Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Update on our Chickens and the Coop

I just realized that I have never posted about our adult chickens on Garden Desk! That's crazy because we absolutely love our chickens. I never knew how much fun they would be, and the eggs are delicious!
We did manage a post back in April about raising our chicks. We raised the chicks in our garage while we built our outside coop. We built the coop mostly out of wood that we already had from an old deck that I took apart a couple years ago. The coop construction took much longer than anticipated but they have been in it for three or four months now. here it is:

We were able to put it right in front of the garden and beside the greenhouse.

When we would read about keeping chickens, it seemed that many people let them roam around during the day. Around here experienced farmers were telling us to watch out for the many predators, some even during the day. We have to watch out for hawks, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, opossums, weasels, rats and the neighbor's dogs. Many people told us that we wouldn't be able to keep our chickens alive.

With this in mind, we tried to build a very secure coop. The building that they sleep in is in the very center, up on stilts with no outside walls. The small window openings have two layers of wire over them and we even put wire mesh down under the floor boards.

The rest of the coop is all under tin roofing with two kinds of wire around the perimeter. The wire is also buried in concrete at the bottom about 18 inches under ground! The door has a second latch about a foot off the ground so nothing can squeeze in.

If anything does manage to sneak in during the night, they shouldn't be able to get in the wood building. The chickens have a small door that they use during the day.

They go inside at dusk and then I lock their door.

Here they are coming into their building:

The other wall is hinged for us to get inside for cleaning. It also has the nest boxes built into it. When closed it also has a heavy duty latch. Here is what it looks like from the outside:

Here is the nestbox part of the inside:

 Nest Box

The chickens' main feeder and water hang from the building under the nest boxes.

All summer we fed them plenty of fruits and vegetables, an occasional worm or grasshopper and grass that we pulled. Recently, I thought they should get to graze in the grass on their own. In order to keep them safe while grazing, I constructed this crude grazing pen:

Grazing Pen1

I can lock them in if I want to clean out their coop, or I can connect the two units with portable chicken wire sides and top that roll out of the way when not in use. You can see what I mean from this angle:

Grazing Pen 2

The chickens love grazing in their new pen in the evenings. At nightfall, they go back inside to their roosts and I disconnect the pen and lock them safely in their coop.

The chicken coop and grazing pen are working out pretty well, especially since I built it without any real plans. The chickens have adapted well to it and are laying eggs almost daily now. As good as getting fresh organic eggs is, I think my favorite part about our chickens is that they are super friendly. They are more like pets than farm animals. They actually enjoy being held and get excited when they see us.


Raising chickens is great! As long as winter goes well, I hope to get more next spring. Of course then I'll have to build another chicken coop!

Thanks for reading!


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