Five Things You Need to Know about Having Chickens
01 Where You Can Have Chickens in Boulder
If you live on land classified as suburban residential in Boulder… guess what! You can have a chicken coop! For suburban residences, eight hens are allotted per residence. Roosters, however, are not allowed on suburban residential lots because they can make a lot of noise!
02 The Chicken Coop – The Basics
Every chicken coop is comprised of two main components: an enclosed space used for sleeping and laying eggs, and the “chicken run,” an open air space so the chickens can spend time outside during the day. The enclosed space should be elevated at least a couple of feet above the run to allow for droppings to collect under the shelter. As far as the size of both of these components, the general rule is to allow 2-3 square feet per chicken inside the coop, and 4-5 square feet per chicken in the run.
Like people, chickens don’t usually enjoy being out in the Colorado sun in the heat of a summer’s day! Locating your coop near the shade of a tree is the best option – it allows the birds to stay cool in the summer and, in the winter once the leaves are gone, the hens can stay in the sun all day. If you don’t have access to a shady tree, add a layer of shade cloth to the chicken wire on the top of the run.
03 What Materials Do I Need?
The enclosed shelter for sleeping/ laying eggs should be built with naturally rot-resistant wood, such as cedar or redwood. It’s best to avoid pre-treated wood if possible as a lot of treatments contain chemicals that could harm your chickens’ health.
All sides of the chicken run should be enclosed with a wire mesh to protect the birds from potential predators. The floor of the run can be lined with a layer of straw, which will help to absorb both chicken droppings and rain moisture.
04 First Aid Kit
In case you’re new to all this, here’s what your ‘chick’ box should contain:
• Q-tips: For cleaning the muck of your chicks
• Pipe cleaners: These are used if a chick has ‘curled toes’
• Small pair of scissors: For snipping badly matted fluff (use extremely carefully)
• Electrolyte solution: For poorly birds that need an extra boost
• Bandaids: Use to treat ‘spraddle’ leg*
*Spraddle or splayed leg is caused by the chick trying to walk on smooth surfaces such as plastic or cardboard. Easily prevented by using paper towels, burlap or similar under the shavings for the first week or so. Once the leg muscles are strong enough, the burlap can be removed.
05 And Just In Case You Need Some Incentive…A Few Fun Facts About Chickens
- Chickens use more than 24 distinct vocalizations to communicate with one another… their language!
- Chickens eat EVERYTHING. If you have a garden you were considering letting the hens near, be prepared to see it demolished.
- As you may have guessed from their eating habits, chickens are the closest living relative to the Tyrannosaurus Rex!
- Mother hens “talk” to their unborn babies… cooing and purring at them before they have hatched.