During the COVID lockdowns, there was a resurgence in keeping chickens in backyard coops, and this experience highlighted a few things for me.
We were one of the very many families that went out and became hen owners, a move designed to ensure that a supply of fresh eggs would be on hand, regardless of the duration of the lockdown.
I must admit, keeping hens was certainly not on our radar before we had heard of COVID and we had no experience at all in how to house or care for chickens!
So, it was a bit of a steep learning curve for us, and maybe not surprisingly, some beginner mistakes were made.
One of those beginner mistakes was selecting the wrong chicken coop for our hens. In hindsight, it was a design that fell short in several ways.
Firstly, it didn’t really give them enough protection from the elements. Their roosts (the place they lay their eggs) were the wrong size and they were too exposed to our two harmless, but nonetheless very curious big dogs.
The hens weren’t happy, in fact, they were stressed, and our expected egg supply ground to a complete halt.
We kept feeding them, sure, but we couldn’t work out why there wasn’t a nice fresh egg being produced in return each morning.
Finally realizing that the conditions we had supplied to the hens weren’t helping them reach their potential, we sought some advice and went back to the drawing board.
We managed to source a larger chicken coop, one that gave them more room to move around, and more protection from the elements (and their curious canine siblings!).
For example, in the new coop, they could still scratch around in the dirt to try and find worms to eat under cover from the rain.
The upgraded coop also had a couple of perches as well, and I quickly learned that chickens love to sleep on a perch!
Most importantly, the new coop helped the hens feel more protected, and more content and they were less stressed.
Lo and behold, eggs started to come at such a rate that we were struggling to keep up and we were even able to give trays of eggs away to our friends and family.
I’m sure there’s probably a lesson to be learned that crosses from happy and stress-free hens to us humans (in particular, regarding relationships!)…but I’ll let you work that one out.