Coop Improvements, part 3

I now have three generations of chickens living in three coop-sheds with a large, covered outdoor run! The girls are getting along great and thriving. Here’s how I tied Coop 3 to Coop 2:

I saved the chicken wire from the goat run when I replaced it with salvaged fence. It was new – purchased last year when we got the goat’s – and in excellent shape. I kept it knowing we would expand the chicken run and reusing this perfectly good material only made sense (cents – ha!). Chicken wire across the bottom is a must to keep baby birds in and predators out. I also bury about a foot into the ground to keep foxes and dogs from digging under the fence. I use tree trunk portions to keep the fence taut, keep it buried, and add an additional few inches of protection to the border.

I used bird netting to cover the ceiling and about 18″ of the walls. I love that when I’m inside the ceiling is nearly invisible, and the material is much stronger than I would ever have believed. Maggie the cat is about 7 pounds and can sit comfortable on the netting to nap or watch Chicken TV (not that this is encouraged!). I used cable ties instead of staples to attached the chicken wire to the 1′ x 4′ slats – strong and kept the integrity of the wood.

The door is only about 2′ wide – I struggled with post placement thanks to the myriad of stumps in the ground – but it works for my need. It latches on the outside. This door will mainly be used to give my birds treats from the garden. If we ever expand the run to include Coop 1 the door will become the entryway to that space.

Once the new exterior fence was completed I removed two walls of the previous run space that were now interior. Now I had to deal with the 1 foot – yes 1 foot! – differential between the space. The slope is that steep and that much mud, straw, food waste, other waste, pumpkin rinds, and more had formed a rather horrifying (and smelly) strata. Every day or two I use my turning fork to turn the ground – the birds love to grab for the worms and dig around in the dirt. The section has slowly turned into more of a slope than a cliff, but it will take a while for things to really level out.

The ducks are loving the pond – they can easily access it from all sides. The chickens walk up the ramp or perch on the edges to drink. This shot may give you a better idea of the run space – it’s pretty significant. The ducks nestle in straw on either side of the pool, the hens wander all over throughout the day searching for tasty morsels. The hens also perch on the wood pile I set behind the white shed. The pile’s main intent is to block access under the sheds and keep the hardware cloth netting down – I was hoping the birds would also play around on the pile and am happy to see them doing so. Chad’s Chickens are the only ones thus far to get as high as the tree trunk – we’ll see if anyone else get’s brave!

Hens are so curious – the girls love visiting the new shed during the day, but so far only Chad’s Chickens sleep there at night. It will be interesting to see where this year’s hens choose to roost.

I’m quite happy with how the space turned out and have no real plans to expand further. I’ve hit the limit I set for myself of 50 hens – the space I have is more than enough for them. Besides, I don’t intend to farm only chickens – they are my year round income stream but not my only focus. The only item left  is to paint Coop 1 – weather should turn warmer soon so I can check that off my coop improvement list for the year.

That doesn’t mean I’m done with construction for the year, though. We are anticipating goat babies this fall and will need to expand and improve their space. That won’t happen until May – I need to get more veg planted first!

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