Enjoy More Eggs

This portable mini-coop lets your chickens enjoy fresh pasture while keeping them safe from predators — and out of your garden.

We live in the country and have kept hens for more than seven years, so I was delighted to read your series of articles on these comic critters (“Eggstravaganza”) in the February/March 2003 issue.

Your portable coop is a great idea and has the added advantage of keeping the eggs where they can be found easily (unless a daily egg hunt is considered a fun family activity).

Two tips for the novice: As the winter solstice approaches, days grow shorter and egg production naturally declines. A single, 100-watt lightbulb, plugged into an inexpensive timer and set to come on about 3 a.m. and go off at dawn, will simulate close to the 14 hours of daylight chickens seem to prefer for daily egg-laying. (One note of caution: Hens are curious creatures and will peck at almost anything, so the lightbulb should be mounted well out of their reach)

Also, hens are drawn to the rich soil of flower beds and veggie plots, but their scratching for bugs can be incredibly destructive. Under their busy feet, carefully laid mulch will go flying, along with newly planted annuals and tender, young seedlings! Keeping them in the portable coop allows you to control where they scratch for bugs, too, helping protect your garden.

Wilderville, Oregon