Month: December 2013
Our little chickies have been laying eggs like crazy! I was told not to expect much this winter because the days are short, and hens typically don’t lay as much in the winter. Well, our hens didn’t get the message. Today 11 of our 15 hens laid eggs. That’s nearly 7 dozen a week if it keeps up!
We have just been using 5 gallon buckets laid on their side as nest boxes. We didn’t have the materials to make the nice ones we wanted right away and the buckets were working great when we only had 4-5 hens laying. I think since they are being awfully kind in their egg production, we could probably make them some nice boxes.
I will start by listing my cutting list for each pair of boxes for anyone interested in making their own. It should only take one sheet of plywood (although I’m not entirely sure, because we used scraps of other projects for this).
- 1 – 15″x30″ (Base)
- 1 – 17″x30″ (Back)
- 1 – 16″x30″ (Top)
- 3 – 15″x17″ (Sides)
I wanted the top to be on an angle, so I cut the 15″x17″ rectangles to only reach 13″ in the front and 17″ in the back. The top can still be hinged at that angle.
You can pocket-hole drill these pieces together, but we just used some nice self-tapping screws. The pocket-hole would be stronger, but our birds don’t weigh enough for it to matter. We attached the back to the base and added the dividers. Pretty simple.
It took us about 45 minutes to build each unit. I plan on putting laminate flooring on the top to discourage roosting on the boxes. I also plan on adding curtains to the front of the boxes. There are a lot of benefits to adding curtains (outlined well at http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/03/nest-box-curtains-more-than-fashion.html)
I will give the hens a little time to adjust to the boxes before I hide them away behind curtains. Now maybe we can get the other 4 hens to lay (not that we need more eggs)! Thanks for reading!
We were temporarily using the dog kennel as a run, but the chickens were getting much to big for that. We started by digging a trench for our fencing and post holes for the treated 4×4 posts.
We spaced the posts 6 feet apart and made a 12’x18′ run. That gives us about 220 sq.ft. which can house about 22 chickens (10 sq.ft. a piece). We wanted the fencing to be buried a bit so that critters couldn’t dig under and snatch our hens.
We still had concerns about critters getting in, so we also put in 3 foot hardware cloth, which was also buried about a foot under ground.
We left the run like this for a couple of days, but it didn’t take long for the hens to figure out they could fly out. OK, forget our roofing project! We have to build a roof for the chickens.
We laid 1x4s on top of the 4x4s horizontally. This gave us something to attach the wire to. We also put in support where we needed to so that the top would be level.
With all of the 1x4s in place (they run down the center of the coop as well) we were able to roll the wire on top.
The wire really had to be pulled tight, but we haven’t had any sagging issues yet. Eventually, we will add some sort of roof panels, but we needed a quick fix to keep the birds inside for now.
My dad had an old tonneau cover that he didn’t have a use for anymore, so we have set that on top near the door to help keep snow out. We will need to shovel the snow soon, but the chickens have actually been doing really well in it. They run all around the run and the snow doesn’t seem to bother them much. They dig up the dirt near the door and seem content.
We will be adding a door in the center of the run (between the smaller posts) but haven’t quite gotten that far. In part 4 we will address roofing and siding, but I don’t expect the siding to be done until sometime in the spring.
The hens are laying eggs, and we are getting about 6 eggs a day at this point. The fun continues! Thanks for reading!