Another Chicken Coop

Some days, it seems like we are always building something on applewood farm.

When we first started out, the only buildings on the property were the house, the garage, and the tractor shed.  We quickly modified the shed to be a chicken coop and then added the first goat shed, the pig shed, the second goat shed, and now the second chicken coop.

In previous posts, I’ve talked about our chicken infestation.  The place is crawling with them.  I wouldn’t mind them at all if they would lay eggs, but that’s a complaint I’ve already voiced more than once.

The tractor shed-turned-chicken coop has been totally sufficient until recently.  When determining how many chickens one can house in a coop, a good rule of thumb is two square feet per bird.  Without having done any formal equations, we could see that we were edging precariously close to maximum capacity and yet we had 11 more chickens that were ready to move in.

IMG_6351Up until this time, these 11 birds had been summering in the Temporary Coop formally known as the Temporary Goat Shelter.  This consisted of some pvc piping bent into an arc and covered with hog fencing.  This beautiful assemblage was then finished with a stunning blue tarp and the goats were invited inside in the event of rain.

When we found ourselves with a host of new chickens that were too large for the brooder but too small to be introduced into gen pop, we modified this structure with pallets, chicken wire, more tarp, and some roosting beams to make it a chicken paradise better than sleeping outside unprotected.

IMG_8611Originally, 19 birds called this construction fiasco home through the beginning of the summer.  When eight of them were big enough to move the main coop, the remaining 11 spent the rest of the summer here.

When these 11 were big enough to move, we knew that the main coop couldn’t take them and we’d have to build something separate for them to call home.

IMG_0402It took about three days to put it together, but we fashioned a VERY mediocre structure that would comfortably house these 11, plus more, should it come to that.

The interesting part was seeing whether the chickens would stay in their original coop or try to move in to the new digs.

At first, we continued to let the chickens free-range during the day, but after two nights of having to go collect The New 11 from huddling in a massive ball of chicken in the space where the Temporary Coop had been (we disassembled it after moving them out), carry them back to the new coop, and place them on their new roost, we decided it was time for drastic measures.

Although it went against everything we feel is right, we forced ourselves to keep the chickens confined to their fenced-in coop area for THREE ENTIRE DAYS.  That’s right.  We didn’t let them out at all.  Boy, were they pissed.  Interestingly, when we went to close up the coops on the first night, the original 32 birds were in the original coop and The New 11 were in the new coop.  It was kind of amazing.  The same thing happened the second night.  And the third.

IMG_0403Even more surprising (to us, anyway) was that on day two of confinement, all of the eggs that were laid were in the new coop.  These were not laid by The New 11 because they are not yet laying.  This means that the new nesting boxes were immediately preferred by the old chickens.  Of course, we don’t care where they lay, as long as they lay.  This just struck as noteworthy.

So, this morning, being the fourth day, the chickens were let out very early as a reward for their good behavior.  Hopefully, the egg laying will continue and the self-roosting will as well.  Wish us luck!

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About applewoodfarm

Restaurateur, farmer, bartender, beekeeper, friend, wife, mother, dog lover, cat tolerater, chicken hypnotizer, blogger, and sometime yogi
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2 Responses to Another Chicken Coop

  1. Bill says:

    Merely driving a nail is a challenge for me. I’m terrible at building things. Of course that is one of the major reasons I’m not the farmer I ought to be. I admire y’all for daring to build your own things. I’m getting better, but I reckon my brain just isn’t naturally wired for it.

    Our chickens can be creatures of habit too. One of our mama hens keeps taking her chicks back to our brooder coop every night. I’m probably going to have to just shut it up or carry her and the chicks into the main coop at night for a while.

    We have 2 dozen chicks in a barn stall now, where we brooded them. Tomorrow night they graduate to the main coop. To acclimate them we’ll keep the whole flock shut up in the coop for a day (going against all our free-ranging beliefs too). The next day we’ll let them out, but keep them shut in the chickenyard. Only on the third day will we open the gate to let them free-range. Our hope is that by then they’ll have imprinted the coop as their roosting spot.

    I really enjoy reading your posts. 🙂

    • Thanks, Bill. I always look forward to yours as well. Yours is the only one that I get in email form. Thankfully, yesterday’s post reminded me that I needed to check my bee buckets today. I went this afternoon to feed them and realized I had run out of food! I made more and then fed them tonight. Once the hives were closed again, I shut off my flashlight and took in the quiet night full of stars. Thanks for all your reminders. I’d hate it if I forgot to look up one night. I LOVED your line, “What I focus on determines what I miss.” I’ve been mulling that one over all day.

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