Sunday, August 26, 2012

Coop modification

Having chickens has really challenged my "handy-man" skills.  Of which I have very little.  Not to mention arthritis in my right hand and a lack of power tools, well, you see where this is going.

So when it came time to get chickens, building a coop was simply out of the question.  Thankfully, there are PLENTY of kits and pre-built coops to choose from.  But sometimes, they require a little modification to make them work just right.

I would give anything to go back and do this all over again because I'd buy the same coop I first bought, only the next size bigger.  These Amish built coops are REALLY well built.  And for the money, they are a great value.  But you put in one Jersey Giant and two HUGE Buff Orpingtons and suddenly, there's no more room at the inn.

My Amish built coop.  Big enough for 3-5 hens but I wish I had gone bigger.  I could have built out a separation pen inside.
Out of desperation, I bought a temporary coop for the Bunkies which solved my issues at the time.  But the one problem I continued to have was not having a place to separate babies or a bullied hen.  So I recently bought one of these Handcrafted Coop kits and put it together.  And I like it for my environment.  It's also on the small size and I wouldn't trust it in the snow or a really cold environment. There's no room inside to put food or water.  But as a nursery for a mama and babies, it's perfect!

But Honey wouldn't go in it.  If I opened up the big side door used for clean out, she'd hop right up inside.  So I knew she didn't hate it.  I finally came to the conclusion that the ramp was too steep and the foot bars not big enough for her.

So off to the local lumber yard.  And thank goodness we still have one of those old fashioned places that will offer advice AND cut the lumber for you.  When I told the guy what I wanted to do, he asked what kind of chickens I had.  And when I told him Buff Orpingtons, the guy in line behind me piped up that he too had BO's.  Small world.

Honey Bear coming down her new ramp.  It's much wider and more stable and she has no trouble with this one.
So here are my handy skills at work.  And I must say, I'm quite pleased with myself.  The ramp is no where near as steep as her old one and those foot bars give her something to step on as she goes up or down.  Using meal worms, I got her to go up it several times with no issue at all.  But when I went out last night at bedtime, she once again had decided to bunk in the big girls house.

I do think it takes them three times to learn something new so I plan on going out there again tonight and tomorrow to encourage her up her new ramp.

Here's a side shot of the old ramp on the bottom and the new ramp on top.  You can see how the angle is much more gentle for her to get up and how much bigger those foot bars are.

Side view showing the old ramp and the new one on top.  I can't pull it shut like this but since it's inside my predator proof run, it's not necessary to close them in.
And one shot of the babies who are growing up SOOOOO quickly!  I believe most hatcheries hatch their chicks on Monday's so they can ship them out in time for their arrival before the weekend.  And if that's the case, then she'll be four weeks old tomorrow.

Her wing and tails feathers are coming in nicely but her head and breast are still covered with down.  Giving her that awkward teenager look.  Which I happen to think is adorable.

A full tummy makes just about anyone sleepy.
My only disappointment with having a mama raise babies, is that they imprint on her and not on me.  They are scared of me and won't come near me unless mama is there.  I did get one to eat out of my hand today which was a first but they are super leery to do so.  I'm afraid I've missed my window of holding and hand feeding them to get them used to me.

Oh well, I suppose there are worse things.  I still have my Buff Orpingtons who love to cuddle in my lap.


  1. It could be their breeds.

    My broody raised chicks are just as friendly (if not more so) then my hand raised chicks :)

    Give them time. Treats help ;) I use zucchini to get them to love me.

  2. Thanks Justine. It could very well be the breed. They are Blue Andalusians which are not known for being lap chickens. So we'll just take our time and see how it goes.

  3. Love your blog and all of the tips and tricks on chicken-raising that I've not found in the books that I've read!
    We are still working on our coop and run (when I say "we" I mean "my husband"). I've been trying to decide whether we'll start out with chicks or older birds so I hope that if we do start with pullets, we can still bribe them to love us.