An Egg-celent Project

John (l.) and sons, John (c.) and Luke, in front of the coop.

September 17, 2020

Jersey Central Power & Light employee John Meehan and his family always wanted the easy access of having fresh eggs every morning by simply walking to a chicken coop in their backyard. They thought this summer would be the perfect opportunity to build a sustainable chicken coop as the availability of free-range organic eggs became scarce due to the pandemic.

“If we were going to raise chickens in our backyard, we needed to do it right,” said John, consultant, Regional External Affairs. “We had to ensure we were providing a healthy and sustainable environment and monitor quality control for the entire process.”

According to John, a major part of this effort was making sure the construction of the coop and its day-to-day operation resulted in minimal-to-zero landfill. This was accomplished, in part, by using discarded wood from area construction sites which would have otherwise been sent to a landfill. Scrap cedar shakes were used to construct the roofp, and the bottom was lined with a thin layer of wood shavings that are easily composted. The coop was designed to have two pull-out drawers that capture nearly all the chicken waste along with the shavings.

A few of the chickens enjoying their sustainable home.

Curiosity got the best of John’s daughter, Keira, as she investigates the chickens and an egg. NOTE: the egg was washed so there was no threat of salmonella, which can be present on newly laid eggs. Safety first!

“This organic material is then placed in our composting bin and used in our garden. The leftover or scrap vegetables from our garden will then be fed back to the chickens and/or used for compost to keep the cycle going and re​duce food waste,” said John. “Not only was it important to reduce construction waste, but also the by-products produced by the chickens.”

The educational benefits didn’t stop with completing the coop’s construction, John noted.

“My children absolutely love checking in on the chickens through the live webcam we installed inside the coop. We can see how the chickens sleep and how they act when sensing a predator in the area.”

And these chickens aren’t ready to fly the coop.

The birds are now producing eggs on a daily basis and Meehan family members have enjoyed their first farm-raised fresh eggs. The Meehans plan to donate excess eggs to a local food pantry.

“The greatest benefit of this backyard coop is not the fresh eggs every morning, but rather the time we spent on designing and building it,” said John. “During those few weeks, we all forgot that we were stuck at home because it was the only place we wanted to be.”

And that’s no yolk!