New Henstein Castle
After working on my husband to agree to lettin me add 5 chickens to our family, I finally got HIM working on our coop. It wasn't the delicious eggs or the charm that the chickens would add to our home, but the actual project that would require toooools! That was what tipped him over the edge.
First we looked for books on how to build chicken coops, but soon I found BackYardChickens.Com. Jackpot! We got an idea what was most important, such as square footage per chicken and how many nesting boxes. Soon we felt confident to sit down and sketch out a design for our little palace. Being a native German, we thought that this was our chance to build a Tudor style inspired home for our little peeps.
The size: 5' x 3 1/2'. 2' off the ground. Total hight 6 1/2'. Everything else was "eyeballed by my master builder of a husband". We have good eyeballs apparently considering that nothing went wrong except for a couple things we cheated our way through.
(05/20/2010 -- I am adding the dimensions today as we've gotten quite a few requests on it. Please do feel free to email me if you have questions. We are proud that so many people like what we have done. Send pictures of your coops to us and we will be posting them to this site. Should be fun to see how everything turns out with everyone putting in their own ideas.)
Mostly 1*2 construction
Roof peak 50
Stands off approximately 2 feet
Make sure to cut a hole somewhere for a plug to fit through. You will need a light source in winter to warm the coop and lengthen their daylight for continuous egg-laying.
The nest box has two compartments with a roof that opens for egg removal. Oops, didn't fit honey?
I found these charming castiron plant stands and used them for windows.We had to drill holes into the legs and then screwed them tight.
I painted the interior with exterior paint to allow for easy cleaning. I wanted to be able to hose the coop out when it needs to get detailed.
Henrietta, Golden Sexlink; Pulette and Brunette, Rhone Island Reds; Gretchen, Barred Rock (she turned boy and needed to move out); Lorelei, Black Australorp
All in all, the coop, with all of its roofing, venting, fancy accessories, and the chicken run only cost us $450. Our chickens are going to be living large. Hey, why not name it after Neu Schwan Stein Castle? New Hen Stein Castle was ready for a house warming.
The feeder and waterer are pretty close to the left gate. Now I would have put them even closer to the gate or make the gate larger. I have to reach really far in and get on my ellbows and knees to hang them up. Which reminds me - We bought one of the plastic waterers for the ground. Chickens are messy drinkers and dirt swimms in the water quickly. So we drilled a hole in the top which ruined the suction and all the water would pour out. An easy fix was to screw our hook in with two rubber washers on the inside and outside of the waterer. Et voila.
I had to put logs around the coop. Sanders, our dog, went crazy for the little chicks when they first moved in. Natural retrieving instincts.
But now he couldn't care less. Charming.
FYI for BYC. All of our effords to design a spacey and comfortable home for these girls; a home where they can stretch their wings and have their own little private space; were in vain. Please see for yourself how a chicken values quality cuddle time more than a spacious lounge.
My ladies are now 21 weeks old and aren't even thinking about laying eggs. They had heaven on earth free ranging and eating bugs and greens at their heart's content. They actually snobbed my outer lettuce leaves from the kitchen.
I started crawling underneath bushes and behind hedges - their fav hangouts - just to see if someone layed an egg outside the coop. But nothing Then it dawned me. We just headed into fall. Rainy season has arrived in the PNW. Go figure! Now they re on house arrest. At least most of the day. My heart goes out to them and so they get a couple of hours during lunch for exploring the yard. I added light inside the coop and put it on a timer for 2 h before day break. That should give them 14h of daylight and with that they better not wait till spring to give me my deserved eggs.
I put another strip of wood in front of the nest box to make it even more private, put a couple of golf balls in and now we're waiting.
First Egg!! Just in time on her 24 week birthday my Golden Sexlink Henrietta laid a perfec little egg. Can you find it below?
We added the extra lighting in the morning and sure enough after a few days there was a beautiful, warm egg inside one of the nest boxes. You can imagine I was eggstatic! Who laid the egg?? Next day I went to spy and found Henrietta, Golden Sexlink, to be the generous donor. After I came home around lunch time I went to let the girls out of their run to go grab some bugs in the yard. I peeped inside the nest box - Another EGG!!! Somebody must have gotten inspired and gave Henrietta's egg a little friend. Now I have been finding one to two eggs every day. Still the mystery is killing me and so today I will stay home and sneak up on the coop to find out who the other layer is.
|Days later, the Rhode Island Red, Brunette, was missing in the bunch and gave herself up as the mystery layer. When will the others take the hint???|
Finally even little Poulette is giving us her eggs. Loudly she announced a couple of days ago: Bokbokbogoooooaak I am laying, I am laying, I am hurting!!!
Here are all of their babies fresh from this morning. We are so proud.
fltr: Rhode Island Red, Rhode Island Red, Golden Sexlink, Australorp
Miscarriage. This was rather shocking. I heard it from others but boy did it scare me to find egg poops underneath their roost. Two of them! I believe it must have been one of the two new layers. Two days later we find all four eggs in the box again. Strange but I'm glad it didn't happen again.
Thank you BYC administrators for giving our page honorable mentions after the last coop contest. We are very proud to be GOLDEN FEATHER MEMBERS.
The fact that our page can now be seen by coop-building-apprentices has produced a number of emails with some questions about our construction and wheather we would do things differently.
Here is a list of things I would recommend you should pay attention to:
Make sure you hang your waterer and feeder in good reach - mind you have to hang it when it is full. I didn't and now I have to get on my knees and aim the loop on the hook. I will work on fixing this soon.
To paint the inside of the coop with exterior paint has been a blessing. It is very easy to clean when you need to hose the coop out every once in a while.
Digging a trench that would be filled with gravel for drainage is another thing I regret doing. Also a run should get filled with playsand to allow dust baths and for feces absorbtion. Ours turned into rock-hard clay and got kinda smelly over the winter.
Placing the run 1' underground would have avoided the hens to try to dig their way out. Maybe they thought the worms are greener, uh, more scrumptious on the other side.
Buying the right food. I just read a great post here about feeding your chickens whole grains and cat food was a better way than using layer pellets. I will do some research on this matter. If you want to read the article here is a link. http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=277593&p=10
There will be more things added. We are still learning and this website is our best teacher. Thanks!!
Don't say chickens aren't smart. Mine aren't and I doubt I just had a lucky hand.
If a chicken left alone, because of prior flight (used in both senses of the word) from/out of the the chicken run, doesn't know how to get back inside her home because we her guardians aren't home, will she still find a safe place to spend the night? SURE she will. She would seek a place that is dark and warm, somewhere up high, somewhere prestigious to ruffle her feathers in style and somewhere she will be discovered first thing when her guardians reappear.
Eggsactly or better Accuraly!!!
We've been having problems with the eggs of the Australorb. Here are the posts:
Hi, about a week or so ago one of my chickens started laying these white eggs with a brown spot on the fat end of the egg. The eggs all of my chickens lay are brown normally so this is weird. The white egg is fine aparently. We still eat it but maybe we shouldn't? Is that hen sick? Missing something in her diet? None of them sneezes or acts strangely. They get layer pellets and table scraps. About 2-3 times a week they get to roam about the yard and find themselves some treats. Hmmm, any ideas?
"If they are molting, that would lighten up the brown eggs and could leave pigment on one end. They're fine to eat."
Yesterday I found another eggpoop and the eggs have been thin and rough and white with that brownish spot on the tip of the shell. Weird! I am reposting today and adding the info to this site later.
July 19th update. After blogging with various BYC members about this soft egg issue. I was given this link. http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=359503&p=1
Very interesting. I am still reading but the symptoms truely fit Lorelei.
After a very long molting season - about 3 months! - my hens are ALL laying eggs again. Even my trouble maker Australorp proves herself worthy of her food ;)
I found that the most reliable in our bunch are the Rhode Island Red and the Golden Sexlink. The latter might have an occasional "broody moody" but she will lay the most beautiful eggs every day!
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Duramycin and egg consumption:
One of my hens started this weezing sound when breathing in. She seemed fine otherwise. I gave it a couple of days and she didn't improve. When the little pullets started croaking too
I was recommended to give Duramycin 10, an antibiotic. I did research here on the site about the safety of consuming eggs during this period. DON'T EAT THE EGGS!
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=414380 here is the link of someone who called the maker of the antibiotics. They say 21 days after the last dose was administered.