My husband and I have been talking about getting a couple of laying hens for the past couple of years. This spring we decided to take the plunge. With some disagreement about living arrangements for the birds, I managed to draw up a fairly detailed plan of how I envisioned the coop. Lucky for me, my husband has quite a lot of building experience and was able to follow my plans with only a few modifications for the better!
Even though we really had no place for them, I felt that the building of the coop would move much faster if we already had the chicks and needed a place to put them. I have been keeping them in an extra large dog kennel for the past 2 weeks. They have done well, but now that the coop is almost built I am both looking forward to and dreading introducing them to their new home. As luck would have it, the weather has turned cold again (woke up to 2 inches of snow on 4/14!) and I have no way to heat their new coop. On the other hand, chickens are stinky and I can't wait to have them out of my house!!
My husband and I live in eastern Nevada at over 5000 feet, where I take care of over 55 "retired wild horses" at a sanctuary for mustangs. We are literally in the "middle of nowhere," totally off the grid, and are working more and more toward self-sufficiency. In my selection of chicks, I did some research on different breeds in regards to their laying tendencies and cold hardiness since I have no way to provide continuous heat during the frigid winter months. I also wanted some birds that would be fun to look at when my nieces and nephews come to visit. I ended up getting Silver-laced Wyandottes, Golden-laced Wyandottes, a Light Brahma, and an Easter Egger (who doesn't want green eggs??). Originally I had planned on just 1 of each breed, totalling 4 hens. However, when my husband brought home the 2 wyandottes I had asked for, he brought an additional 2 chicks, bringing our total to 6 birds. Hopefully the coop won't be too cramped once the pullets are full grown!
4/15/12 Hubby finished the hen house today, with the exception of the outdoor run. I think we are going to try the chicks inside the coop for the night (we will put the coop back in the shop) even though we have no heat to it. The roof and roosting box have foam insulation board and the coop seems to hold the heat from the sun fairly well, so I'm fairly confident they will be warm enough. I put them in this afternoon and they appear to be very happy!
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