Chicken care websites, books, and magazine articles list items absolutely necessary to care for a small chicken flock. Feeders, nests, roosts, food storage bins, and waterers are bottom line essentials. Sometimes these sources neglect the other tools and supplies that make flock keeping easier. They are downright handy to keep on hand. Here is a a short list of helpful coop items:
For Managing Hens
Portable nest box: When a hen goes broody, she’ll dominate a nest that others need to lay in. Broodys don’t like people taking eggs and will put up a fuss and peck fingers. It’s handy to have an extra nest box on hand reserved a broody hen. Put a few golf balls in the portable nest and place it in an out of the way spot, perhaps in a tiny separate coop. Introduce the broody, and she’ll likely be content to sit on the golf balls, letting the still laying hens use the regular nests. Make sure broody can’t access the old nest but has food and water nearby.
Pet carrier: a small inexpensive pet carrier is useful for transporting a sick or injured bird to the vet. A large pet carrier functions well if a hen needs to live in isolation while recovering from an injury or illness or is broody.
Shoo Sticks: When it’s time to secure them for the evening, chickens are nearly impossible to herd from their outdoor run into the coop. They’ll enter on their own at sundown, but sometimes their human caretaker needs to leave early in the day and won’t return until well after dark. An open pop hole door welcomes hungry raccoons to enter and snatch a sleeping hen off the roost to enjoy for dinner. A pair of three or four-foot long wooden dowels makes herding chickens into the coop easier. They essentially make human arms longer and help direct hens from the run, through the pop hole door and into the coop. In a pinch, a lightweight leaf rake also works.
Dried mealworms: Even better than shoo sticks are dried mealworms. Chickens love them. Need to move the hens from their run into the coop before twilight? Sprinkle a handful of dried mealworms well inside the coop and hens will enthusiastically run inside. While they’re gobbling up the treats close the pop hole door, and they’re safely tucked in for the night. Bulk quantities of dried mealworms can be ordered from several sources online. Store them in a metal container with a tight-fitting lid and they’ll keep for months. Mealworms are expensive so only a small handful is needed to lure hens inside for a protein-packed special treat.
Other Helpful Items to Keep Handy
Extra waterer. Every once in a while, a waterer springs a leak. It’s handy to have a spare in reserve.
Hand sanitizer: Thoroughly washing hands after handling chickens or working in the coop is important before eating. Soap and water aren’t always available, so a tube of hand sanitizer works in a pinch.
Mouse Traps: Yup, coops attract these tiny feed thieves. Be sure to set traps in places inaccessible to chickens, pets, and children.
Small spool of wire and pliers: Handy to fix holes in wire screening.
Feed Scoops: An empty tin can works to transfer feed from storage into a feeder but a purchased, inexpensive scoop is easier to use and spills less feed.
Egg basket: A small wicker basket with a handle makes transporting eggs easier. There is less chance one will be dropped and break.
Duct tape: Few items are as useful for temporary fixes. Duct tape can be used to cover a hole in a fence or plug a leaking waterer. And it has dozens of other uses.
Square point shovel: A shovel with a rectangular blade (as opposed to a rounded blade for digging dirt) is useful for digging out wet or old litter.
Bag of wood shavings: Once in a while a waterer tips over and coop litter gets wet. That’s a recipe for odor. Use the square point shovel to remove and compost soggy wood shavings and replace them with fresh, dry ones.
Extra metal trash can: Most people buy new bags of feed when there’s still some old feed left in the storage bin. Chicken feed spoils. Instead of dumping fresh feed on top of the remaining old stuff first put the old feed into an empty spare metal bin (a trash can works fine). Then pour the fresh feed into the storage bin and put the old feed on top of it. That way you will use the oldest feed first.
Wall thermometer: Nice to know the temperature inside the coop.
Clipboard, pad, and pencil: Always helpful for taking notes.
Hoover’s Hatchery Catalog: It’s a resource book useful to refer to articles on.
Breeds, Sanitation, and Latest Tips
Drill, bits, screws, scrap lumber, and saw. Every once in a while something needs
fixing, often a loose or broken board. Having common carpentry tools handy and scrap wood ready makes repairs easier and avoids a trip to the lumber yard.
Broom: Handy to brush away cobwebs that seem to quickly form in the coop.
Scrub Brush: Waterers get scummy. Regularly thoroughly scrubbing them with a brush, soap, and hot water keeps them clean and reduces the chance of disease.
Glass Cleaner and paper towels: Dirty windows block sunshine that stimulates hens to lay. Clean glass lets more light enter the coop.
Blower: Chickens create dust. Waterers, shelves, window ledges, and any other surfaces quickly get dusty. A blower is more efficient than a broom to remove dust. A portable, battery-operated vacuum cleaner set on the “blow” mode makes quick dusting easy. A leaf blower also works well. Wear ear muffs to protect your hearing.
Fan: On sultry summer nights chickens love a breeze. A portable battery powered fan creates an artificial breeze that can be pointed at roosting hens. It helps them enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep.
Caulking gun and tube of caulk: Caulk fills cracks and holes that keep cold air, insects, and even mice out of the coop.
Flashlight: Makes checking the hens and coop easy on dark nights.
Folding Chair: Chickens are fun to watch. Having a chair handy makes viewing comfortable.
Hand axe: Gulp. Once in a while a chicken gets seriously injured or is ill…….or needs to be repurposed into stew. Few people like to kill a chicken but an axe makes euthanizing a bird fast.
Stocking the coop with handy tools and supplies makes flock care easy and joyful.