Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chicken Coop Days

Today we will build a chicken coop. It will probably take the whole weekend, seeing that Mark has to work this morning, Saturday. I'm looking forward to the actual work beginning on it.
Saturday, April 17th, the actual work began.

It was a very exciting day for me, seeing Mark, his dad and his friends building a coop for my chickens.  He went all out, new lumber, brand new screen door and a window.  He put a white plastic (not correct word) roof on it to let light in.  This makes it get very warm in the coop and he closed it up pretty tight too. 
The front.
Back view of the little window.
the white roof
So I would like to cut out the top section of the back and a section of the front and cover it with chicken wire and screen.  Then I would like to use the cut out peices to make a flap which closes either up or down to keep open unless the weather is really bad.  I still have to talk my husband into doing that as it goes against everything chicken in him.  Bottom line is that at 65 degrees outside the inside of the coop with screen door open and little window open was 80 degrees.  It is still early enough in the spring and the birds are only three weeks old so I'm thinking I still have some time to get this modified.

I had noticed a week ago that some of my chickens had blue legs, but nothing appears to be wrong with them otherwise.  The first time I noticed this my thought was that maybe it's a symptom of some chicken sickness, lol, but it isn't.  What it is, is that these are not purebred.  There is another breed still lingering and evidence is showing in the leg color.
White Plymouth Rocks have yellow legs.  Some of the chicks have blue patches on there legs but this one is nearly completely blue.  I checked pictures of other breeds and the only white chicken I found with a grayish blue leg is the White Orpington.  A novice or someone not up on the different breeds might think they are the same kind of chicken, afterall they are both white.  Some people categorize chickens like this, white chickens, brown chickens, black, spotted, old fashioned looking multicolored, small, funny looking, or tiny chickens.  Others may categorize them by meat chickens, egg chickens, -do you really eat brown chickens? I thought you would only eat the white ones? etc.,  You may even think that brown chickens lay brown eggs and white chickens lay white eggs.  My dad thinks that you have to keep a rooster to have good eggs.  Funny stuff we people think.  Anyway, back to the blue legged chicken in my coop, the White Orpington is also a large white chicken, lays lots of eggs and tastes good too.  It does look different from a White Plymouth Rock though, if you pay attention.  I will purchase the chicken standard and have a good look at the differences.  Maybe I'll find a different chicken in there with blue legs so I'll talk more about that after I research more.

The day I decided to move the chickens was not a day too soon.  I was busy getting the coop prepared for them.  First I had to haul all the tools out of there.  Then I had to arrange my stuff.  I have two galvanized garbage pails to hold feed and stuff I don't want them getting into.  I had to screw a nail to hang the feeder on and find a concrete block to set the waterer on.  Next I spread a bail and a half of shavings over the floor and filled and hung the feeder.  I filled the waterer and placed it in there.  I was nervous about the waterer.  It is the kind that has a removable lid with a plug for keeping water in when you have to add new.  I didn't trust it but decided to go with it and just watch what it does.  When I was done, the place smelled like fresh wood and not a bit chickeny.  Fortunately that would change.  Anyway, everytime I went back to the house chickens were running loose.  I would catch them and put them back only for two or more to fly out.  Finally I decided to just let them be and hurry up to get the coop ready.

Chloe helped me move the chickens.  We were both excited.  I had a box to put a few chickens in at a time and Chloe held the flaps closed while I caught chickens.  We only put four in at a time so this was a great time to count them.  We discovered one extra of the White Plymouth Rocks.  Cool.

Here are some pictures I took of them after we got them all moved.
Checking it out.
Trying out the new roost.
The new hanging feeder was awesome.  Once they were all in there I adjusted it to the right height for them.  I can adjust it weekly as they grow.  They still jump inside but I've fixed that problem now.

The waterer was a little high for the smaller ones but the block sticks out a little for them to stand on.  Otherwise this is working perfectly for them as it stays much cleaner.
There's Chloe, in her ballet skirt.

Doing the chicken dance.
I used the old feeder bottom, which they broke, for grit.  Here's one sitting in it.  It is familiar to them in a brand new environment.

Curious about my boots.

Unfortunately the new waterer was leaking.  Fortunately I had bought two of them.  So I traded them and the second new one doesn't leak.  After they had settled in I brought in the litter from the brooder and mixed it in with the new litter.  They seemed to like that as it's smell was much more familiar than the brand new stuff.  The old litter was completey dry as I had expected it to be.  It does amaze me anyway, that's why I'm writing it in here.  That night after work, Mark made a little door in the side of the coop with a sliding closer.  We also put up the electronet fence.  It was really easy to set up.  The ground around the coop was uneven from the building process.  We stood there looking at the fence all set up when who should come walking through the yard, George, our cat.  The fence was completely blocking his rythem as it went right over his usual path.  He was perturbed and stumped.  I told Mark that we get to see right away what will happen.  We had plugged the fence in to make sure it was working correctly.  George walked up to it and touched it with his nose but didn't get a shock.  He moved down the fence toward the coop where the ground was uneven and slipped underneath it.  "Ok,"  I said, "that works well."  He crossed the little yard and slipped out under the otherside.  Mark picked him up and touched his nose to the fence long enough for him to get a shock.  He didn't like it at all.  I actually didn't see him again until late the next morning.  He was hungry.

I opened the little door to let the chickens out in the afternoon on Wednesday, 21st.
They were really curious to say the least, but not enough to venture out.

It just took one to get it started.

Very curious.

Hanging out on the ramp.

Finally I kicked them all out.  They pretty much just stayed right around the ramp.  A few of them tried to get out through the fence.  It was a busy time for me running back and forth all 160 feet of electric fence to pick them up.  They decided they weren't too thrilled by the zap zap of the electric fence and pretty much stay away from the fence now.  Because I had kicked them out by picking them up and throwing them out the door, they really didn't get how to get back in.  I ended up catching them and putting them in.  A few of them had figured it out for themselves.  I won't do that again.  I will, and I promise, let nature do it's thing.  We realized that the ramp was too slippery so we put a different rougher board on top of the 2 x 8.  They don't slip on it and run up and down it like crazy.  For 2 weeks I've been opening the door in the mornings and closing it at dusk.  They pile out immediately when I open it.  All day the run in and out in spurts.  Everybody out, everybody in.  It is cute to watch.  They don't seem to care whether it's raining or sunny, warm or cold.  At first they stayed close to the door but gradually over the two weeks they have wandered further and further.  I still turn the heat lamp on at night for them.

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