March 19, 2012

The Chicken Coop

With Spring right around the corner, the chicks over at Simple Prepping have begun to hatch. We have welcomed 12 Barred Plymouth Rock chicks about a month ago from Simple Prepping and just welcomed 15 Sex Link and 15 Rhode Island Red chicks today from an online hatchery. This is our first time raising chickens and talk about grabbing the bull by the horns. This is going to be a wonderful learning experience and I am going to enjoy sharing it with you.

When we began preparing for their arrival the first thing we had to do was to set up a brooder.  A brooder is a heated enclosure used to raise young fowl. It can be made of many different materials such as a cardboard box or a water/feeding trough.

When the first set of chicks arrived we used a plastic watering trough as a brooder. It allowed them room to grow and enough height so they wouldn't jump out as they got bigger. We lined the bottom with old newspaper and commercial paper towels, set up their feeder and water, and used a heat lamp to keep them warm. Once the chicks were a bit more stable, we lined the bottom with pine pellets. They pine pellets have been nice because it greatly cut down the need to clean out the brooder daily to every few days. Typically, you need to keep the chicks in the brooder for a minimum of seven weeks which at that point they will graduate to the chicken coop.

Because of the arrival of 30 additional chicks, Lenny went ahead and made an additional brooder in order to keep the new chicks separated from the older and larger chicks. For this construction, Lenny used salvaged wood he had picked up that people had put out with their trash and some chicken wire. Below are a few pictures of what he constructed.

He took the wood and made a box

Here is the box with all the sides completed

Old wood fencing to make a couple lids/ access doors frames

Once the door frames were made he covered them with chicken wire

                                     He attached the lids/access doors to the box with hinges

.We put on 2 doors instead of just one because the chicks like to run to the other side when we try to catch them and instead of dealing with one large lid to support when trying to catch them, we figured it was a little more practical to have two.

Lenny then attached a post to support the heat lamp

Here the chicks are enjoying their new home.

 Not shown in the pictures are the perches we later added. We just took a dow rod and cut it to fit into two of the corners.

With the chicks happy in their brooders for the next few weeks we now had/have a little more time to work on building a chicken coop and run.
A chicken coop is a building where chickens are kept to safely sleep and lay eggs. There are many designs for chicken coops, one of the simplest is an a-frame coop which I had mentioned in a previous post. Originally, our chicken coop was going to be built out of old wood pallets. Due to time constraints and lack of available materials, we ended up building the coop out of some old wood decking we had picked up about a year ago.

 The coop is a 7' x 5' enclosure with nesting boxes protruding from the north east side. It has a window on the south west side in order to allow ample sunlight into the coop. We also equipped the coop with an easy access door to the run. Lenny fabricated the genius idea to have the door attached to a dow rod that extends to the outside of the coop and run. That way each morning when we go to let the chickens out all we have to do is pull on the rod to open the door. It's so easy even our children can do it without having to deal with a gaggle of chickens.

Attached to the coop is a run. A run is an open space where chickens can freely roam without having to worry about them running away or being attacked by a larger animal.  The run is about 400 square feet with welded fencing along the bottom and chicken wire above that. The chicken wire on top ensures that the chickens will not fly out of the enclosure. Below are a few pictures of when we put the coop up. Because of the additional chicks we have obtained, we will need to move them to the larger brooder Lenny had built and then move the older chicks to the coop soon. Currently we have taken in Bruise the rooster from our friends at Simple Prepping while zoning issue are being worked out. Because he is already housed in the coop we are going to need to made modifications. We are still working those out but I will keep you updated on what we end up doing.

The coop in the beginning stages, you can see the placement of the window and door.

Here you can see where we made sure there was an overhang above where we were going to build the nesting boxes.

The coop was almost complete, we just needed to add the lids to the nesting boxes.

Closer view of the nesting boxes. We used the tops of old fencing as dividers.

The coop's chicken door to the run.

The interior once finished. Lenny made sure to have a few perches inside. We also sealed the openings between the wood siding to prevent future drafts. There is also a hook in the ceiling to support the feed bucket and a light so we can see what we are doing at night.

Bruiser the rooster. This chicken is crazy. Lenny and Rick from Simple Prepping decided to play a trick on me the other day. He was free ranging in the backyard and he kept getting closer and closer to me and I was just standing there holding still because I new if I took off walking he would probably start chasing me. Well they told me I should stomp my foot to scare him away. I was hesitant at first and then thought what the heck and obliged. Boy what a mistake. He fluffed up and went wild on me. It scared the living daylights out of me. Remember this is the first time we have raised chickens. Lesson learned.

If you have any questions or comments in regards to this post feel free to leave a comment or e-mail us at Till next time see you on the flip flop.

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