating size plus good layers. It seemed to take forever for these birds to reach a good eating size, so next time I will get some Cornish X Rocks or other big meaty type birds as well as the Buff's and Red's.
- Get an open watering trough. The watering jug I got is a pain, since you have to take it apart and turn it over to fill, then put it together and turn it back over. It would be so much easier (and drier) to just pour water into a trough instead of messing with that thing.