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Home & Garden
home : features : home & garden
September 23, 2020

7/31/2020 2:23:00 PM
Homes for Hens
Chris Cameron

It all started with his daughter “chicken-sitting.” One day Erick Phelps arrived home to find a chicken coop in his backyard and chickens roaming around. During the time they were taking care of the chickens, the family found they enjoyed watching them foraging in the yard, and as domesticated birds, they could be touched and held. After the chickens’ owner took them back, Erick and his wife, Christi, found they missed the entertainment the chickens provided when they were sitting on their lanai. Deciding to have a few of their own, Erick started looking for a suitable chicken coop online but everything he saw was “just junk” for the money and would not hold up over time. So, he decided to build his own.

Erick had a background as a cabinet builder, so he had some knowledge of quality materials and he designed his first chicken coop to meet the Sarasota County Code for backyard residential chicken coops. When COVID-19 erupted, he had the time to further improve his coop and coop/run designs by doing extensive research and decided to offer them for sale.

Erick focuses on just backyard residential coops that conform to Sarasota County Code and the proposed Charlotte County Ordinance. He uses 100% pressure treated boards, deck and siding so they last for more than one or two seasons. He also uses stainless steel screws, galvanized roofing, hinges and hardware cloth. He can add a radiant barrier for coops in sun drenched locations. Inside the coop are removable nesting boxes, an elevated roosting bar and a door for easy cleaning and replenishing of pine straw or shavings. The coops are portable so they can be moved around. 

Erick offers coops with attached runs or just the coop itself for chickens who mostly free-range feed. Sarasota County allows up to four chickens per yard but no roosters. He follows Sarasota County’s requirement that each coop has an allowance of four-square feet per chicken when they are inside for the night. Skimping on space can cause stress, cannibalism, pecking and even death among tightly crowded chickens.

There are two Facebook groups focused on keeping backyard chickens: Sarasota CLUCK and Charlotte CLUCK. When asked what someone who is thinking about getting chickens should consider, he laughed and said, “Expect a lot of eggs!” He also advises chicken owners to be very aware of possible predators such as raccoons, bobcats and for younger chicks, predator birds swooping down. In his experience he has found chickens are a lot easier than dogs. For chicks, food and supplies, he suggests family-run Ballards Feed, 525 Havana Road, Venice.

If you would like to contact Erick to find out more about his chicken coops, you can reach him through his website www.coopsdujour.com and Facebook page. You can also call him at 376•2159.

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