An important part of our chicken-raising strategy is to reduce environmental impact. Our chickens live at Double Creek, a small school in Portland, Oregon. The children designed and built the coop and do most of the chicken care. They have come up with great ways to make our backyard flock sustainable.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
When constructing our coop, we used reclaimed wood, scrap roofing, mis-mixed paint, and reused stepping stones and cinder blocks. If we hadn’t used these things, they would have ended up in the landfill.
We have taken to dumping our lawn clippings, leaves and other chicken-safe yard debris in their large run. It breaks down much faster and keeps the hens amused. We also supplement commercial bedding with shredded paper in their nesting boxes and coop. The older kids enjoy using the paper shredder and watching the paper turn back to soil.
Our chicken feeder is a 5-gallon bucket which was previously restaurant packaging for human food. We give our chickens water with a watering system made of scraps of PVC pipe attached to another 5-gallon bucket. The chickens enthusiastically consume our fruit and vegetable scraps. They also provide great inspiration to get the kids weeding; the chickens love dandelions!
Rich Fertilizer for the Garden
We regularly scoop out the coop and clean all the old bedding out of the small run every few months. The waste spends a year decomposing and then becomes rich fertilizer for our garden beds. The kids love planning and caring for our vegetable garden. They even plant chicken-friendly plants just outside the run to offer shade and give the chickens a tasty treat.
Keeping chickens has been a great experience. The kids at our school have come up with many creative ways to reduce waste while spoiling our seven special birds.
— Joy Geren, Beaverton, Oregon
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2023 issue of Chickens magazine as a “Cool Coop” feature. Have a cool coop you’d like to share? Email us a short write-up (~250 to 500 words) about your chicken coop along with a few images to email@example.com with the subject line One Cool Coop, and include your name and mailing address. Check out Chickens magazine for current prizes and contest rules.