Hello from east central Ohio.
Back in the 1950s my grandfather had a chicken farm called Morning Gem. He raised nearly 3000 layers in cages in a big block building, then drove around delivering eggs to homes and businesses. By the time I came along the building was a tractor shed and the chickens were gone. I can't say I would have enjoyed that type of chicken farming, though.
I'm just getting into chickens for hobby and for food. This is my first experience with chickens, and I'm excited to add these creatures to my 1.7 acre home. I'm hoping to get a laying flock going of 15-20 hens with one rooster (maybe 2). I chose a spot just below our detached garage that gets a lot of morning and southerly sun.
Chicken house raising day was October 11, 2008, but I soon realized that Rome wasn't built in a day -- and neither was my 10 x 12 coop. I'm still working hard at it when I can get extra helping hands. I chose to do a large shed that would 1) look good from the road and 2) easily convert to other purposes if chickens didn't work out for me.
Day 2 - Putting on the roof which does have a slant that isn't showing in these pictures.
Day 3 - Framing in last wall
I've painted walls and screened in windows between days when my "contractor" is on site. Most all is new material, but I have been able to use salvaged windows, which aren't hung yet. The run will extend out the rear of the building toward my neighbor's barn. The floor was covered with a very cheap piece of linoleum I got at Lowes.
On Saturday, November 1, 2008, I got my first 5 chickens, so we had to scramble to finish securing the house for them. Here is the front with door and window in.
We worked on some nest boxes, which ended up a bit smaller than I wanted. There is a long slit door that folds down in my small storage area where I can check for eggs without going into the chicken area. The chickens are roosting up there and leaving lots of poo, so I'll have to work on that issue. The gate beside it is a temporary thing made from a pallet topper. There is still a lot of work to do like covering the interior walls where the chickens are pecking the insulation foam, redoing the roost to be taller and longer, hanging food/water containers, hinging windows, cutting the pop door, and finishing the run. SIGH!
Here are the residents, starting with 2 Black Australorp hens. They are quite large, and their iridescent coloring is rather intimidating to me here at first.
First 2 eggs came the day after the chickens arrived (one got pecked). I suspect the BAs are the layers. I was surprised that they felt so at home.
Then here are my Speckled Sussex and Buff Orpington hens.
The rooster is also Buff Orpington. I like to call him Romeo Roo.
The current yard is 10 x 10. It was quickly readied for use, but I'll be extending a yard out the rear of the coop as soon as I can in spring.
I have just 7 hens, and one special day I got 7 eggs (which I carried in the dog food bucket). At Christmas 2008, I'm averaging 5 eggs a day. I'm blessed!
Update in March 2009.
I have 11 hens with my one rooster now. The enlarged roost is installed. I laid the 2x4s into stabilizing slots so that they can be removed if need be. We put in another couple of nest boxes above my first row, and above that is an area what was for storage but it became a temporary pen for an over amorous rooster.
I like my coop quite well. I love having 5 large windows that can be opened. The coop is very dusty and the breeze through the windows helps to clear some of that on warm days.
If I was starting a coop today, I would go even larger so I could have multiple pens, a brooder, and an isolation area. I guess I need more of a barn because this chicken thing is addictive.
Update in August 2009.
The obsession grows. I now have chickens in every stage from incubating eggs to laying hens. I have turkeys, geese, ducks, and even a few brooding peacocks and guinea. I'll need to downsize before winter.
My yard now looks like this:
For my second coop that holds primarily turkey, I bought an Amish-made building and had it moved in. There was very little I had to do to convert it to a coop, and I love that. I built this two-piece shelter to house feathered chicks.
Thankfully my egg customers still are loyal, and I rarely have enough extras in the refrigerator to put up this roadside sign.
Can't believe it is already 2010!
I'm still poultry addicted and still selling both eating and hatching eggs. Now I'm even NPIP certified by the state of Ohio.
I enjoyed trying guinea and peafowl, but I sold those. My current holdings include:
Gold Laced Wyandotte
Blue/Black/Splash LF Cochin
Blue/Black/Splash LF Amerucana
Mille Fleur Bearded d'Uccles
Fawn and White Runners
White and Magpie call ducks
Bourbon Red turkey
Mini Rex rabbits
May 2010 -- It's the time for decision making and paring down to what I really want to work with. So I sold the turkeys, but I'll likely get more as soon as I have housing that can keep them from flying out of and getting taken down by fox.
Sold the Columbian Wyandottes, Mille Fleur d'Uccles, Sebrights, and Welsh Harlequins. Traded Magpie call ducks for Pastels and sold half the Whites.
Got a cabinet incubator and am starting heritage preservation of Dorking chickens and Hook Bill ducks. Finally got a hold of some Barnvelders, but now may not be the time. We'll see. Also have some nice Wheaten Marans to work with. Still too many breeds than I have separate pens for -- or real time.
I have decided that my passion seems to be in preserving heritage breeds that have a story to tell about the history of farming and such -- and for blue birds. LOL
It has been fun this spring selling poultry and getting to meet other poultry enthusiasts.