Count Your Eggs

Backyard hens mix friendly pets with food savings.

With the price of eggs going up, you may be tempted to start your own chicken coop. Kristen Holt Burckhartt first got chickens in March 2020. Her daughter suggested the idea, and Burckhartt thought, “Why not?”

“Like many people, we expanded our gardens during COVID, and keeping chickens sounded like another way to be more self-sufficient,” she says.

Along the way, Burckhartt, owner of Holt Travel Service, learned how to care for and what to expect from chickens, who aren’t quite pets but definitely come with their own personalities.

Before starting your own coop, read your community’s bylaws.

“Roosters aren’t normally allowed, and you can’t keep a chicken run in a multiple-family dwelling,” Burckhartt explains.

Photo of Kristen Holt Burkhartt's chickens by Jodi Keen
Photo by Jodi Keen

Her chickens — who sport names like Butter, Marge, Jaune, and Little Red — tend to lay daily, so the six hens you’re allowed to keep in Evansville could yield as many eggs every day — a major boon in the face of inflation. But beware that you may lose half your coop to predators and illness. “

We have been lucky that we haven’t had any predators,” Burckhartt says, “even though I’ve seen hawks sitting in trees looking down at the girls.”

For these reasons, Burckhartt had the chicken wire at her Sunset Avenue home buried deeper into the ground and kept her chicken run somewhat narrower.

“With the narrow opening from above, hawks and owls can’t swoop down into the coop, and it’s kept the chickens safe,” she says. “I used to overthink everything and worry all the time about the chickens, but they can survive on their own quite well.”

In fact, Burckhartt recalls when Butter used to disappear on her own adventures.

We’ve thought about putting a Go-Pro on her to see where she wanders off to,” Burckhartt says.

Photo of Kristen Holt Burkhartt's eggs
Photo by Jodi Keen

Being around the chickens has prompted Burckhartt to rethink her relationship with poultry.

“I can’t imagine chickens being kept any other way than how we raise them. My husband and I laugh sometimes that these chickens landed in tall clover and sure lead a charmed life,” she says.

She performs a deep clean every six weeks and feeds her chickens the best food, including fresh blueberries and raspberries.

“You can tell because these eggs they lay are beautiful and delicious,” she says.

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Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

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