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Domestic Chickens

Chicken Feed +(earthworms, Beneficial Insects)

More information on sustainable urban homesteading. +

Mites and flees don't like juniper wood. Roosting bars.

My birds, their coup and run:  We get an average of 5, full sized eggs a day except when they molt, or go "broody". Feed costs about $8 per month but we are starting to reduce that. They make better compost than any pile and because they live on a slope and I drop in all the yard waste and dead leaves at the top, there is NO smell.


The run and coup as seen from the back porch.

Side view of the coup, showing the plywood wheels and how it simply buts up against the run

The front wheels are just painted plywood (pre cut from Home Depot) on a conduit pipe axel. End-caps keep the wheels on. I spaced the two wheels apart a bit with scrap wood to keep them from wobbleing. Also, the pipe is only as wide as the coup itself, then a female to female coupleing is used next to the inside of the wheel with a short extension through the wheel center and the end cap on the outside.

The rear wheel of the coup is a swivel. One adult can "easily" push the coup around.

View into the coup from the "working end." The chicken wire is not visable from the house. We made use of available resources, including the tree. Notice how the ground slopes up to the back wall; this was wasted space anyway.

The gate and retaining wall which forms the back of the run.

I've added a pully, weight (old paint can), and rope "door closer" so that it always shuts... even when the kids forget. And two latches (top and middle) so that it always catchs. Chickens are escape artists in case you didn't know.

Front door of the coup, locked up for the night. The extra length on the sides makes for a gental ramp when the door is opened

High speed morning exit!

Looking in the coup, you can see the wire screen area which is just under the roosting pole. This helps to keep the pooping while roosting out of the coup. On really cold nights, we close that space off.

Passing through the girl's front door and up into the coup, we can see the nesting boxes in the back. They only use the bottom center one. They all lay their eggs together.

The girls hard at work scratching and turning the leaves, etc that we shovel in from the top rear. (needs more) notice the buildup of compost already starting at the bottom. This migrates down into a garden bed just in front of the run. That compost has NO (none, nada, zip, zot,) smell of chicken poop.

 

And this is why we do it! Looking down into the back of the coup after lifting the lid and moveing one of the upper nesting boxes forward.

One of the girls come to see what I'm about. They actually seem to want to roost the other way, with their tail feathers sticking out the direction "Angel" is looking. (We named one "Buffy" so of course there had to be an "Angel")

The covered section is actually just a tarp over some old lattice we had.

0125.JPG View down from the top of the flat over the run. Shows the screening and how it can be pushed back to dump in leaves, etc...

All the pictures

James Newton Says:

I need to find a way to make more bugs and other sources of good protean for "my girls" (chickens). We seem to keep killing our worms and need to find a way to regulate the temperature and moisture in the worm bins. Another idea is to make a habitate for spiders inside the chicken run so that they can feed on the (few) flys that breed in the compost bin and when overpopulated, become chicken food on the long trek out to find a new home.

My concern with the spiders is to make darn sure we are attracting the correct types. Black widows are a constant problem around here. I can't seem to find anything about any difference in habitate between standard garden spiders and the black widows. Any ideas? Or other bugs that can be grown without a lot of smell? Snails and slugs would be great, but I don't seem to be able to grow them either. (funny, I sure could grow them when we didn't want them... but after we got the girls, there isn't a one to be found.)

Anyone with kids should be aware that the bugs that come with chickens will attract Black Widow's in the areas the chickens are allowed to range. The birds will eat all benificial spiders and the widows will move in behind them and not be eaten. Birds aren't that dumb! I hope the development of a spider safe house inside or around the run will cut down on that.

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James Newton Says:

We blew it: We forgot to close up the roost one night and went up to a neighbors. When we came back, the girls were scattered all about, one was very seriously injured and our little flyer, Amelia, was dead.

Don't forget or automate it. They MUST be protected at night.

P.S. The injured bird was taken to the vet and $400 later, she is healing nicely and still laying eggs! It was our choice to try to save her, and not an economical move at all. For us, it isn't so much about money as it is about controlling our food source. And we love our girls as well!

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See also:

James Newton Says:

Maria figured out how to do the earthworms! They have tripled in population in the last few months, and as we continue to fine tune this, includeing growing worms in the rabbit poop, we will have more to feed the girls. Now I just need to convince Maria to write up how she did it...
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See:


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