A farm isn’t complete without the saucy clucking of poultry, and so it’s only natural that a game like Stardew Valley would include Chickens among its animals. But you need somewhere to put those Chickens, and that’s where Coops come into play.
Coops are available more or less from the beginning of Stardew Valley, and can be constructed by Robin, who runs the Carpenter’s Shop from 9 am to 5 pm on most days. She needs the following items to construct a Coop:
- 4,000 gold
- 300 Wood
- 100 Stone
Chickens are the basic bread and butter of Coop life. You can purchase a Chicken from Marnie, the owner of Marnie’s Ranch - located south of your farm - for 800 gold. You must have a Coop on your property before Chickens will appear as an option.
Chickens will start off as mere chicks, and will take approximately a week to grow into full Chickens. Once Chickens reach adulthood they will begin to produce both Eggs and Large Eggs for your farm. Eggs can be sold wholesale, used as gifts, used in some recipes, and turned into Mayonnaise if you Craft a Mayonnaise Machine (level two Farming, 15 Wood, 15 Stone, one Earth Crystal, one Copper Bar).
That said, Chickens are finicky creatures. They will only produce Eggs if you keep them happy. This means feeding them every day and giving them a bit of attention. As such, Chickens - like all animals - have their own affection levels, just like the humans of Stardew Valley.
Taking care of your Chickens boils down to two basic principles each day you wake up:
- Making sure your Chickens are fed. If your Chickens don’t get fed they will get upset, and they won’t produce any Eggs.
- Lavishing affection on your Chickens. You can do this simply by right-clicking on a Chicken. If you see a heart, you’ve done a good job.
Feeding your Chickens is the more important of the two tasks, carrying roughly the same weight as watering your crops each day. There are two ways to feed your Chickens:
- Put Hay in their Coop. When you enter the Coop you’ll see a long, wooden trough in the north. To the left of the trough is a container with some Hay sticking out the top. You can interact with the container to receive some Hay in your inventory. Place the Hay in the trough and the Chickens will eat it overnight. Hay is harvested from tall grass with your Scythe or purchased from Marnie, and is stored in a Silo, which can be build by Robin.
- Let your Chickens feed themselves. There’s a small door on the front of the Coop, and if you open it the Chickens will wander freely during the day, returning to the Coop at night (or remaining inside during bad weather). If there’s tall grass somewhere nearby the Chickens will seek it out and eat of their own accord.
It doesn’t matter which method you use to feed your Chickens, just so long as they’re fed. Chickens that aren’t fed won’t produce Eggs, and if they’re not producing Eggs there’s no point in having Chickens.
Upgrading your Coop
Each Coop you build has two potential upgrades. They allow you to house more Chickens, and will unlock more animals for purchase at Marnie’s Ranch. They are as follows:
- Big Coops. Big Coops allow you to store up to eight animals, and unlock Ducks, which will create Duck Eggs. Big Coops also have incubators installed (right beside the Hay bin) which you can use to hatch new animals, without having to make purchased from Marnie’s. Big Coops cost 10,000 gold, 400 Wood, and 150 Stone.
- Deluxe Coops. Deluxe Coops allow you to store up to twelve animals, and unlock Rabbits, which produce Wool. Deluxe Coops possess auto-feeders which will dole out Hay each morning without the need for manual labour. Deluxe Coops cost 20,000 gold, 500 Wood, and 200 Stone.
Note that Ducks and Rabbits are treated identically to Chickens - they just cost more to initially purchase, and offer greater returns.
Each upgrade must be purchased in sequence. You cannot buy a Deluxe Coop right off the bat, for example - you must first get a Coop, then upgrade it to a Big Coop, and then upgrade it to a Deluxe Coop.
In addition to Chickens, you will eventually, if you have a Big Coop, be visited by a witch who will leave a Void Egg behind. If you choose to incubate the Void Egg it will hatch into a Void Chicken. Void Chickens are evil versions of Chickens which lay more Void Eggs. Void Eggs don't sell for too much, and they can't be turned into Mayonnaise, but who can resist the allure of evil poultry? (Also, Sebastian likes Void Eggs, because… creatures of the night unite?)
While mining in the Mines, Quarry, or anywhere else you find lotsa rocks there’s a chance you’ll come across a Dinosaur Egg. Surprise surprise, you’ll hatch a Dinosaur if you incubate this Egg. Dinosaurs lay more Dinosaur Eggs, and can yield some lovely monetary returns. They're also Dinosaurs.
Being successful in the Coop business requires more than just setting up shop and hoping for the best. Here are some tips for making the most of your Coops:
- Pen in your Coops with fences, preferably Iron Fences. Coop animals roam a lot on nice days, and it can be really difficult to lavish affection on all of them if they’re wandering all over your farm.
- For that matter, make Coop / Barn duty your first work during the day. Plants don’t go anywhere. They can wait to be watered.
- Let your animals eat grass rather than having them consume Hay. Hay is expensive, and you’ll typically get one piece of Hay for every three or four swaths of grass you Scythe. By contrast, an animal that eats grass will only eat one swath of grass per day. Save Hay for Winter, when grass isn’t available. You’ll probably want to create an entire closed-in area filled with free-growing grass, planted via Grass Starters from Pierre’s General Store.
- Make Mayonnaise with your normal-sized Eggs. It doesn't take long, and you'll get a fair amount more money out of the bargain.
- Have looooots of Hay ready for the Winter. You'll need one piece of Hay for each farm animal you have, and if you run out you'll need to buy from Marnie. This can get really expensive, since each piece of Hay costs 50 gold. Multiply the number of animals you have (Coop and Barn) by 28 to determine how much Hay you'll need to last the Winter.
- Speaking of Winter, your Coop animals will get upset if they’re cold. You can buy a Heater from Marnie’s Ranch for 2,000 gold that will keep them happy during the Winter.
- Pay attention to your animals, and interact with them once a day. Not only do you drive up Egg production, you drive up the overall worth of the animal. If you decide you want to sell one of your animals you can do it by right-clicking and choosing the coin icon that appears. Might as well maximize little Shlumbo’s market value, right?
- Though you can buy more than one Coop, you should probably content yourself with one. It takes a fair while to visit your Chickens / Ducks / Rabbits / Void Chickens / Dinosaurs each day with one maxed out Deluxe Coop, let alone three or four.