Are you ready? It's time for our 14th annual photo contest! Enter your best pictures of the year, for a chance to win a calendar and annual subscription here. Hurry! Deadline for entries is October 21.
We're getting ready to embark on chicken raising... so I'd really appreciate seeing how everyone has theirs set up... I thought about posting in Poultry and Livestock, but it's a public forum, and I know some folks including me are a little reluctant to share photos to the "public at large"
But, I thought by looking at ya'lls different setups, I can get some good ideas for hubby.
here is the inside of my chicken coop. The front area is used to store feed and a place to set the brooder when we have little chicks. The floor of this part is the same level as the bed of my pickup truck. I can back the truck right up to the door and step right through with a bag if feed.
My chicken coop is 8 feet wide by 16 feet long. The front section is 8 feet by 6 feet, so the space the chickens have is 8 x 10 feet. We currently have 60 chickens roosting in there and its getting crowded. We usually don't come through the winter with this many though.
Great coop, Keith! That's the same size coop we're trying to finish.
So you find that little vestibule part where the feed, etc is stored, is pretty important, huh? And good on the level of the floor. We made the droppings box under the roosts just over the height of the wheelbarrow so we can just scrape the shavings and poop into it.
That is really really nice! I was about to ask if one end was open but I thought maybe it was an illusion or you had a removable piece for venting or something.
Can I ask? Why do you partition it and use wire fencing to seperate? Is that to keep critters out or the birds out of the food or? I noticed mine has a section like that on one side but nothing in the doorway part. I assume it fell off or got taken down. I didn't notice any evidence of there being an inner door though.
What does your brooder look like? I also have a four sided box in my barn with no top or bottom. It is covered in chicken wire except the ends. I have been trying to figure out what it is. I assume it is a pen but for what?
The reason I have a seperate section for a feed storage area is mainly to keep the chickens from making a mess of the feed sacks, etc. They will try to roost on the feed cans and leave poo everwhere. I keep the brood box away from the adults because the big birds will peck the little ones. Chickens can actually be quite mean to each other. If one gets a wound and blood shows...then the others will peck at it till they finally kill the injured bird.
My brood box is just a pine box abour 3 feet by 4 feet. It has a removable lid made of chicken wire. The chicken wire has a place to put a heat lamp through. I keep just one end of the box warm, that way if the chicks get too warm they can walk to the other end of the box where it is cooler. My brooder is stored under the coop at the moment, you can see it in one of the pics I posted, just behind the steps.
A word of warning about cleanliness around the coop...I try to keep the poo in 'their' end of the coop. I also put down a layer of wood shavings to absorb moisture from the poo. Be careful when you shovel out the coop, wear a dust mask. There have been some outbreaks of disease that came from animal droppings. I remember one a few years ago that affected some of the Indian reservations out west...they thought the disease came from mouse droppings that somehow became airborne as a dust.
Thats a good idea about the droppings box being the same height as the wheel barrow...I may have to build that into my next one.
Having the floor the same height as the bed of the truck has been a time saver and a back saver. I remember my old coop...it was almost a comedy with that thing...picture this; carrying a 50 lb bag of feed on your shoulder 150 yards from the drive way to the coop...in knee deep snow. After you fight to get the ground level door open you walk in with the bag of feed and bang your head on low rafters...or worse, bang your head on the only light bulb in the building, breaking the light and having hot glass chards drip down your kneck. Now you are in the dark and have to hike back to the house for a working light bulb. Been there, done that.
They will also poo in the nest and mess up the eggs unless you make it hard for them to sit with their tails over the edge of nest. We had to redesign our nesting boxes and make it too inconvenient for them to sit on the edge. They were too open, allowing them to roost on front edge. Now the eggs stay cleaner. Have you seen Zeppy's recycled nesting boxes ?
They would eleminate any sitting on the edge. Great design.
Keith, the design of your boxes looks good too. Do your hens lay eggs on the hardware cloth, without nesting material ? In your picture, it looks like your hen is setting on the bare wire mesh. That would be the way to go if it works, no mess at all, no changing nesting materials etc. Seems like it would save work and be cleaner. (I hate it when the eggs get dirty, I'm always trying to think of ways to eleminate it, but haven't so far.) I'm always afraid that if I don't have straw in nest, they will start laying on the floor. :-)
I usually do keep some straw in nest boxes for the hens. This past fall we had several young birds in the coop that persisted in raking all the straw out of the nest boxes, I just never bothered to put it back. I need to do that now.
Some of the younger birds started laying eggs on the floor, but they seem to have out grown that now and all are laying in the nest boxes. They do seem to have their favorite boxes, I saw two hens sitting in the same box once last week.
I don't know if there is a way out of 'dirty' eggs, we just wash all of ours before we put them in cartons.
Zeppy, do you wash your eggs before storing them, or store them and then wash before using them ? I read that if you wash them, it takes away the protective film that prevents bacteria from entering thru shell. But then if you don't wash them before storing, there's the idea that there's something ikky in the fridge. I've done it both ways, and keep wondering which is better. What's your idea on this ?
I wash them after collecting. I know about the "protective bloom" they're supposed to have, but we never keep them long. Since droppings and eggs both come out of the vent, I just gotta go with my gut and wash them. I've not noticed the washed eggs getting old faster (though I half wish they would so I could peel them after hard-boiling) or being more watery. They seem exactly the same as unwashed to me, except that I feel happier about eating them. :)
I just now noticed this post. Thanks Zeppy. That helps me. I get so kookie about this kind of stuff, you'd think I was a fanatic of some kind.
But really, I just am so ignorant as to how other people do this. I know that people have been collecting and eating fresh eggs forever, so why do I get so stuck on this thing. ???? Maybe I can just rest now and enjoy my fresh eggs more. lol. Ya know, you can read so much information as to how to do things so many different ways, you can get info-overload. Think that's what I've done. Thanks...you're awesome. :-))