Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cheap & Easy Poultry Pens & Nest Boxes

 This is Chicken Alley,my row of chicken housing in the back-yard.We live on 2 1/2 acres, and the poultry pens are at the very back property line. There are no neighbors near these pens, and they are not easily visible from the house, but very practical and cheap.
 For many reasons we have found dog kennels ideal for our poultry. Most of these kennels were acquired free or cheaply from people wanting to get rid of them. The kennels protect our poultry from predators such as dogs, coyotes, cats, raccoons, hawks & eagles, owls, and others. The kennels need to have small hard wire or netting wrapped & secured all around and over the top before the roof is put on. I have lost too many chickens, turkeys, and ducks to raccoons reaching through the kennel to pluck the flesh off the birds at night as they roosted. Basically, my chickens were eaten alive while I slept unaware of the horror going on in my poultry pens. The coons are quick to take advantage of any opportunity to eat chicken, so I make sure my poultry is not within reach of the cunning raccoons by putting everything poultry would perch on out of their reach.

Nest boxes for my chickens are kitty litter boxes. I get a lot of them from garage sales and also when they are on sale. They are not as pretty as the ideal nest boxes, but these are practical, easy to maintain & clean, and the hens love the feel of seclusion the covered litter boxes offer. Here are 2 of my Silkie hens incubating a clutch of bantam frizzled Cochin eggs, due to hatch soon.
Another practical feature of using dog kennels vs. buildings is that kennels can be dis-assembled and moved. A good idea for anyone renting, or not sure where they might want a poultry house. The kennels are easy to clean out too. The roof is galvanized tin nailed to a frame made of 2 X 4's , also making the roof easy to move .
One of my 3 resident Labrador retrievers. She, her sister, and her mother are another reason we keep our poultry confined. I have lost many chickens to my own dogs. Seems I am lacking some sense in that I raise chickens, ducks, and BIRD dogs!But you can make it all work with some thought about how you will house your chickens. 

My husband & I do have a chicken house we use as the nursery for mama poultry and broody hens. We might build another one someday, but I find after more than a decade of raising chickens the kennels have worked the best for us over all.I have lights inside these pens and the chickens do not seem to mind the cold temps if they have a dry place to live. I get eggs all year round from my chickens too. The best part of having these pens in the back-yard, besides the fresh eggs, is the pleasure the chickens give me. Every day I take some time to pull up a lawn chair, and sip a cup of coffee or tea as I watch the chickens.This is a pleasure I think everyone should at least try once. Clucking hens, playing chicks, proud roosters, they all make my heart happy.

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