We started out with a store bought "coop kit in a box" and had that outside for about a day before we felt it wasn't secure enough. We ended up giving it to our neighbors for their free ranging ducks
We decided to build our coop from scratch to make sure it lasted as long as possible. After doing some research we decided on the following plans
The first flock we got we let our two girls pick out their own. They each picked a bantam, which is smaller than regular chickens. One ended up being a rooster which we replaced with another Buff Orpington. It was early enough that they all accepted each other.
The first flock we got in spring and had them in a tub in our basement. The girls loved them and visited with treats. We were able to work on finishing the coop while they grew their feathers to get outside. They started laying late summer.
Our second flock, we decided to try fall chicks so we got them in August and they stayed in our garage. They had all their feathers in time to go out to the coop over the winter and started laying in January.
The meat chickens were also kept in the garage and used our mobile chicken run to be able to have some grass time.
My kids say the best thing about having chickens is that they give us delicious eggs and that they come running when there are treats coming. It has been so much fun watching our kids be so excited about having and keeping our animals. They gain so many life skills just by having them. Between feeding them, cleaning their coop, egg recipes and reading to them it covers so many important lessons!
It has also helped them learn about where food comes from. When we first got our chickens they were just egg layers but since then we have added Cornish Cross aka meat chickens. These are chickens bred specifically for meat and grow very quickly. Chick to freezer is about 8 weeks. The girls loved snuggling with them and watching them grow and then we thanked them and filled our freezer. They know that when we have a roast chicken it was from an animal that they helped care for.
Since our kids were fairly young when we really started getting into this we weren't very worried about how they would react, but we are still pleasantly surprised at how well they respond to it all. If you want your kids to learn where food really comes from, the sacrifices that are made, and feel the amazing responsibility of feeding the family, add some chickens!
We got this book for our kids, but found myself referring back to it multiple times when we first got chickens. It has continued to be a great resource.
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