My sister started raising chickens about four months ago. At first, I was a little humored, but as she continued posting pics and updates on facebook, I was slowly drawn into the world of chickens. As Mother's Day approached, my husband asked what I wanted and was amused when I answered, "A chicken coop." Living within city limits and on only 3/4 acres, my first move was to contact the zoning department. The nice lady there gave me a very vague, "Well, you're not SUPPOSED to, but people do..." answer. I checked with my closest neighbor who gave me a thumbs up, so we proceeded.
Original plan was to build the Wichita Cabin Coop by Baldessariclan, but after researching and getting input from you great folks we realized with the Alabama heat, we needed a more open plan. So, we modified the Wichita to be three sided and then we extended the run to the front since ours will not be free range.
Two weeks, one tornado, lots of wire induced scratches and pokes, a bit of spousal disagreement, fussing kids and around $400 later, we have the coop and run (still needs some painting):
That is not rust on roof--it's dirt. One good rain will fix that!
Same day coop was completed, friend delivered four hens. Amazingly, we had eggs within two hours. One poor hen even laid an egg in the rabbit cage they were transported in and held in while we completed the coop.
Our only other pet is an eight month old great dane puppy named Grace. She makes us a bit nervous around the chickens, but she is a gentle giant. Here, she stole what was left of the bale of wheat straw and made herself a bed right next to the coop/pen.
Today, Grace and our 11 year old autistic son caused a bit of excitement. Our son, fascinated with the chickens, went into the run and left the door open. The chickens escaped and Grace pursued. Thank God our daughter was outside with friends and her yelling at Grace alerted us to the problem. All chicken were fine and after about two hours of checking out the back yard, they returned to the run on their own. *note*We now have a padlock on the door. This was already planned, just had not been done yet...oops.
We made a feeder and waterer from buckets. We chose to not attach them to the saucers so that we didn't have to worry about mold/rot between the bucket and saucer.
I have been fascinated with chicken behavior. First thing they did that humored me was move wheat straw from the coop into the run. I couldn't decide if they wanted it there or not, but after one hen laying making a nest in the straw and laying an egg, I decided to remove most of the straw from the coop and run; only leaving the straw in the nesting boxes. One hen has successfully used the nesting box, but otherwise we've found eggs in various places. Today, I put golf balls in the nesting boxes so hopefully they will all start using the boxes.
Also fascinating to me was the self-segretation of the birds. We have three red (I think mixed breed) chicken and one black. When my son let them out today, the three reds stayed together and returned to the run as a group. The black one roamed alone. When it first happened, we couldn't find her and feared the worst. She was hiding under our pool deck and came out after about thirty minutes, but even after the others returned to the coop, she continued to wander for another hour or two.
I'm loving the chickens!! Thanks for looking at my page!
War Eagle (The grandest bird of all!)