Raising Chickens: From Rural to Urban Timber Frame Living

Timberpeg Farmhouse Built by Smith & Robertson, Inc. - www.smithandrobertson.com

A timber frame home can easily project a bucolic image, so it is no surprise that Timberpeg owners frequently keep magnificent gardens. While plant growing is popular everywhere, recently raising urban livestock has seen a resurgence in popularity. Urban livestock used to be more common; pigs, for example, could be kept in Manhattan before 1860. While most cities have banned livestock for health reasons, the raising of chickens is allowed in many communities. And since many Timberpeg homes are built in rural locations, we also find that our own customers look forward to having some of their own livestock. While roosters are usually forbidden in urban locations due to their noise, hens will lay eggs on their own with minimal noise, while eating bugs in the garden and providing fertilizer. If your community allows backyard chickens and the concept interests you, here are some items to consider before you start.

Select Your Breeds



Before rushing out to buy chickens, make sure you select an appropriate breed for your needs. Bantam birds are smaller varieties that need less space and feed, but will also produce less meat or eggs. You can also select birds for their markings or egg shell color if you desire. For all-around egg laying birds, the Rhode Island Red and Plymouth Rock are popular choices for their high output and hardiness.

Build A Coop

If you're not feeling so handy, many companies sell pre-made chicken coops, such as this one for sale from Williams-Sonoma.

While chickens can free-range in the yard during the day, they will need a shelter for egg-laying and protection from predators at night. The most popular choice for small lots is a coop with an attached run. Chickens need about four square feet inside and ten square feet of run per bird. The coop should be ventilated but not drafty, and must also feature a laying box. It helps if this area has outside access for harvesting eggs and cleaning the coop. Another popular idea for a coop is what is known as a chicken tractor. This open-floored structure can be dragged through the yard so that the chickens can forage in different areas. This allows them to eat bugs and trim grass without over grazing, and their manure can help fertilize as well. Whichever coop design you decide upon, you can find plans online or order pre-built coops.

Use Appropriate Feed

When feeding laying hens, you will want to use “layer feed”. This type of feed is specially designed to meet hens' needs when laying eggs. Nevertheless, hens may need supplementary calcium while laying, so providing them with crushed-up egg shells or bone meal can be beneficial. Also, if you wish for organic eggs make sure your feed is also organic. You can also feed the hens table scraps or grains like oats, but make sure to only feed them a small amount so their diet remains balanced.

Victory Barn at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA

 

Does the idea of fresh laid eggs and a custom-designed timber frame home kitchen to cook them in sound exciting to you?  We're hungry just thinking about all the omlettes, soufflés and eggs over easy right now!  If you'd like to learn more about designing a timber frame home complete with considerations for all your hobbies, including raising chickens, then contact the team at Timberpeg to learn more.  And, note that several of the team members have chicken raising experience, so feel free to leave a question in the comments as well.