Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Big Plans

I'm so excited...I'm finally going to give the chicken coops an interior redesign. There may be power tools involved.

Now that Brewster has come to live with us, and since it seems the cooler air means cooler chickens who want to roost together, it has become evident that some roost remodeling is in order. For the second evening in a row I found our little yellow and white Easter Egger bedded down on top of a hay bale, rather than inside on the roost with everyone else. I'm not sure if she did it by choice or not, but I do know that once I chased her into the coop, she couldn't find a place up on the top rung with everyone else...Brewster had taken her spot! (Good boy, way to roost with the girls!) I left them to sort it all out, and I know she didn't freeze to death last just isn't that cold - yet.

On my commute into work I made some final decisions about how I'm going to "edit" the arrangement this weekend. Here are my plans:
  • Replace roosts on both sides with fir or apple branches.

  • Cut a chicken-access hole through the plywood wall currently separating the two coops for more floor space and breathing room. (Chickens, as a rule, need about 4 square feet of space inside a coop, and 10 square feet of run outside. They technically have that now, but I'd rather be generous.)

  • Cut a window higher up through the same wall so some Western light can flow through from the big coop's window. (It's too dark on the "little" side right now.)

  • Replace current broken nest boxes with three new identical deep black storage boxes I bought at Goodwill last night for $0.99 each! (The front lip of each is tall, so it will hold in the shavings AND give the nester a spot to perch on her way in and out.) I even bought plastic "nest eggs" (really, plastic Easter eggs) to put in each so the girls know what to do).

  • Move the hanging feeders and the up-on-a-block-waterers closer to the center of the two coops for equal access all the way around.
Future possible enhancements include:
  • Using the top of the hospital coop as a vertical wall extender so that small side can be tall enough for proper roosts.

  • Connecting the two outdoor runs together via a new chicken-sized opening.

  • Expanding the hospital's front wall toward the front of the big coop. With both coops connected after this weekend, this may not be necessary...unless I ever want more chickens!

  • Adding plywood to the front wall of hospital coop, or covering with a tarp...two walls plus the top of the hospital are welded-wire-covered wood frames, which I would expect to be very drafty in winter. Especially as we keep removing hay bales to feed to the cows!

Here are some diagrams of my before and after plans. If you need me this weekend, I'll be the coops!


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