Trying it out for size

Another year starts and another project begins! Looking back at last year’s blog entries and thinking back to previous Januarys, this time of year always seems to herald the start of a new project. Last year it was building log stores and preparing for pigs, and 2010 had us putting up fencing for the arrival of our first animals – chickens. And the start of 2012 is no different with us preparing for more chickens, which will boost our depleted numbers.

I have read that when you are bringing new chickens into an existing flock, best practice is to keep them separated for a few weeks so that any diseases that the new chickens may have will hopefully manifest themselves in this time. It also helps them to settle in better, rather than just being flung in to get on with it. We didn’t do this when we introduced Coffee and Cream, but we probably should have done – there’s still a lot to learn. So we’ve decided to build a new hen house for this purpose. It will also be useful to have a spare hen house if we get any sickly chickens, or if we ever decide to let one of our chickens go broody and hatch out some eggs.

Always on the lookout for ways to keep costs down (hen houses are pretty expensive now that hen keeping is all the rage), we looked around to see what we could utilise to make a suitable house. We’ve got some wooden crates left over from our roofing work – a perfect starting point for the main frame of the house. We’re not going to need a house too big, as it is only for temporary accommodation, so these crates are about the right size. A few bits of wood were removed to make way for a door, and the rest of the crate was fitted with board to keep out the wind and rain. The roof was made from a pallet and topped with some laminated board and plastic sheeting we had (this can be lifted off to gain access for cleaning etc.). The door was made from a bit of weatherboard we had left over from the pig house, which also acts as a ramp to allow the hens to leave the house. Finally a perch was added, made from a branch taken from the hedge. We’ll add a nest box in one corner nearer the time. Otherwise it’s ready for some new occupants – watch this space!

Hen House (minus roof)

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