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Pen design for back problems

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by JSCA, Oct 31, 2016.

  1. JSCA

    JSCA New Egg

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    Oct 31, 2016
    I'm just setting up my pens but I have a specific issue.

    I have a serious back problem and it is incredibly difficult, painful, and dangerous to be reaching to the ground, or near ground level.

    I need to mount nest boxes so the bottom is about 44" above the ground. The mounting, etc. is simple enough, my question is what is the best way to make these boxes available/attractive to my hens?

    I am planning on a long board from the ground up, questions, width of board? are small cleats needed? Length of board?

    I'd appreciate suggestions for a solution, please don't make the solution unworkable, such as lowering the nest box height.

    Thanks

    JSCA
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    For active layers, 44 inches is not too much to hop up onto as long as you have a landing perch in front of the boxes. If you have the room, a ramp would work fine.
     
  3. JSCA

    JSCA New Egg

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    Thanks, that makes me feel better. Any suggestion how long the ramp should be - I have about 20' of run beyond the where the nests will go so distance isn't a problem. I just want happy, healthy, productive, and tasty chickens. Kidding about the tasty part, my family insists that all meat comes on little trays wrapped in plastic. I'm having a battle convincing them that the eggs are OK! I have a separate, smaller run, that is set up for 4-6 hens for just eggs, no roosters allowed - per my family demands!
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I agree with Azygous as long as you don’t have Silkies that can’t fly. If you have Silkies yes, you need a ramp. But I suggest putting a perch maybe 9” in front of the nests for them to fly up on to make it easier to get in the nests. I don’t know what your nests look like. If the lip in front of the nest is at least 3/4” you probably don’t even need a perch but one won’t hurt. A ramp will be a tripping hazard and will be in your way getting around in there. Probably the easiest thing for you to use for a perch is a 2x4, either flat or on edge, that detail doesn’t matter.

    I can be a little weird I know. In my grow-out coop I used a tree limb about 3” in diameter and maybe at a 45 degree angle to the ground as a chicken ramp. Most of the time they’d fly up or down but sometimes some would walk up or down. People really overthink these ramps. But if you absolutely insist on a ramp, make it 6” to 12” wide, put it at a 45 degree angle or flatter, and put small strips across it every 6” for them to grip as they walk up and down. Or simplify your life and just put a perch.
     
  5. JSCA

    JSCA New Egg

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    Oct 31, 2016
    My nests are going to be a bit strange.

    I am using trap nests where a door closes behind the hen when she enters.

    This will allow me to identify the hen/rooster for the particular egg.

    I will be incubating and working toward improving my lines.

    Because of this I had planned to have the bottom of the nest extend out an extra eight inches from the front of the nest. Sounds like this will work well.

    I plan on positioning the front of the nests about 18" out and facing the side of the pen. That will make it easy to add a ramp along the side of the pen, out of the way. Also, the ramp will probably be used as a landing perch and then they will walk up to the nest.

    The nests will have an access door in the back for me to get the eggs and then I can reset the door for the next hen.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Flying up to 44" is one thing, but flying down may be a problem depending on the available floor space for a landing area.
    I'd keep any ramp at 35 degrees or less with 1/2" x 1/2" cleats at closer to 4".
    Trap nests will need a perch on front.

    Roosts are usually best installed higher than the nests to deter roosting in nests, but your trap nests might deter that if you can close them up before roost time.
    Examining chicken off the roost at night is easiest, but if roosts are too high that might be hard on you too.

    Would be concerned about keeping chickens and not being able to pick one up off the ground if needed.
     
  7. JSCA

    JSCA New Egg

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    I agree that there is a concern should I need to pick up a chicken, etc. I can do that a few times in a day but if I had to do it 20-30 times I would be crippled for the rest of the day. I do have people that can help me if I need it but I also want to do as much as I can on my own. I'm looking forward to the pride of having a healthy, lively flock that is improving every season through selective breeding, etc.

    It will be easy to close the nests at the end of each day so that should take care of the roosting issue. Thanks for the heads-up.

    By the way, for biosecurity reasons I am having the pens built 700' from neighboring structures, pens, etc. Finally found a use for that station wagon I've been letting sit. I'll drive back and forth, no way I'd be able to carry loads that kind of distance.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Station wagon.....circa???
     
  9. JSCA

    JSCA New Egg

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    The station wagon is a 2000 Saturn, it is in good working condition but was totaled because of small hood/fender damage. Since I have property I just hung onto it. I'll put a new battery in it and add some good fuel and it will be ready to go. Since it won't leave the property no registration or insurance is needed. I have other trucks, etc. if I need to haul off property.
     
  10. JSCA

    JSCA New Egg

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    I'm breed Araucana's and thus am culling for the best features of that breed. Most of the sales will go to hobbyists who want the powder blue eggs.

    I currently have about 135 birds. I will be culling down to about 100 by replacing at about a 2:1 ratio, 2 culls to 1 add based on the best of the hatches.

    I am using a bank of incubators in a separate hatchery shed.

    I am considering setting up the brooding so that they birds get out in the fresh air as early as possible, will still have the heat source, but will allow an outside run so they can build natural immunities.

    I am planning on going Organic to make the birds more appealing to those who want to purchase the babies.

    The pens are each 144 sq ft, all under roof but with wire walls that allows for air circulation.

    Because of the distance to the pens we have built for security from predatory animals (not humans). First, the site for the pens has been circled with 6' chain link. This fence is about 10-15' away from the pens themselves and is there to keep out livestock, dogs, etc.

    Had to run water a full 700', along with buried electrical conduit. Drew the line at running internet to the back, will settle for a portable hot spot if I need that.

    For the pens, the lower 4' of the exterior walls are all 1/4" hardware cloth, the upper portion of the walls is 1/2" finch wire. The 1/4" hardware cloth also extends down 2' along the entire perimeter.

    The lower 4' of the separation walls also has the 1/2" finch wire, with 1" chicken wire above that and along the upper areas between rafters, etc.

    There is a 4' service alley that runs the length of the pens allowing double doors between the birds and the outside.

    Each pen will have a set of freestanding nest boxes that will allow me to walk up to the backs. Under the nest boxes will be a treadle feeder and a bowl for grit. There are 4 water nipples for each run allowing continuous fresh and clean water. The roost will also be freestanding and will have a 24"x48" dust bath underneath.

    We are still tweaking things a bit but it is coming along and I have to confess I grow more excited each day. I'm not turning on the incubators until we have the trap nests in place and at that point then I will start to see the payoff for all the planning.

    Some of the silly stuff, I have some portable picnic chairs with small attached side tables that are going to end up being kept out in the pens so I will have places to sit down and write notes, etc. Beginning to determine where to put the various pieces of equipment like nets, hooks, etc.

    I have some very dear friends that have put in about 100 hours thus far building the pens so that they will fill my needs.

    There is going to be a party when this thing gets finished.
     

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