The residents at Forest View Place will soon be collecting farm-fresh eggs.
A project to build a chicken coop and house for point of lay (or matured) hens has received the green light.
“The residents are so excited,” said Nicole Weber, recreation coordinator for Forest View Place, a long-term care facility. “To see the residents when they interact with animals, kids, anything like that, they love it. Their eyes light right up.”
Nineteen eggs have been put into an incubator which sits on a trolly to be brought around to the residents so they can watch the chicks as they hatch over the following weeks. Once they hatch, the residents can enjoy some time cuddling with the balls of fluff.
As they don’t have the proper equipment to raise the chicks, Forest View will put them up for sale, and bring in the point of lay hens for the coop. It is currently looking at various options, including donations of hens from the community. Anyone who would like to help out can contact Weber at Forest View Place.
She said between baking and their breakfast club, the facility goes through a lot of eggs, but it’s not the main reason for raising the chickens.
“It’s their generation,” she explained. “Pretty much 80 to 90 per cent of them had chickens growing up. They all were on a farm and it brings back those memories…and animal therapy, it doesn’t matter what animal it is, it’s still there for them.”
The group will be getting a helping hand from a now-retired local carpenter, Daniel Boudreau, who will be building the chicken coop and fencing, with assistance from some friends in the community.
He said the coop will be made from 15 to 20 panels that assemble together to form a round enclosure and the chicken house will be along the sidewalk with netting to cover the top to protect the birds from predators. The idea is that it can all be dismantled very easily, using minimal screws and creating a ziplock-style system.
The nesting boxes will also be at a level accessible to seniors, he added, so it’s easier for them to look at the chickens and grab the eggs.
“Pretend you’re on a walker and you’re going to look for an egg — that will be the height,” Boudreau said.
Weber also reached out to another facility in Castlegar that brought in chickens and said it was a no-brainer to do the same following feedback about what they’ve experienced and how the residents interact with them.
As the pandemic continues, residents in the long-term care facility have had limited visits from their family and friends. Forest View would usually have brought in puppies for animal therapy, but that has been put on hold so the chickens will be a positive addition.
“It’s going to be huge,” said Weber.