The 10 Best Chicken Coops
We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Having your own flock of laying hens can be a great way to ensure you've always got fresh eggs on hand, and you don't need a big barn or complicated setup to get started. With one of these cozy chicken coops to provide protection from the elements and predators, all that's left to do is give them some inexpensive feed and a steady supply of drinking water to enjoy all the omelettes you can eat. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best chicken coop on Amazon.
A Brief History Of Domesticating Chickens
Some facilities contain upwards of a quarter million birds at a time.
Feed is also used to pump chickens with antibiotics that prevent them from contracting diseases, allowing them to be packed closer together.
Chickens are the most popular domesticated birds in the world. Each year, over 50 billion of them are raised to provide meat and eggs for human consumption. While they are one of the most popular sources of protein on the planet and, as of recent years, the single most popular meat in the United States, this was not always the case. In fact, large-scale chicken farming is only a few hundred years old.
The first chickens were domesticated at least 7,000 years ago. This is based on the discovery of chicken bone fossils in northeastern China that date back to 5400 B.C.E. Scientists were able to determine that these were not the bones of wild chickens because the birds are not indigenous to the cold, dry plains of the region. Instead, they were brought from Southeast Asia, where the red junglefowl, the domesticated chicken's primary progenitor, has existed for millions of years.
Based on studies of mitochondrial DNA found in ancient chicken bones around the world, scientists have traced the lineage of all domesticated chickens back to those found in Asia. From there, they made their way to Europe and, later, to European colonies in the Americas. The domesticated birds would also eventually replace the native guinea fowl as the poultry of choice in Africa, largely due to their poor flight abilities, which makes them easier to capture, raise, and kill.
While the vast majority of chickens raised now are destined for dinner plates around the world, it is believed that they were originally domesticated not for eating but for fighting. Technically, the animals of interest were roosters, though they couldn't have existed without hens . Evidence of cockfighting as a spectator sport dates back over 4,000 years, to ancient civilizations in the Indus Valley. The practice has remained popular throughout history, though it is now outlawed in many parts of the world, including all 50 American states.
Evidence of egg harvesting dates back to Ancient Egypt, where eggs were a symbol of fertility. The Egyptians developed complex methods of incubation where eggs were kept in temperature controlled spaces in order to efficiently breed more chickens. The ancient Romans, by contrast, considered chicken meat a delicacy. Roman farmers spent centuries strategically fattening the birds, though they returned to their natural size after the fall of the empire.
Chicken farming didn't explode in popularity until the mid-20th century. This was due to the advent of fortified feed, which supplies the birds with the vitamins they need from grazing and sunlight, allowing them to be raised indoors. Feed is also used to pump chickens with antibiotics that prevent them from contracting diseases, allowing them to be packed closer together.
Indoor chicken farms protect the birds from bad weather and natural predators. Todays chicken farms are overflowing to cope with consumer demand, which has increased dramatically in recent years. Some facilities contain upwards of a quarter million birds at a time. Today, it's estimated that the average American consumes 80 pounds of chicken meat each year.
The Benefits Of Maintaining Your Own Coop
Today's factory farmed chicken is full of antibiotics and hormones used to make the birds grow bigger, yielding additional profits. Industrial chicken farms are not a pretty sight. They are dirty, overcrowded, and often inhumane. While there have been some advancements in protecting poultry raised as livestock in the European Union in recent years, the United States still allows farmers to keep the birds in cages barely larger than their bodies.
The type of coop you choose depends on your needs as well as where you live.
To protect yourself from ingesting the chemicals in store bought chicken, not to mention put some distance between yourself and the animal cruelty of the poultry industry, you might want to consider raising chickens of your own. While it may seem like a farfetched concept, about 1 in every 100 households in the United States has its own chicken coop.
Anybody with a bit of outdoor space can raise chickens. The benefits you'll reap will include a constant supply of incredibly fresh eggs, delicious and humanely raised meat on your dinner table, and a few pets to keep you company. If you're interested, it's a good idea to invest in a coop to contain your chickens and protect them from predators, even if you let them roam free during the day.
The type of coop you choose depends on your needs as well as where you live. If you live in an area with a lot of precipitation, make sure to choose one with adequate sheltered space. This will benefit both you and your chickens, as wet feed and hay aren't the best smelling additions you could make to your property. If you plan on allowing your chickens out of the coop, make sure to choose one that's easy to corral them back into at the end of the day. If you don't, the fewer possible points of exit, the better.
To ensure the happiness of your birds, make sure to stock your coop with a healthy supply of feed, water, and insulation in winter. You may want to cover the surface with hay to make it easier to clean as well.
My Own Experience Living With Chickens
I once spent about a month on a farm where the proprietors raised goats, rabbits, and chickens. I was new to the livestock enterprise, but I found several benefits the chickens had over the other animals.
For one thing, roosters make great alarm clocks. They help keep you on schedule with the sun, which, if you don't have nighttime obligations, is a great way to regulate your body's internal clock. Furthermore, while goats and rabbits may provide a few delicious meals when their lives are over, chickens are the gift that keeps on giving.
Waking up to fresh eggs every day is more of a treat than you might think. They're also fun to collect, and it's a beautiful thing to personally know the chicken that laid the eggs with which you made your omelette. Just don't let her know what you did with them.
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