Monday, October 19, 2009

Whazzup with the chickens

My DH and I spent a little time this weekend putting a few more finishing touches on our chicken coop. A few weeks ago we finished the windows to get them ready for winter........which was a good thing because we got some snow on October 10th. You can see what the coop looked like on that day. Luckily we are getting some nicer was in the low 70s here today and beautiful.

One thing we hadn't done until a few weekends ago was to add the white trim on the windows. I am really happy with how it turned out. It really makes the little ol' coop look finished and "fancy". We needed a way to cover the windows for winter, but wanted something that would be easy to remove when the temperatures warm up and we want more ventilation. Here in the midwest we should be able to just have the window screens for about 3/4 of the year. We ended up getting Plexi-glass and cutting it just wider than the window frames. Then DH drilled holes in the corners and attached screws in the window frame so the Plexi-glass can just be slipped onto the screws from the outside and then removed quickly and easily. We hope this will be a good set-up for winterizing the coop. Below you can see the window with the "glass" on.

And here is a close-up of it with the "glass" on.

Just this past weekend we built a roost for the chickens. We had placed an old stepladder in the coop when we first moved them in. They quickly adapted to using this as a roost and at first they all were able to huddle together on the top rung. However, as they grew bigger, they spread out more and since chickens are not considerate to one another, they were pooping on top of each other throughout the night. A bigger pain (for me at least) is all the poop that was landing in the shavings below the ladder. I wanted an easier way to clean up after them each day, you know, being Farmer Cluck and all. :0)

So.............we constructed a roost that was all one level and added a droppings board below. That way all their poop from the night falls onto the board. The next day it is easy to scrape the droppings off the board and into a bucket where they can then be deposited in the compost pile. Below you can see the new roost. You can also see the "poop" bucket hanging up on a nail. We had to add a diagonal piece of wood to the roost to stabilize it.

This weekend we also tacked chicken wire above the storage shelf. As I've alluded to in past chicken posts, the chickens were very eager to get onto my shelf and poop on everything. Again, not so considerate about where they put their droppings. It was getting aggravating to me so I gave up the storage space and closed it in.

When I put the chickens to bed the first night the new roost was in I found that they had quickly adapted to it. Below you can see Clara and Sarah huddled up on one end.

And Reba (middle) and Abby (far right) were also comfortable on their new roost. Dixie (our rooster.......we haven't given him a boy name yet) was relegated to perching precariously on the diagonal support bar instead of hanging out on top with the girls. The interesting thing about this is that on the stepladder s/he was usually on the bottom rung. I was a little miffed at the girls for not allowing him space on the top since there is PLENTY of room for all of them. I posted a question on Backyard Chickens about the phenomenon of hens forcing roosters to the bottom of the pecking order so to speak. Several people responded that they've noticed similar actions or attitudes in their own flocks. My DH, animal lover that he is, proposed constructing a separate roost just for Dixie so s/he wouldn't have to put up with getting pooped on during the night and not being allowed on top with everyone else. I admit that I was skeptical about this idea..........mainly because I really need the space to the right of the roost for my nest boxes.

I am happy, however, to report that tonight when I shut the chickens in I noticed that Dixie was on top with the rest of the flock. I couldn't wait to tell this to DH. Just before I started to write this post I snuck back out to the coop to see if Dixie had, in fact, retained a prime roosting spot. I had my camera with me and below you will see the evidence of Dixie's acceptance. It was totally dark when I took this so I'm sorry for the poor quality. It will be interesting to see if Dixie continues to be allowed to stay on top........we sure hope so!

All that's left to do now is set up a nest box or two so we can start gathering eggs. That will be very exciting!! Huevos rancheros, anyone?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks like a great coop, it gives me ideas. I hope to be able to have a few chicken in the yard by next spring, have been planning for a while now. Thanks!