We have the most amazing chicken coop ever! It is a 2 car garage with an attic for storage. We divided it in 2 so we could raise chicks and the turkeys on one side and have the other side with full access to outside. In both we built roosts for the chickens to sleep at night on. It is the coolest chicken roost, fitting all 104 chickens and roosters as snug or as spacious as they prefer. The roost could actually comfortable fit closer to 200 hens, but don’t let my husband hear me talking like that ;)
We are south of Forest Grove and right off of B Street and Hwy 47, we have some pretty brazen coyotes. They come right into the buffalo barn sometimes. Oh yea, I didn’t mention the buffalo. Check out www.LBarTBisonRanch.com . This is my family’s farm. My husband, Tom, grew up raising buffalo and we still do. They have a gift shop where you can buy every cut of buffalo you can get from beef. We sell our eggs year round at the gift shop. Back to the coyotes…
We knew we’d need to protect the chickens from coyotes and even feral cats. (I will be posting a plea for people to not abandon their dogs and cats in the countryside sometime in the future as well.) Sitting chickens make easy meals for hungry wild animals. So the hens are completely fenced into their yard. We do let them out to wander the entire farm and to “mow the grass” when we are out there. This fall we found cracking a pumpkin open in the pen worked well to get the hens to come back in from roaming, if only we had pumpkins year round, it’d never be a problem.
The coop has electricity so we can regulate lighting inside. This is great for the laying hens as they will lay more in the winter time. It’s also great for me because I don’t have to collect eggs in complete darkness. Without 16 hours of daylight we can go a full month without 1 egg. We were down to getting only 1 or 2 a day during the darkest days, but someone was always trying.
We like to allow the girls to go broody and with the second pen, we may be able to let a few of the hens actually set a clutch this year. You have to be careful as hens get jealous of each other and steal chicks. Also the roosters become aggressive towards the chicks so you have to keep them away from them. With the second pen, these hens and their chicks would be safe.
Many small chicken farmers can relate to the countless hours spent chucking poo out of their coop. Trust me I have done this over and over again, for YEARS!!! But we don’t do that anymore. The Shoppe has 2 garage doors we swing up and we just drive the smallest tractor we have right in. My husband on the loader and me with a pitchfork can clean the coop out in ½ hour tops. The most labor intensive part is getting behind the roost to throw all that poo forward. However, we use bark mulch so the carbon to nitrogen ratio is fairly perfect for active composting in the coop. We brought in a lot more shavings than I thought necessary to begin with, but it turned out to breakdown over the course of 3 months so there were no recognizable bark pieces left. A local landscaper/pruner brings loads of mulch for the farm, win-win as he gets rid of it and we get to use it. We plan on using this compost for our garden this year. It broke down really well so there isn’t really that much of it, but a little dab will do ya. The circle of life starts with the poo and never ends.
We are working on several ideas including growing veggies for our family and the Forest Grove Farmer’s Market. I’ll let you know when we get that up and running as well.
Thanks for checking in on the chickens,