Friday, November 22, 2013

New Coop

As I stated in my previous post, I got the girls a bigger coop for their birthday this year.  This is the coop I should have bought in the first place.  I was naive when I started this and when I saw that the coop held 3-5 hens, I thought it meant it would hold 5 hens.  But what they really meant, was 3 full sized birds or 5 bantams.  So my cute little coop w/ the red roof was always a squeeze for them.

Being in California, they only went in to lay eggs and sleep.  I never put their food or water inside as it was never necessary.  And it has 3 nests which was nice.  So it kind of worked.

Where I ran into trouble was integrating new hens.  The girls want to sleep next to certain buddies.  And there was really only one arrangement that worked.  Now, would they go in and take their respective positions?  No!  They'd quibble and peck and argue at bedtime.  Which upset the new birds and also upset me.

I tried a few other cheaper coops but they just didn't work.  So I finally just ordered up the larger Amish built coop.  What kept me from doing this all along was the fact that I had to have it flat pack shipped and then assembled inside my run.  Because it wouldn't fit through my gate or into their run.

But as you can see, it really isn't a big deal having it arrive flat.  The guys unloaded the truck in no time and got to work assembling the coop in place.

Here they have most of the coop assembled.  The nests and roof are still missing.

I didn't have any place to put the hens while their run was wide open.  And the guys kept going in and out the back gate.  I was worried about a dog coming in and the hens getting out so I hung out with them in their favorite corner of the garden.

Here the guys have JUST finished and I let the girls back into the run.  Honey and Poppy are by far my most curious hens and were first to hop up inside for a closer look.

New coop on the left and the old coop on the right.  I couldn't bring myself to part with the old coop.  It's just so cute with that red roof.  I thought I'd use it as a maternity ward when the time comes.  Turns out that Honey likes laying her eggs in there so I leave it open for them.

Here's the inside of the new coop.  I added a third roost mostly to make it easier for the hens to step up to roost at night.  I also installed some dowels and created a sort of "poop hammock" to catch their droppings.  The concept is great.  But one morning I could hear Honey calling.  She only calls when there's a problem.  And when I went outside, she had slipped between the two roost bars and was standing in the hammock with no way to get out.  So that was the end of the hammock.

I'm now trying the deep litter method.  Where you keep adding more pine shavings and leaves and mixing up the droppings and they sort of compost inside the coop.  It sounds disgusting.  But people have been doing it for many, many years very successfully.  And the decomposition process can keep the coop a few degrees warmer in winter.  It sure is easy.  And will be nice to have the droppings all ready to go into the garden come spring.  We'll see.  I promise to blog more about the deep litter method  once I have more data.