On April 6th, 2010, we decided to add baby chicks to our family! We got 6 from the local farm down the street that were day old chicks: 2 Wyandotts, 2 Light Brahmas, and 2 Americaunas. We then drove to Tractor Supply to get their food and their chicken hutch. While there, the lady told us that there were 2 beautiful 1 week old Barred Rocks. Needless to say, we brought them home and then 8 was enough!
Building the Palace....We brought home the chicken hutch and the girls assembled it. We used it as a brooder and then, to keep them warm and safe, we moved it all into our lenai so we could plug in the heat lamp and check on them often. Of course, the girls loved being able to go out and hold the little fuzz balls!
Building the BIG palace....My husband and I have never built anything together and he was not into the whole chicken idea as the girls and I are...so I give him a lot of credit for helping with this project....so far! We quickly saw that the chickens would be outgrowing their "brooder" and would need a bigger home. The chicken hutch is really made for 4 regular size chickens (supposedly) and we had 8 growing babies that were ready to get out!! We would let them out to play in the grass and look for bugs while we were watching them as we began to build their run in mid-May. The run is 10' x 15' x 6' tall. We completely covered it in hardware cloth (except the roof which we used other wire because it was so difficult to work with...). We made the door and put up roofing panels on 1/2 of it to give them protection from the rain and sun. I know we will have to build a building that connects to the run so that this winter they will be able to get out of the cold. Yes, even in Florida it gets quite cold!
More building details...We did the best we could to make the pen solid. We buried the hardware cloth in the ground all around the perimeter and it is completely covered. This should hold up for them until we add on a permanent coop/building later this fall. We have the hutch setting inside the pen and they like to go under it, in it and roost on top of it. We have different roosts throughout the pen to give them choices on where to go. We also put in the "royal" touch of adding sod to half of their pen! They love it and so do we. It allows us to walk into their pen and not have to step in the sand that has chicken poop all in it. When we go out to do the "chicken chores", we spray the poop right into the grass, spray off the roof of the chicken hutch, give them fresh food and water and then let them free range during the day. They LOVE running around on our 5 acres! We also have flowers around the outside of the pen and chicken decorations for our pleasure more than theirs! The chickens are now about 18 weeks and we are expecting them to start paying us back any day now by giving us some beautiful eggs!!