Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Permanent Chicken Coop

For two years, we moved our chickens around the field in this :

There came a point last summer when we just could not make time to move the chickens anymore. Also, anywhere we moved them, no matter if it was only for a day, they pretty quickly decimated the spot; our sandy soil cannot even stand up to a chicken.

We noted that they got much calmer and easier to deal with when we were not moving them around all the time. We also found that they ranged pretty far and wide doing their chicken business. And let's face, it was much easier on us to leave them be. The eggs were easier to gather, they were more likely to be in a safe place when it came time to roost, and they still did the work we most wanted them to do- dispersing cow pats.

This past summer, we began in the same way, knowing that we wanted to have a permanent arrangement for them. I wanted whatever it would be ready by the time the meat bird chicks arrived at the beginning of July so that we did not have to brood them in the house again. We worked frantically for two weekends and we now have a fixed coop.

It is in what has been the cow shed. I would say the thirty layers look quite comfortable in it. Just to the left there is the brooding space, which was plenty big for the sixty meat birds for the first month of their very short lives.

This coop is not all I hoped for, yet it functions better than any I've had to go into so far. The fact that it is more square means the chickens and I are not chasing each other as I tend to chores in the coop. They are less stressed by our presence because they can get out of our way. They are also all laying in the nest boxes- except for one who insists on depositing her eggs on a particular bale of hay in the barn.

Come winter, they can have this whole structure to move around in, which will be nicer for them than being confined to the coop only. The past two winters, they have stayed in the very big greenhouse. I figure they can adapt to the smaller digs.

They spend the night and morning locked in the coop to maximize the chances for the eggs all being in the nest boxes. Then they range all over the property the rest of the day.

The only problem has been with fencing garden spaces. I haven't quite figured that out, so they ate all our berries this year. Maybe next year I can outsmart the chickens.

No comments:

Post a Comment