Wednesday 14 November 2012
Winter Coop Renovation
You might think that I know exactly when our chicks were hatched and when they should reach maturity.
But I do not.
You might think that I am well prepared with ample chicken housing and nesting boxes.
Well, not really.
To be honest, it was only the other day that I felt a twinge of anxiety as a I realized that our new birds would likely be laying soon.
There was a plan to have a whole new layer coop built by now,
but my ambitions outstrip my actions most days of the week.
Sure, I could put another building up without much hassle,
but only after having completed the other projects first.
So I need to work with what I have.
There is lots of room, but changes are in order to make it work.
Our old layers were in the barn last Winter, but that was temporary.
Since there is no new building, the old layers will stay put.
But I would like the new birds to stay within the new fenced compound and until today,
there was nowhere for them to lay their eggs once they matured.
There is an addition on the main coop now.
It gave our young birds a safe outdoor space.
For the Winter, the addition offers some cover.
A place for the birds to dust bathe and sun where there is no snow.
They will still go outside into the snow, but at least they will have some dry ground for hanging out on.
The plan is to keep forty birds in the main coop.
Five or six roosters and the remaining hens.
That's too many birds all day long, but it's fine if they're out during the day and only roosting indoors at night.
I've added more roosting space and there are twelve nesting boxes in there.
(Despite what you might have read concerning the number of nests per bird,
the fact is that they often need to lay all at the same time, so the more nesting space the better.)
The building was heated with propane.
We are no longer buying propane other than for the handheld torches.
I've left the furnace intact in case I have a change of heart,
but I hope to keep the heat to a minimum.
Our layers had no heat last year and did just fine without.
The Gold-Laced Wyandottes are cold hardy birds.
This year I will have a heat lamp in place for really cold nights and possibly a water heater to keep the drinking water from freezing.
The water is the single most difficult chore in the Winter, and was the main reason for relocating the birds last year.
If I can keep the water ice-free, then it doesn't need to be replaced twice a day.
As far as too many birds for the space available,
there is always an easy solution to that.
If I decide that there are too many,
the extra birds are always welcome to the dinner table.