I live in East Central Illinois, in the little rural town of Longview. We moved there in the Fall of 1999, so that we could have our horses in our back yard. I have owned chickens for about 4 years now, “dipping my toe in the water”, so the speak, by starting with only one hen. We got “Billina,” a white Longhorn, when my DD had a high school class that hatched out tinted chicken eggs. She lived for about 2 ½ years, then she caught a chill and passed away. We really enjoyed her oversized eggs, and missed them. So a few months later, in April, 2007 I went to a livestock auction and bought a clutch of 6 Rhode Island Red chicks. As luck would have it, 5 were roosters. We kept them inside until June. Then, we built a couple of shade “lean-to’s” and put those and the birds into a 10 x 10, 6 ft. high chain-link dog enclosure, in the “inner sanctum, which is the area in front of my barn. When the Fall came, I took the roosters back to the same auction and sold them. Hard to say if it was a profit. The chicks cost me $1.00/each, and the seven month old roosters brought me $4.00/each, but I don’t think I counted my costs well enough to say. I kept their sister, the one hen, "Fanny," in an old rabbit hutch that I had inherited when I “adopted” an unwanted rabbit for a friend, back in 2001. Although I had put 4 coats of exterior paint on and inside of it, I moved it to the inside of my barn first, for “Billina”. Fanny liked it there, just fine, and lived there until the Winter of 2009. Note that the bottom of the cage is made from ¼ inch hardware cloth, and will make a dandy cage to start new chicks in, in the future.
One hen didn’t lay enough eggs for my needs, so I ordered 10 RIR chicks in February, 2009.
What luck—3 roosters and 7 hens!! <--March 26, 2009--Baby chicks arrive...
...in a box...from Farm and Fleet!
Actually, the clerks there have so much fun during chick days!
This time they started in a rabbit cage in our home “office” with a heat lamp.
Here's some hot chicks with some hot chicks.
Then, they moved to the basement and I divided them into two rabbit cages. When it was time to subdivide yet again, I moved them to the porch.
NEVER AGAIN!!! The house, even a FARM house isn’t meant to rear babies, unless it’s an emergency!!!!! Got the porch finally cleaned up. The other areas don’t smell like birds anymore, either.
I HAD to move all of them to the outdoors, but I had taken down the dog enclosure and stored it. I found a different place in the “inner sanctum” for their run, which is a sharp turn to the right and in the north part of this pasture. This area has much better drainage than the original location. My birds lived here (below) all summer.
In September, 2009, I decided to send my roosters to freezer camp. They were very tasty, but I question the amount of meat on “dual-purpose” birds. I may consider buying Cornish Cross chicks next time, and raise them the 16 weeks for their meat.
Our temperatures range from about –5 degrees F to about 90 degrees F, with almost ALWAYS humidity. Illinois was a great, big swamp, and no amount of tiling is gonna change that! Although I cheated last winter, and put my seven RIR hens inside a horse stall in my barn, I am building their coop right now. Here they are, in my wooden barn, without any windows, in a 12 x 16 stall, but with plenty of ventilation.
…while the dogs played…
(My gelding next door let me know that he didn't like 'em there. ) My birds were dry and happy on bedding which rested on top of rubber stall mats on a cement floor. I put their water in a small, deep rubber feeding bowl. When the water froze, it was easy to break out the ice and refill. I also had a lamp on for them during the day, as you can see in the above picture. Believe me, I keep the doors open in my barn during the winter, and last winter I had two horses in the barn contributing to the humidity. All barn residents were dry, happy and healthy.
For my new chicken coop I am tearing about an old wooden playhouse, 7 ft x 8 ft, replacing any rotten wood, and rebuilding it. I love the design because there is a lot of open window space.
Some dingbat moved this building from somewhere else decades ago and placed it on a cement slab, where the rain could do a number on it's base.
If you are planning your new coop, please to read this article about open-front chicken houses and ventilation.
The author recommended ripping the fronts off of existing, damp coops to make the buildings airy and healthy. I think if you compare buildings, you will agree my playhouse has good windows.
ALSO, read what patandchickens says about ventilation, coop-building, and chicken runs:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/vie … mperatures
August 13, 2010 (ducks4you was a camera clinkin' FOOL today!!!)
Dead Center bottom is where the coop will be started this weekend. Silly girls just LOVE that stupid dog igloo. They put themselves to bed in it at night. (go figure) And, they use it as a nest box. I have a tarp right now, but that will change.
Log on Building "The Gem" Coop~