Thursday, June 28, 2012

The New and Improved Chicken Run...

We've been needing to do some improvements to the chicken run we've had for a little while now.  Now that we have 16 birds they need more space.  I've also decided it would be alot easier to clean it out and get to eggs that are occasionally laid in the dirt if it was tall enough for me to actually stand inside it.  If it was bigger they wouldn't kill all the grass inside which makes for a healthier run.  The biggest reason however, is that the old coop was coming a part in a few areas, and the chickens were digging down into the dirt along the edges to stay cool.  We have had something reach under and grab at chickens, and we have had some wild cats get in, and it was just a matter of time before we lost more than the two adolescent chicks, and started losing hens too.

Granddaddy sent us a little money to help with shoring it up, and we took what I've been saving from selling eggs, and we started looking around. We found some hog wire on sale. I thought it was a little too wide, because the chickens can stick their heads out to peck at grass on the other side, but Gary pointed out it'll be more than sturdy enough to keep anything out of it. We raided Granddaddy Garland's barn, Gary's parents, and the pole barn here for wood to frame it up. We found almost everything we needed, except for a couple of long 2x4s. Gary got those and a screen door at Lowes. The one thing we had trouble finding was some sort of aviator netting to go over the top of the run. Real aviator netting is pretty expensive, and most of the deer netting we found wasn't wide enough, and was really expensive. I finally found some netting for covering fruit trees to keep the birds off of them, for cheap down at Ace Hardware.

It took us about a week, due to Gary working in the evenings and rain every afternoon, but we got it all finished, before we went back to Alabama to pick up the kids.  It's been really rainy the last few weeks, so the ladies have spent most of their time in the coop, but they seem to like the new roost bars outside, and all the room to run around.  The coop covers the area that the old coop did, so it's mostly just dirt there, so that's were they take their dust baths.  Most mornings though you can see them all huddled up under the guava bushes in the shade.  There is less squabbling too, now that they have more space, and less broken eggs.

Gary also helped me make some repairs to the old run, and build in a small coop into it.  We still need to fashion some sort of lid to it, so that I can get eggs out, but we've moved all the Marans together into it.  I've got them separate because I'm hoping to try to hatch one more set of eggs out of them.  In the oldest and littlest pen, we have the coop attached that Uncle Quintin built when they had chickens.  Right now we have our only Maran chick from our last hatch, back in April.  When she is big enough, we will move her in with the others, and that pen will be available for another batch of chicks.  All in all, I think we have a nice set up, and if we decided to quit keeping chickens, Gary pointed out that the new run, would make a good dog pen.

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