Is just the sleeping and egging bit the coop, or is the run the coop, or is the run the run? Oh questions! Well anyway, this is a post about Hamilton’s Hens’ Home.
When we had to move the chicken’s home due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to reduce its size to a bit of an L shape made of five squares. We had no other way of fitting the pieces together to make it square. Since the avian flu prevention zone has been in place the hens have made me feel terribly guilty so I wanted to work out how to make them some more space in their home. This is the previous layout and my start at digging the ground over to extend it.
I managed to keep the hens enclosed in the house in the corner while I was undoing nuts and bolts and lifting panels in the slippery mud. The things we do for our hens!
I managed myself to secure the hens from all sides and tarpaulin the roof but I needed some help with making the panels fit. I had previously given some paving slabs to someone on freecycle and his email address said blacksmith. Thinking this would be someone who could help with metal work I got in touch and Andy was so helpful. He drilled the panels and we managed to fix up the new area without having to do any cutting or welding which was great. Technically it is 20% more space but it has made a huge difference in the overall space. I have given the hens a straw bale in the new corner which I picked up for a few pounds. They love the bale as something to hop up onto and scratch away at and it gives them a view of their garden which they miss. A straw bale is a very good value item indeed, I recommend it for hentertainment. Here is Miss Belina showing how it is done.
Having completed the run extension, this weekend has seen some further improvements inside. The sun was shining despite the freezing cold, then hens looked particularly photogenic with their straw bale, especially my poser IG-88, isn’t she beautiful?
I have tried various things on the floor of my run, but I came across Safer Surfacing and their recycled tyre rubber chips. These are supposed to be more hygienic as they dry more quickly and don’t hold moisture meaning they can be hosed down easily. They are also nice and colourful as well as being long lasting and an excellent use of something unwanted. Safer Surfacing sent me some samples in the post so I thought why not try them seeing as biosecurity and ability to keep the hens clean is the priority now.
So, I spent the morning scraping up poop and mud, lifting up paving slabs, pinning down some small mesh and generally getting mucky in the cold! Next thing to do was build a frame to keep the chips in. My kind of shopping spree is at the local builders merchant buying bits of wood for hen projects and luckily I have a collection of screws and fixings for my DIY bodges! After some sawing and filing in the cold I made a frame and filled it with the chips. Some of the edges of the cage already had some wood attached to stop the hens kicking out the previous wood chips.
Don’t they look smart? That is the rubber chips and the hens! Here they are with my home made corn toy (out of a giant Ferrero Rocher case) having a scratch around in their new surface. I am pretty pleased with the rubber chips, time will tell how they work for run management and I will be back to tell you some more about them and my review.
The final thing I did at the weekend with my last bit of energy was to make a new perch. I thought a higher up one would be good for even more of a garden view for the girls. Here it is below. I plonked Laytrice on it just before bed to see what she thought and she walked up and down like a duck to water, or a hen to a perch, my little tightrope artist. She easily hopped down onto the straw bale then the floor and off she went to bed. (Since this I have seen some mucky footprints on the perch so I think the hens are making use of it. I can’t wait until the weekend to sneak up and see if they are using it!).
The last few weekends have been cold, mucky and busy, but it’s always good to get some fresh air and spend time with the hens. Laytrice is getting used to being picked up but my dear IG-88 is still an anxious girl like me. She does however like a sit on a lap when it is her decision, so sure enough once I sat on the straw bale, over she came. It wasn’t long until the others were intrigued and joined in, enabling me to to take some nice family photos, despite having a real camera with no front camera so having to guess at where I point it!
Next weekends job? Recycled tyre hen dust baths! I will be back to tell all 🙂
Mother of Hens x