Hello, thanks for visiting "MY PAGE"...We are located in East Central Missouri, not too far from St. Louis..We've only been at this for about 5 months. But, we're having a good time at it! We purchases the chicks in May from Orscheln's, primarily as pets for our grandkids.
We suspected that taking care of chickens would be kind of a hassle, and we weren't sure whether we might be taking on more than we wanted to. But, we decided to make the best of it for the sake of a fun experience with the grandkids. We were eventually delighted to realize that this is actually pretty much fun after all! We love the fresh eggs, and we expect to be at this for quite some time.
Below is a photo of our chicken coop as it came originally from the manufacturer, Portable Livestock Shelters in Seymour, Missouri. It comes primed, but not painted. The stock coop does not come with electric, so we ordered the coop with an electrical upgrade that included an exterior weather proof box so you can plug in an extension cord to supply electric to the coop.
Inside the coop there is an electrical outlet, and two independent electrical switches that control two ceiling mounted light fixtures. In one of the ceiling mounted light fixtures we have one of those 40 watt high efficiency spiral shaped bulbs. In the other light fixture, we have one of those screw in 100 Watt Ceramic Heaters to keep the coop warm during the really cold winter months. I was really impressed with the quality of the electric work inside the coop. Everything's in PVC conduit, and uses heavy duty commercial boxes.
The coop was ordered with white trim, just as you see in the photos above. But, we decided to match the color of our 40' x 60' Crossbuck Red/White Metal Barn, so we painted the tan areas of the coop with three coats of matching red paint.
We purchased a dog kennel, and pushed it up against the coop to give the chickens a little more room to roam. The dog kennel came with a silver fitted tarp for the roof, which provides shade from the sun, and protection from predators patroling the skies.
The whole operation (below):
First Waterer (below). The pvc pipe fed/nippled waterer has since been replaced
by a 5 gallon bucket with a holed drilled in the bottom rim of the bucket to feed
water into a 4" tall galvanized oil pan that the bucket sits in. The vacuum created
from the lid being tightly on the bucket prevents water from overflowing the oil pan,
and it feeds water slowly into the oil pan from the 5 gallon bucket as the chickens deplete
the water supply in the bucket.
The nippled system worked well, but the chickens really like dipping their beaks fully into the
water in the oil pan to take a good long drink, something they can't do with the nippled
system. In addition, cleaning the bucket is easier because we don't have to mess with removal
of the PVC pipe. The nipples in the PVC Pipe system were pressed in, and we also found that we
ocassionallylost nipples when the chickens pecked for water.
The coop has since been put up on 6" high concrete blocks to enable us to rake
out the manure from under the breeze-way area (see below). Before putting it up on
blocks, removal of manure from under the breeze way floor, which has 1" x 1/2"
mesh that the chickens stand on, was going to be nearly impossible, and it was
starting to pile up under there. Now, cleaning the manure out from under the
breeze-way is very easy using just a simple rake.
The Aviary (below). We frequently spread straw around on the bottom of the
aviary. The chickens seem to like scratching around in the straw. You can throw
a flake of straw in there, walk away, and they'll have it spread out evenly throughout
the entire enclosure in a very short time
The chickens have a screened window we can open to give them a little
ventilation (see below). We can close and lock the window during the cold winter months.
The window is screened with 1" x 1/2" mesh. We've left it open all night during the summer
months, and they seem pretty secure.
Back of the coop (below)...the window can be latched shut during the winter
months for added warmth.
The coop has a clean out drawer that's situated under where the chickens
roost inside the coop at night (below). The drawer can be pulled out from the
coop, cleaned out, and we dump the manure on the garden.
Baby Chick-Buff Orphington
Baby Chick-Rhode Island Red (Below)
This photo is of the chickens around the time they started laying, around
early June, 2011.
Silver Wyondotte on the Nest (below)...We used fake wooden eggs to
train them to lay in the nest boxes. The eggs in the photo are the fakes.
They caught on in about 24 hours.
We originally used pine shavings on the floor of the coop, and they were all
using the next boxes. But, we started to use straw to line the floor
of the coop for winter warmth, and the Rhode Island Red has reverted
back to laying eggs on the floor of the coop again.
The Rhode Island Red is one of the smallest of the the bunch, and I guess she likes spreading out
on the floor of the coop in that cushy straw better than squeezing into cramped nest boxes.
All of the chickens have gotten so HUGE! But, the rest of them seem to be using the
nest boxes, even with straw on the floor.
We have (1) Silver Wyondotte (Above/Below), (2) Barred Rock (two photos back-black/white variegated),
(2) Buff Orphington,(Yellow-two photos back), and (1) Rhode Island Red (photo to follow).
Two of the four Barred Rock we had originally purchased, which are the black/white variegated ones
(two photos back, with the prominent red crests) turned out to be Roosters. We didn't really want to deal with the Roosters,
so we found them a happy home at the Rescue Ranch, which left us with only two Barred Rock Hens.
Rhode Island Red flapping her wings (below). She is one of the smaller ones, but she
lays the biggest eggs. They look like the Jumbo Size you see in the store, only they're a deep
reddish brown color.
Silver Wyondotte (below-left), Rhode Island Red (below-right)...
By the way, all the chickens have names too...The grandkids made sure of that.
I couldn't tell you which is which, but the grandkids can...
Only about 3 months old here (below)
First Egg (Below)...Store Bought (Left/White), (Middle/Brown-Our First Egg).
Eggs got a lot bigger within a few weeks. Now most eggs are normal to medium store size
with the Rhode Island Red and the Silver Wyondotte laying the largest eggs of the group.
Average Eggs Sizes (Below)...Getting about 4 to 5 eggs per day from a total of
Chickens inside the coop (below). The feeder is hung from a hook we installed
in the ceiling of the coop. I use crumbles, pellets, and natural grains all mixed together.
I especiallylike incorporating the natural grains to simulate a range fed habitat.
One of the Barred Rock Hens (below) perched inside the coop. They all love to
perch at dusk,and gaze out across the pasture. They're all safe and secure
behind the wire mesh. Each night, once they roost, we close the access door
between the coop and the aviary so they're protected from predators. Then,
each morning, we let them out into the aviary to peck and scratch.
This red door (below) leads from inside the coop to the breeze-way. The breeze-way is
kind of like an screened-in porch, then things transition through a door from the breeze way
to the Aviary. The builder used 1" x 1/2" mesh to form the walls of the breeze way.
Since the door from the coop to the breeze way is always open, we decided to put 1/2" mesh over the top of the
screening used by the builder, just to give them some added security from predators that like to reach.
Nest Boxes (Below)
I built a chicken tractor from a chicken run I saw advertised on Ebay, with the intention of letting them free range (below). The run was constructed of treated lumber, but it wasn't very durable.
We decided to convert it to a chicken tractor so we could roll it around, and let the chickens free range in a fully protected environment. We constructed a treated lumber frame for the run, installed metal bracing between all the panels, mounted wheels on the bottom of the tractor so we could push it around, installed a perch, mounted hooks for hanging a feeder and waterer, installed handles to easily grab hold and move the chicken tractor around, installed heavy duty screen skirting around the bottom to provide more protection from potential preditors, and we also reinforced all the 1/2" mesh with stainless steel staples. It works great!
But, eventually we decided that the chickens needed additional room to roam at the coop, so we connected the chicken tractor to the Aviary.
Here is the finished Chicken Tractor...Is has since been placed next to the Aviary, and more permanently attached to the coop/aviary in order to give the chickens a little more space to peck and scratch around. The chicken tractor can be easily detached from the Aviary, and it can still be used as a chicken tractor when we want to free range them.