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Archive for the ‘Backyard Chickens’ Category

I’ve had a few people ask me lately about how to go about building a chicken coop so I thought it would make a good post.  We built our entire coop and run for about $200.  Most of the wood used to construct the coop was scraps we either had in our garage or we got from family & friends.  Our biggest expense was purchasing the chicken wire that covers the entire run. 

 

The “run” (where the girls hang out most of the day) is about 8′ x 12′ and about 5 1/2′ high.  I really wanted a big space for the hens to have lots of room to cruise around in when they weren’t out in the yard.  We have a raised “coop” (where the hens sleep at night) that the hens can relax under during the day, it’s about 4′ x 5′, not including the nesting boxes.  The space requirements you need per chicken are 4 sq ft in the coop and 10 sq ft in the run. 

We have 3 nesting boxes (where the chickens lay their eggs), and the girls generally share the boxes and only lay in one or two of them.  If I were to build another coop I would only have 2 nesting boxes.  I definitely like having access to the nesting boxes from outside the coop.  The pull-up hatch door makes egg collecting very easy, especially for the kids.

Even though we live in a very urban area we still have wildlife in the neighborhood.  We were extra cautious and poured a cement foundation to prevent any critters (raccoons, foxes, possums, coyotes, etc.) from digging under the run to get in.  We used standard 1 inch hexagonal chicken wire (poultry netting) to enclose the whole run to keep the chickens in and to keep predators out.  I asked Steve to build the run high enough for me to be able to walk in comfortably and I’m glad we did.  It’s really easy to keep the area clean and to change the hens food and water. 

Chickens “roost” at night, meaning they sleep on a branch or 2×4 piece of wood inside the coop.  A lot of poop falls to the ground in the coop.  I knew I wanted to do the “deep litter method” inside the coop so I wouldn’t have to clean out the poop every week.  I had Steve build the bottom of the coop to accommodate for 12-18 inches of pine shavings used to line the bottom of the coop.  All I do is add new pine shavings into the coop every month or so along with a sprinkling of food grade diatomaceous earth.  Every 2-3 days I “fluff” the pine shavings and poop around in the bottom of the coop.  The diatomaceous earth helps to dry out the poop and eliminate the odor.  I’ve really been surprised that our coop isn’t stinky.  With the deep litter method I only have to change out the pine shavings every year and they go straight into the compost bin. 

Just recently, with the addition of the new chicks, we’ve made some modifications to the coop.  We’ve added a “nursery” inside the run to separate the big hens from the little pullets (teenage chickens).  The “little girls” should be able to join the “big girls” when they are about 12-15 weeks old.  We just need them to be big enough to defend themselves from the other hens as the pecking order gets re-established when they are first introduced together. 

Our first egg

Our 1st egg

As I’ve said before, I’ve learned pretty much all that I know about raising chickens from Backyard Chickens.com.  It’s a great site to get ideas about building coops and for learning how to take care of chickens.  Let me know if you have specific questions on how we do things.  I’m learning as a go and I’d love to help others get started.

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So what’s better than having 3 pet chickens???  Having 5 chickens, of course!!!  Two weeks ago we added 2 new “girls” to our backyard flock.

Gilbert (Polish) & Marshmallow (Leg Horn)

We got our chicks at 1 week old and now they are 3 weeks old and starting to develop their feathers.  For the next 9 weeks or so the chicks will be separated from our other hens until they are big enough to defend themselves.  We should expect eggs from the new girls sometime at the end of September.

We let our chickens “free range” for several hours everyday so they can hunt and peck around the yard for bugs and greens.  They also have access all day to an organic grain mixture.  For special treats we give them a cracked corn and grain mixture (called scratch) and vegetable & fruit scraps from the house.  They will eat just about anything.

Are you interested in keeping your own “backyard chickens”???  I learned all I know about raising my girls from: www.BackyardChickens.com.  It’s a great site for getting ideas on coop design as well as everything chicken.  We get our chicks and all of our chicken supplies locally from Midway City Feed.  It’s right off of Beach Blvd and Bolsa Ave…714-893-2613.

So why did the chicken cross the road???

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