Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
If you are building a new chicken house or remodeling the one you have, you might want incorporate some of the features that I have. Our chicken house is a very old building that only had three sides left when we moved here. On the side that was missing (to the left of the picture) I built a lean-to that housed the rabbits our son had for a 4-H project. We haven’t had rabbits here for many years, but the cages are still there if we wanted to delve back into that project. They overhang the outside chicken run. The chickens would scratch through the rabbit droppings, leaving finished compost, with little odor, for us to shovel out.
The rabbits were tended from the “feed room” in the chicken house, which is what you see in the photo. Originally, this 10’x12’ shed was one room. It was built to house chickens and most likely, was used as a brooder at one time, since there is evidence of having a stovepipe through the roof, which would have been for the heater. The south side that was missing might have contained windows. Having a space for feed (which is stored in the galvanized garbage cans) within the structure keeps things from not being spread all over the farm for this activity. I keep organic whole grains in those cans, grinding enough feed mix for a few days at a time, keeping it fresh. The mix I use is 60% corn, 20% oats, and 20% wheat. The hens have access to much of our property to balance out the rest of their needs. This mix doesn’t contain enough protein for baby chicks, so I add worms to their ration.
In the photo you see one door, but there is a second one, just beside it. There are two doors because the chicken living area can be divided into two individual spaces. There is a removable panel at the bottom of the divider. Whether it is baby chicks I need to separate or a few hens that need to be by themselves, I can readily put in the divider and have two spaces. The outside run areas for those spaces are separated, also, but could be combined by keeping the gates open.
If you look closely, you’ll see that the solid wood part in the photo is nest boxes. The chickens have access from their living space to lay eggs there, and I can harvest the eggs by lifting the nest box lids in the feed room. It is nice not having to disturb the chickens to get the eggs, not to mention there are no worries of coming out with chicken poop on my shoes.
Another aspect of my chicken house that you might find interesting is the loft. I built it over the chicken living area to hold straw from my homegrown grains and grass clippings. That material can serve as bedding for the chickens, put down over the droppings as necessary. The chickens can eat the grass clippings and any clover they contain is an added benefit. The grass clippings also provide material for nice soft nests. Store them as dry hay, not wet clippings. I keep a long-handled garden cultivator with a small cultivating head in the chicken house. It comes in handy to mix the droppings under the roost into the bedding and to rake whatever is stored in the loft to within reach. I use an old wooden five foot ladder to reach the loft.
You can find more information on these chicken house tips at Homeplace Earth. If you already have a chicken house, take a look with your eyes and mind open. You can probably come up with some pretty good ideas on your own about how to use the space.
Learn more about Cindy Conner and what she’s up to at www.HomeplaceEarth.wordpress.com.