Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Chickaterium, phase one

The very first building we ever built out here on the farm was a chicken coop. It is now a generic garden building. It wasn't a bad design, actually, but it was in the wrong place in the long term to keep chickens. We had a portable coop for awhile and that was pretty cool -- except when wind would knock it over. We had one as small as the portable one but it was fixed with only a 4 ft high fixed fence and the dozen hens always stayed in anyway. They egged up my Brewer Diet all through one pregnancy. We've had 'em roost in trees for months at a time.

The coop we have now we call the Chicken Taj Mahal. But it is a grown-up coop and we needed something for the growing ones. We've been through, oh, must be about a thousand ideas, must have drawn out 100 of them. And it kept getting put off.

But ideas grow and incubate too. Eventually we hit on something that rang the bells, lit the lightbulb, made you know this was a GOOD idea -- have panels that are interchangeable, portable, re-arrange-able. Put the rabbit cages on top, roofing (removeable) on top of that. We could vary the size according to how many chickens are in a batch and how big they are by using more panels or fewer panels. It is way more than cheap.
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So, to try to describe this, each panel is (I think) 33" X 33", constructed from old 2X4 we had around, sawed in half lengthways. Phase 2 will be constructed of old rough cut lumber we have, milled by us to our requirements. We paint the wood with copper napthanate preservative. The wire is woven 1X3 (I think) wire. If we put really small chicks in there sometime, we will add a removable layer of mesh fencing around. The panels are attached to each other with bolts and wing nuts through drilled holes.

In the bottom there are 11 10 week old chicks. Those are rabbit cages on top but they have chicks in there now, those are about 25 6 week old chicks, awaiting a Chickaterium of their own. We have one more batch of chicks to take care of (2 weeks old). Then we're also planning on using the chickateriums as places to fatten culled older hens and roosters (and to make sure we culled out the correct, non-laying, hens). And who knows what other uses we'll find for them. We can move them or reconfigure them at any time. It's just totally cool.


madcapmum said...

I've read about "chicken tractors"; is this one in the flesh?

the Contrary Goddess said...

nope, that isn't a tractor, although I suppose it could be used for one. We had extra roosters one time and made tractors for them in the garden -- they were just a frame on the bottom with wire hooped (yes, a verb!) over. Although this would be sturdier and as moveable. Hmmm, thinking of your situation madcap, you could even build a small portable coop to go in there.

It turns out for us, 7 panels is as big as we can go if we put rabbit cages on top just because of the way the rabbit cages are configured, but we'd originally planned for 10 panel runs because a sheet of metal roofing covers that nicely. The mid panels can be wired or not which allows you to adjust the size inside the run.

I can visualize your postage-stamp chicken farm now madcap!

farmgirl said...

Neat idea. We're always trying to come up with new ideas for chicken houses. I just hopped over here from the comment you left on my blog, Farmgirl Fare. Wow, looks like you sure have a lot going on over there! : )

farmgirl said...

P.S. I posted a photo of one of our henhouses the other day, and someone commented that somebody they knew with chickens called their henhouse The Cluck Majal. . .

the Contrary Goddess said...

I should have included perhaps the most used name we have for our henhouse, the Taj MaChicken. And this is a very eclectic blog I suppose. I hope it is all unified by "life on the farm" which is what, I say, allows such meanderings of mind and spirit.

Nice to make your aquaintance.

farmgirl said...

Nice to make yours, too. And I like Taj MaChicken! : )