Temporary Breeding Pens Within the Coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Diavolicchio, Jan 18, 2010.

  1. Diavolicchio

    Diavolicchio Buk Buk Buk Buh-GAWWWK

    I'd like to get feedback from the experts on here regarding breeding pens.

    When it comes time to breed my chickens (not for resale, but for producing my own additional pullets and cockerels), my guess is that I'll need to have breeding pens for approximately 12 weeks per year. I like the idea of having them contained safely within the coop itself (as opposed to being external structures) yet not set up as permanent pens just because the space they'd swallow up for 3 months of the year could be put to much better use the remaining nine months of the year that breeding pens aren't required.

    That being said, I don't see anyone talking about breeding pens as temporary structures. I can't help but conclude there are good reasons for this.

    Here's my idea: Construct temporary dividers that fit into slots along the walls of one of the pens within the chicken coop, effectively dividing it up into 4 temporary breeding pens each year, which could easily be dismantled when not being used, freeing up the space for other uses. If I were to go this route, I would take the central pen within the coop (an 8' x 20' area between the permanent rooster pen and the hen pen) and divide it up into four 4' x 8' breeding pens, two on each short side, with a 4' x 8' aisle separating each pair. This, I hope, would allow me sufficient space to access the breeding pens as needed, and to use the aisle between them to get from the hen pen to the rooster pen. I'd also have this particular 8' x 20' section of the chicken coop closed off visually from the hen and rooster pens by means of doors, to keep things in harmony as much as possible. Does this idea have any merit to it, or am I just not recognizing all of the additional headaches that temporary breeding pens would cause?

    The coop would be laid out kind of like this:


    I'd very much like to get people's feedback on this idea and whether they feel it could be workable. Do the negatives outweigh the positives? What do you see the negatives as being?

    Thanks in advance for your comments and suggestions!

    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
  2. Lollipop

    Lollipop Chillin' With My Peeps

    John, if I`m reading and understanding this correctly, you will have 4 temporary pens within your coop, each containing one breeding pair. Sounds like a workable plan, but I have doubts about putting the fowl back together again, after the mating process. Roosters in particular would conflict greatly after being penned apart. Some hens would also, but not as violently. Once you seperate your roosters, they most likely will need to live apart forever, thus negating the "temporary" idea.........Pop
  3. jenjscott

    jenjscott Mosquito Beach Poultry

    May 24, 2008
    Southeast Arkansas
    Its hard to follow, exactly, most have a structure, the coop, and a pen, the outside portion. You have your entire pen setup inside a structure? There is no reason it wouldn't work. I assume you must have a mixed flock and you want pure birds. I'm not sure 12 weeks would be necessary, One month for the eggs to belong for sure to the specific rooster and then however many eggs you want to produce. Unless you are planning on the hens brooding the eggs, and that won't work because you never know when the hen will go broody. But if you are planning on an incubator, It would do fine. Why do I get the feeling there is still something here I don't understand?

    That's no fair, you added that picture after I started replying! I agree with Pop, you would have some fighting on your hands when you tried to put your roos back together.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
  4. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    How many birds are you planning on putting in your breeding pens? That's not very much space for a large fowl breeding pen. Any access to the outdoors? I also agree the roosters will have a hard time being put back....especially if they can't see each other while they're seperated.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
  5. Three Cedars Silkies

    Three Cedars Silkies Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 17, 2008
    Gainesville, Fl.
    I would echo the concern lollipop mentioned in that it might be difficult to reintegrate them. One possibility would be to leave the roos with one or more hens in a breeding pen for a day or two only, then return the hens to the hens coop and the rooster tot he rooster's coop. If only separated for a day or so, it might work.

    I love the setup and it's always nice to have a separate area for all sorts of different reasons.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2010
  6. MiniBeesKnees

    MiniBeesKnees Chillin' With My Peeps

    Not an expert but with the nice weather these last few days I worked out in my chicken coop. One of the things I did was put in four of what I call rooster jails in the four corners of the 10 x 10 foot coop. (I also installed a ceiling in it so that it is now only six feet tall...since I'm a five foot one old lady that works for me) It is my thought that I'll also use these as brooding pens later on and move the roosters out to separate bachelor quarters in the run.

    I used welded wire four feet high cut 6.5 feet long and attached it to upright studs in the coop. The enclosures are rounded and are about ten square feet plus each because some of the 'round part' is four feet of one interior wall and a foot of the other one. There is one rooster each in three of them, and a banty D'uccle and a banty Jap rooster sharing the last one...they get along just fine. I used a piece of fencing 6.5 feet long because if I take these down later they will fit exactly to make electrical conduit fence panels I make...the fencing will not have been 'wasted'. See panel information here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=284458

    used roofing nails to nail it to the studs and just bent them over...easy to remove later. I cut pieces of fencing 32" long and used that for the tops which I fastened with zip ties...then bent the two exposed corners down so they did not stick out. Each jail cell ended up being 32" from the long back wall, and four feet wide. I put a foot of straw in them, and cut a door to put food and water inside. I put a roost halfway up the sides of the cells by sticking it through the fencing and making it secure with a couple of zip ties tied to the fencing. It has been a few days and they are holding up just fine. Since they are not next to one another and do not share a common wall the roosters do not try to fight through the fencing.

    It is my plan to use these as pens to isolate any broody hens to let them hatch their chicks and stay in for a while afterwards. Then I'll take one hen and her chicks out into the run to an individual 6.5 x 4 foot A frame breeding pen that I'll make out of two fence panels with the one on the bottom I'll attach without the fencing so that it has a dirt floor. The ends can be closed with a 4 x 4 foot piece of fencing that you cut in two diagonally. I'll put a dog crate in that pen and cover half of it with a tarp. I'll put a roost in under the tarp part by just sticking it through the fencing...often I use cut branches for them.

    My biggest issue last year with the breeding pen I was using then was the chicks could get out...and the hen couldn't and this caused her no end of angst. I'm going to solve that problem by lining any enclosure with tiny chicks in it with plastic netting with small openings they can't get through. The heavy green stuff...bird netting didn't work, they got their heads stuck in it. I'm also considering nylon net from a fabric store as it can be attached to the frame with clothes pins, and is quite wide, and very cheap.

    Hope this may give you a few ideas...I too was looking for a temporary solution.
    Terry in TN
  7. MiniBeesKnees

    MiniBeesKnees Chillin' With My Peeps

    In my case I don't plan on ever reintergrating my roosters...they were separated into jail cells because three of them were fighting with one another already. I want to breed pure chicks too and figure I'll put the hen in with the rooster for him to...ah...serve his purpose, then let her free again to mix with the other hens in the coop in which the rooster cells are...the six hens seem to be ignoring them for the last few days. I'm not going to incubate, I'm hoping for broody hens to do the job. Last year I only had two hens and they both went broody. So I'm hoping.
    Terry in TN
  8. Diavolicchio

    Diavolicchio Buk Buk Buk Buh-GAWWWK

    In each of those temporary breeding pens I would have one rooster (the best of each breed) and 5 hens. Is this too many for a 32 sq ft breeding pen? I'm just going on the 4 sq ft / bird principle.

    It sounds like no matter how you slice and dice things, there's no way to get around fighting in some capacity. But it's helpful to hear from you both (Lollipop & JenJScott) the dynamic I'd be up against.

    I'm estimating a 12 week block of time, because I'd use the breeding pens in two rounds, with the hopes of getting 20 fertilized eggs/week/breed (4 eggs per hen/week.) To get the 54 to 60 eggs of each breed that I'd be after, I'm guessing I'd have to have the hens producing eggs for a full three weeks, in two blocks. With only four breeding cages and seven breeds, it would have to be done in two cycles. Also, given that I'd be using one incubator/hatcher (with the capacity for 216 eggs at a time), I would load in each week's worth of eggs at a time, staggering things by 54 eggs/week.

    My thoughts are that although I could probably add a new batch of eggs to the incubator/hatcher each week for six weeks, I would probably space things out a little bit and allow the eggs from the first block of hens to all hatch and go into the brooder, before I'd start the second cycle of hens laying. All in all, I'd probably allow a full 12 weeks: 3 weeks laying, 3 weeks hatching, 3 weeks laying, 3 weeks hatching.

    I'm just glad that I wouldn't lose an extra six weeks (3 weeks per group) having to keep the chickens isolated that are about to be bred. The roosters will always be isolated from the hens.

    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
  9. Diavolicchio

    Diavolicchio Buk Buk Buk Buh-GAWWWK

    I would have three runs for all of the chickens: A large rooster run, a large hen run, and a third run for younger pullets and cockerels. I'm just not quite sure how to allow the chickens currently in the breeding pens the ability to stretch their legs for the 3 weeks they'd be isolated. Maybe that's just an inconvenience they'll have to endure for 3 weeks.

    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
  10. MiniBeesKnees

    MiniBeesKnees Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm not sure about this but mixing eggs that all hatch at different times in an incubator...wouldn't that interfere with that period of time at the end when some eggs are due to hatch and you quit turning them...but you'd still have eggs in there that still needed to be turned? As I said...I don't plan on incubating my eggs...but I think I remember reading about it.
    Terry in TN

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