Thinking about starting a homestead, but concerned that it’s too much work? I’m sharing homesteading shortcuts to make raising chickens easier. Don’t worry, goat owners. I’ll share goat shortcuts in a future post!
*All photos in this post are from Red Maple Photography*
Homesteading shortcuts to make raising chickens easier
When people learn that we have a homestead, one of the first questions we receive is “but isn’t it a lot of work?” The answer is a bit more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.” Of course, homesteading adds a dimension that makes life more complicated. But are we spending multiple hours each day taking care of animals? Absolutely not. Over the past year+ of homesteading, we’ve figured out ways to save time (and money) in order to make our backyard farm run efficiently. As long as you take the time to adequately plan and set up your homestead, then you can drastically reduce the amount of time spent on chores. I’m sharing some homesteading shortcuts to make homesteading easier in this post!
CHICKENS: homesteading shortcuts to make raising chickens easier
Once chickens reach adulthood, they’re ridiculously low maintenance. With the exception of needing someone to collect daily eggs and fill up the water bucket, we could easily leave our chickens for 1- 2 weeks. Yep, you read that right. Our chickens can easily sustain themselves for up to TWO WEEKS. How is that even possible? Let me explain with some homesteading shortcuts to make raising chickens easier.
When we designed our homestead, we wanted to cut down on the amount of necessary daily chores. Does filling chicken feeders really take much time? Of course not, but if you can create multiple quick homesteading shortcuts to make raising chickens easier, then your homestead will run more efficiently. Although we have 20 chickens, we rarely need to fill their feeders. Ben built DIY feeders out of PVC pipe that holds ** amount of food and grit. Every morning, I simply glance into the chicken run to double check if the feeders are full. During the warmer months, the chickens eat more bugs and don’t eat as much feed, so the feeders stay full for long periods of time. Our chickens eat more feed during the winter months, simply because there’s less bugs to eat.
You can purchase chicken waterers, but we prefer to make our own. Ben made our waterer out of a 5 gallon plastic bucket and automatic chicken water nipples. The large size allows us to fill up the water less frequently, but it’s super heavy to carry across the farm. (We don’t have water hookup next to the coop.) Again, no need to refill the water everyday, but I always double check that the bucket is full. Our girls obviously drink way more water during the summer months, so we fill up the water more frequently in summer than in the winter months. We use this heated 2 gallon poultry drinker when the weather gets below freezing. It’s smaller, but seeing as the chickens drink less water in winter, we still don’t need to refill it everyday.
Automatic chicken coop door
If you’re going to splurge on one item for your chickens, then THIS IS IT. Seriously, this thing is a game changer. It saves you SO MUCH TIME. Hands down, it’s the best homesteading shortcut to make raising chickens easier. Seeing as we have an automatic chicken coop door, we never need to let our chickens out in the morning or put them to bed at night. We simply set the door to open at a certain time every morning and close at a certain time every night.
If you choose to purchase this door, then remember that you will probably need to adjust the open/close time as the seasons change. For example, we typically set our door to close every night when the sun sets. Our chickens are trained to put themselves to bed every night, so we rarely check that everyone is in the coop. The automatic chicken coop door is also amazing if you’re planning to travel, because your girls can basically take care of themselves! Win win. (Our automatic coop door is no longer offered on Amazon, but this one has great reviews.)
Deep litter method
Total transparency – I don’t clean out the coop. Our chicken coop is raised a few feet off the ground, so you basically need to climb inside to clean it. I’m happy to shovel goat poop for days, but rolling around in chicken poop is where I draw the line. I’m pretty much a recovering germ-freak, so my wonderful husband takes the lead on cleaning out the coop. We use the deep litter method, which means that we only need to clean out the coop every 3-4 months, Some people clean their coop once a year (or longer!), but that seems a bit intense for my liking.
We have a wood coop floor lined with roll out vinyl to make for easy clean up. To start the deep litter method, Ben adds a generous layer of pine shavings on the coop floor. When the pine shavings are covered with too much poop, then we add another layer of pine shavings. We’ll also sprinkle some Sweet PDZ in the coop when it needs a bit of freshening up. The frequency of adding the pine shavings varies. With the exception of nighttime and laying eggs, our girls rarely spend time in the coop. Less time in the coop+ less mess = less clean up. This homesteading shortcut definitely makes raising chickens easier!
Homesteading shortcut safety tip – COOP CLEANING
When cleaning out the coop, it’s recommended to wear a respirator due to the dust from sweeping the coop. Ben already has a Hepa respirator for work, so he uses that. The Hepa respirator filters out super fine particles, so it’s a much safer option than simply wearing a mask. It might sound like a silly precaution, but you can potentially get super sick (especially if you have a dirt floor coop.) It’s not worth the risk, friends. I’m happy to share more information about this point if you have any questions.
Homesteading shortcuts to make raising chickens easier:
Do you have any other shortcuts? Let me know in the comments below.