Breeding coop

Our metal building breeding pens at Thunder Creek Farm
By EggGrl · Jul 23, 2018 ·
  1. EggGrl
    We started the process of streamlining our care of the chickens last year. We enjoy breeding, and hatching, but the care of the breeds and keeping them all in separate coops was too time consuming. My husband and I both have full time jobs off the farm. I am a full time Emergency Veterinarian, working exclusively night shift. The care of nearly 100 chickens now takes us only 5 to 10 minutes for daily chores, about 1 hour once weekly, and 4 hours once monthly. Here's how we did that:

    Our metal shed is 24' x 42'. We added extra height to the roofline, making it 7' minimum, and 9' at the center/peak. The ends are open to allow for sunlight and ventilation. We block these off partially in winter with clear plastic.

    There are chain link panels inside to separate the breeds. We currently.have 8 10 x 10 pens, but can split any of those into 2, 10 x 5's to allow for smaller group breeding. The 10 x 10 pens allow enough room for 6 to 8 hens, and a rooster.

    The metal shed keeps things dry and shaded from the heat of the sun. We worried about metal getting too hot (the shed sits in an open field), but the height of the roof keeps the heat away from the chickens. At chicken level, things are quite pleasant. We hang box fans on the fence panels to keep the air moving, but only need them on very hot days with no breeze.

    In winter, the birds will use the nest boxes as huddle boxes to get out of the wind or cold. These work well, we learned that they need to have plenty of holes, or moisture builds up quickly, and frostbite becomes an issue. These are easily cleaned, and serve as roosts (sitting on top of the box) and nests for eggs.

    We refill all of the feeders once monthly. The garbage cans hold up to 100 pounds of feed and there is no waste from spillage. We don't have to worry about rain in this coop, but we had these same feeders in outside pens, and they worked well to keep the feed dry. The only down side if that if you have 2 roosters, or a dominant hen, they can inhibit other birds from getting enough food. We help this by opening the lid, and throwing some food to the ground for scratching every day or so.

    The watering system is what really helps us keep the work to a minimum. We have 55 gallon drums that get filled once every 2 weeks (though that could be done less often). A long line of PVC runs down the back of each pen, with automatic drinker cups. In winter, heat tape and an aquarium heater keeps everything from freezing.

    The pens are bedded with stone sand. Once weekly, I scrape the tops of the nest boxes into a wheel barrow, removing 80% of the manure without too much trouble. Once a month I use a pitch fork to get any caked litter/sand and replace more sand where needed.

    The only down side to the sand bedding is the dust (I wear a mask when cleaning), and the cold in winter. When we had a severe deep freeze, with temps in the single digits for several weeks straight, the sand became a problem for the birds that didn' roost off of it. I think it just pulls too much warmth from their feet, and they can get frostbite. Provide roosts to avoid this.

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    About Author

    I am a Veterinarian, and farm owner. Our farm, Thunder Creek Farm, produces some of the most rare breeds of chikens. We hatch nearly all year round, and sell chicks and started pullets.
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Recent User Reviews

  1. MROO
    "Nice breeding set-up if you have the space"
    3/5, 3 out of 5, reviewed Jul 24, 2018
    Good set-up. Nice use of an open shed. Very good tips for year-round weather, especially winterizing. Does not appear to have any predator proofing, so adding notes on how that is handled would be a big help.
    1. EggGrl
      I didn't mention it, as we will be changing this soon, but we have electric fencing all the way around the building. Right now it is single strand wire, on T-posts, and there are 4 strands. Now that the gates have been hung, we will have electric netting around the building, two low wired across each entrance gate and a high wire to prevent climbing over. The climbing wire goes on the exterior panels, as well as each individual pen.
      The ground at the base of the metal building, and under all of the fence panels has been poured over with concrete, so they can't dig.


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