Topic: Harvest Hills Farm activity
Fresh Eggs Anyone???
My husband wants to raise chickens for eggs. He's really obsessed by the idea. And, while I LOVE fresh chicken eggs (that I can readily purchase in our farm “neighborhood”) when I think of chickens—I usually think of Salmonella, mites, bird droppings and all sorts of obnoxious bird behavior...
However, I DO agree with Mike when it comes to wanting to actualize your dreams. And his current dream is to have his own laying hens. You or your spouse may also have this whimsical idea about keeping hens for fresh eggs. It's legally possible to keep hens in urban and suburban environments as well as “the country” so it's not really far-fetched.
So, I have spent a lot of hours researching how to raise hens for eggs with the maximum sanitary considerations while still “keeping it natural” as far as the birds are concerned. The big problems concerning sanitation and health involve wood rot in wooden structures, general handling of bird droppings, hen house ventilation, bird “psychology” in how you plan for their needs so that there's no competitiveness, and how to get hens to lay eggs where/when they're supposed to.
I think it can be done. It starts with a sanitary, secure hen house or “chicken coop.” Then you will need an indoor nesting area (where we want hens to lay their eggs) and an indoor “roost” (where they sleep safely away from nocturnal predators). Hens also need natural light and ventilation, but protection from the harsh cold we have in northern climates.
I found a structure that seems to fit the bill for a hen house. It's rot-resistant because it's made from plastic resin. It's got natural light from built-in sky lights in the roof and two windows on the doors, It's got ventilation through vents at the gables. It's tall enough to walk into and big enough to hold up to 12 hens by my calculation (though we are planning for six.)
So I am posting the BEGINNING of our project today because you may want to take advantage of a sale going on at Menards now—if I wait to post until I have everything actually done—you will miss the best pricing!
We are building our hen house from the Rubbermaid 7ft x 7 ft weather-resistant resin “storage building” which is now on sale at Menards for $599.00. Their SKU is 193-2645.
While I will give you all the details and rationales in a later post—here's where we stand today:
The area next to the wood shed was selected because we thought the extra structure would mitigate the winter winds.
We built a foundation with varying heights of wood to accommodate the sloping ground.
We placed plywood over the foundation to have a more solid floor under the Rubbermaid floor (necessary for our sloped terrain, may not be needed if your ground in perfectly flat.)
We started to build the structure, securing the floor to the subfloor and foundation.
Obviously, the structure isn't done yet, and we may need to shim a corner once we see how it's settled with the roof on.
I ALSO purchased other materials for the construction of the nesting boxes and the handling of droppings from under the dowel rod roost. Here's a photo of items that I actually bought at Walmart for about $40. total.
Since I am planning for 6 hens, I will need at least 1 nesting box for every 3 hens and 1 dowel rod to go between the two sides of the shed, about 2 ft off the ground. If you want to go for more hens, then you will need 2 dowels placed 18 inches apart but at the same height!
We purchased the Storage shed-turned-chicken coop listed above and started construction—limited by rain and other work duties, we are at a standstill until next week. I'll update you then! I will also tell you how to turn the storage drawers into nesting boxes that you can retrieve eggs from behind and where to place them in your coop.
Think about it...do you have a spouse that really, really, really wants his/her own hens too? If so, start building!