This post is for the birds!
Seriously! The chicken coop is here! I’ve put the birds (the broilers) in, but have to do more work before we’re totally copasetic. They HAD to go out, whereas the laying hens can wait a few days – up to a week if they have to. They’re younger, and smaller anyway. And so…
Thursday or Friday, I will get assistance and know-how setting up the electronet fencing for the chicken tractor, which will have its own solar source. This assistance will come from one of the people who sold me their equipment (both individuals plan to move from the area, and won’t be doing chickens in their future locales), so she knows her way around the equipment. At that point, I can move the broilers from the coop to the tractor, clean out the coop to start afresh and make things ready for the layers who will be needing the coop as a year-round homestead.
The coop will have electronet around it, too, but it is less immediately critical to do so. Instead it is indeed critical to get the broilers OUT of my basement! (These units were supposed to have been delivered the week of May 26th, which would have given me much better leeway.)
On the other paw, they’re well-built. Very well built. Hometown Structures is a small Mennonite-owned business located a few towns over. Their work doesn’t come cheap, but their work isn’t cheaply done. (Cheep, cheep???)
Bedding in the coop: Either straw or pine/wood chips/shavings are recommended. NEVER use cedar… the aromatics in cedar are wonderful to human noses but contain substances you don’t want poultry to ingest. You want to make sure your chips or shavings, if you go that route, have low or no sawdust, which adversely affects delicate poultry respiratory systems. I’ve seen recommendations for straw, and I’ve seen recommendations for the shavings. I’m doing the shavings for now, but I suspect straw may be cheeper. (oops, sorry.)
Meanwhile, the broilers have been housed in large cardboard boxes in my workshop basement room — four currently in the box for a toilet (appropriate?), and two apiece in other boxes I “borrowed” from local friends (they won’t want ’em back)! I rotate them around when I do box cleanout changes, so they get to know their compatriots. They are social animals; you don’t want to house them one per box, ever (well, if one is sick, this may be your best option).
The main thing I have to deal with is that the entry for humans into the coop is 18 inches off the ground. With my bad knees and a bad ankle, I will have to build steps as soon as possible (I was able to get in there today before I put the birds in, in order to set up the feeders… but such activity right now requires me to sit on the flooring and then hoist myself up. Now that there are birds in there who are leaving droppings, I want to have steps! This will happen shortly. I will also install a pull bar so I can get in with even less effort.)
The coop has a pull out tray there, so you can clean outside, without worrying about roosting birds.
We’re wired here, even if we are not totally wired yet. Temps were in the very high 80’s today, so heating the roosts would be.. counterproductive, eh?
Tasks: I put in nails and one chain (so far) for holding up food off the ground in the coop proper. I do have a large 15 gallon waterer which will end up in the chicken tractor. I will be setting up watering systems both inside and outside the coop (but within their built-in run), right now they can deal with water in a nesting box. I am running a hose from the house to the coop so I am not lugging water around – I’m using hose material that is rated for human drinking water (most are not; most contain lead).
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