Sunday, December 10, 2006

hen house

Gina asked a few questions about the hen house the other day...I told her I would try and take a few pictures, so here they are.

We generally use old fashion methods to keep the chickens. No artificial heat, no lights on. However, we do use a water heater to keep the drinking water warm. The Mr. built the hen house on the south side of the hill, along the slope of the hillside, so that it would block any north winds. He insulated the building, and he used lots of large windows, including a full light door. The house is narrow, but long. We hang tarp in the winter to protect an area from becoming snow covered. This way, the hens can still go outside everyday.

The inside of henhouse is difficult to photograph from the front. The nestboxes hang on the wall, with a ladder on the opposite side leading to the roosting boards located on the back and over top of the nesting boxes. The feed trough is located underneath the nesting boxes, this keeps it free from droppings. There are two water tanks that are place under shelves for the same reason.

We use a deep litter method that helps to keep the coop warm in winter. The chickens are free range during the day, so they spend most of their time outdoors...coming inside to lay or eat or sleep. Once a week (ideally) we change out the roosting board that holds most of the droppings.

When one board gets dirty, it is taken down and scraped into a large galvanized basin which is then taken far from the hen house and dumped to be composted. The board is left out in the sun and rain during the week. When we switch it out, we re-hang it and spread a little lime and hay on top and it is good to go...

So, where are all the chickie doodles?

They are out preening and enjoying this balmy afternoon!

13 comments:

vanessa said...

your hens look so pleased with themselves :-)

Spinner Gal said...

What a neat coop! Your chickies look very happy.

Gina said...

Thanks for the look! Now I finally understand what a droppings board looks like; never seen one before! Nice idea... our chickens are jealous.

meresy_g said...

What a lovely hen house! Do you find that the tarp gives a little greenhouse action and warms up that space some? I'm thinking of draping some clear plastic over three sides of the chicken yard to cut down on the wind and hoping it stays a little warmer that way.

Anonymous said...

Am a bit surprised that your perches are so high up! We were told that they shouldn't be much higher than a foot off the ground so the hens don't injure themselves jumping up and down...

cyndy said...

Those chickens are always pleased that we slave away for their comfort!

Gina- You are welcome~ I forgot to mention that we do "stir the litter" every couple of days..it is a good idea to keep an eye on it~ main idea is not to let it get wet at all.

Meredith- The tarp does give a litte green house action, on the deck side around the corner. The chickens only use that deck when there is snow on the ground...we fill a sandbox for them and they take their dust baths out there!

Jessica- You are right about the perches being close to the ground, they should be- but what you cannot see from the photo is the ladder/ramp behind the nestboxes. The chickens get up and down to the nestboxes and roosting board from that ramp easily. The one problem I would have is if I allowed a broody hen to hatch her chicks from the nest box...I would be afraid one would fall out!

Anonymous said...

Looks like there's a little chicken hole in the bottom of the door. How do you keep out varmints?

Brigid said...

It looks very warm and cosy in there for the ladies. Thanks for the fascinating look behind the scenes!

cyndy said...

Ernest- The hen house is enclosed within a "chicken run" or "chicken yard" if you will. There are gates at either end and there is also chicken wire overhead to give the girls some protection if the hawks and eagles come to hunt...
We open the big gates in the morning and close them after the girls are in for the night. The little door stays open unless the temps. drop below zero. The only varmints that get in during the day are brave chipmunks (oh, and once I found a opposum in there)

Anonymous said...

I do appreciate the difficulty of taking photos in small spaces, but would it be possible to try to take a photo showing the ladder bit? I am having difficulty visualising it! :)

Judith said...

The hens look as if they are wearing their winter feathers. They are lovely! You have a well run hen house, for sure. How many years have you kept chickens? And did you as a child as well? How many chicken hours a week would you estimate you put in?

cyndy said...

humm...seems I should do the hen house part 2 to answer a few more questions, and post a few more pictures...

Sarah said...

What a nicely organized coop, and such happy looking hens!

(I have such a soft spot for chickens :) )

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