My Tiny Brood of Backyard Chooks

chooks, hens or chickens?


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How many chicken coops does a girl really need?

Melissa at vuchickens had a new chicken house built. I watched her coop building posts with ever increasing envy but I already have three coops so I dare not to suggest to my husband that I would like a new one like the one vuchickens has. DSC_0001_2045 This is my very first chicken coop before I knew what I was doing. I bought this one for the stray chicken that turned up at my place but when I introduced 2 Barnevelders to the mix, it quickly became apparent that this coop was far too small. They did however, free range all day so they really only had to sleep in this. DSC_0108_2430 A very short time later, we decided to upgrade to this coop. This was advertised to house eight to ten chickens. That should be enough room for our girls.

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But then my bantam went broody and we bought her some fertile eggs. She hatched her chicks but we decided they needed their own nursery coop away from the main hen house. So we got this chicken coop for her to raise her chicks in. We sold Hannah’s chicks shortly after but decided to keep the coop as a future maternity coop. We also kept the first small coop as a sick bay if it was ever needed.

Then somehow we had a chicken population explosion.

Firstly a rooster arrived from across the road. He preferred my ladies, my food and my accommodation. We kept him. His name was King George.
A few months later, his girlfriend from across the road also came to live with us. Her name is Aunty Dorrie and she is a silkie cross bantam.
A few more months went by and then a Silver Spangled Hamburgh rooster turned up, also from the farm across the road.
Then we decided we didn’t have enough egg laying poultry. We were only getting eggs from two of the six poultry living with us
. So we bought two Plymouth Barred Rocks who had just started their first laying season. So when we brought the Plymouth Barred Rocks home (Hillary and Henley) and my husband and I were outside  trying to rearrange the coops to fit everyone in, he said “I think we need to buy a proper chicken coop to keep all these chickens in”. DSC_0025 So after a quick happy dance and before he could change his mind, we went inside to do some internet shopping. We found the perfect chicken coop that houses up to 20 chickens and comes in a flat pack. The site for the new chicken house was cleared of trees and the footings have been put down.

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Winter proofing my chicken coop

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Living in the Auckland area of New Zealand, we don’t have really cold winters. Well at least we don’t have snow.

But at our house we have very, very strong winds. We live at the top of a hill and the wind rushes across the Kaipara Harbour, up the valley towards us and slams straight into the front of our house with all of it’s Westerly might.

Sometimes I see the chickens out the front on a windy day, struggling to keep upright against the wind. Their little feathers are blowing all around and sometimes the wind gusts send them a few quick steps in a different direction to where they were heading but they haven’t yet been blown away.

This weekend a storm struck New Zealand and along with the storm came very high winds (and rain).  I have a plastic tarpaulin covering the chicken coop to keep the rain out and as you can see, I have lots of very heavy rocks on the tarpaulin to keep it from blowing away. The rocks probably help to keep the chicken coop from blowing over as well.

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As I went to bed that evening, the wind and rain hitting the front of our house was probably the worst I have heard since we moved here. I went out to the side of the house where the chicken coop is and shone a torch to make sure the coop was still there and that the tarpaulin was still on. It was but the wind in the trees beside the coop was so loud, I wondered if the chickens were scared. Probably not. I doubt they feel that kind of fear. They can’t visualise the coop blowing over and them being all tipped around inside, or one of the massive trees falling on their coop and crushing them.

The next morning it was all very quiet. The wind had gone. I rushed outside to see if the chickens were ok.

There they were, waiting patiently for me to open their coop door so they could come outside to scratch and peck. They had no idea that their plastic roofing that covers their coop had blown off in the night and was lying broken and bent all over the lawn.

Somehow it had blown out from under the stretchies that I use to tie down the roofing. The photo above was taken after I managed to piece some of the plastic roof back together. I guess that will do until the next big winds, probably in a few days time.


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A new bigger and better coop for my chickens

In the background is the original rather small coop I bought for my chickens before I knew anything about chickens. Here is a post about my original rather small  coop.
It was bought to hold three to four hens. At least that is what it said on the box.
It was bought before I realised how big my heavy breed Barnevelders would grow.
It was bought before I realised I would fall in love with having chickens and would want more than three.

So once I had captured Hannah Hen, I decided that the little bantam and the two rather large Barnevelders where a bit squashed in the rather small sleeping quarters in the rather small coop and were probably sleeping on top of each other. And that isn’t fair.

So I searched Trade Me and found a hen house that is meant to hold eight to ten chooks and bought a run to go with it. So I set it all up  with nice soft wood shavings in the nests and on the floor, moved the handles so the run would fit properly against the house and added perches to the run so they could sit on them and watch the world go by.

Then we moved them in. I was worried that they might not settle straight away and that they might not even want to go into the new house! I had already disrupted their lives. I had captured Hannah Hen and locked her in a rather small coop for ten days when she had been roaming free in a paddock for years.  I had locked the two Barnevelders in with Hannah Hen to get them all used to being together when they had been used to free ranging all day . How they must be hating it.

But no need to worry. After about five minutes of exploring the run, the rather brave Hilda Hen walked into the house.

And then came back out to tell the others all about it.

This is what she saw .

Since then they settled quickly in their new bigger and better coop and continued to lay their little brown and little green eggs. And they have enjoyed sitting on the perches in the run watching the world go by.
That was last weekend. This weekend it was all about letting them out to free range again. That post is for another day.


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The Chicken Coop

What could be more cosy for the chook that decided to come live with us.  It is not quite the coop that I wanted but it will do. I had searched far and wide on the internet for the right coop for my tiny brood of backyard chooks (which of course totals one chook at the moment).

I really wanted this coop that I found on the Appleton’s website. You only have to read their website to realise how superior their coops are compared to the type that we ended up buying but Appletons are in Nelson and I live a long way from there. They do flat pack their coops for freighting but the cost was already quite high without the freight (you pay for quality) and being impetuous, I didn’t really want to wait. So we ended up going to our local RD1 store on Saturday morning and found this one in stock (flat packed of course).

A quick phone call to my brother and I had someone to put the coop together for me the next day. (Husband Haitch was sick so couldn’t do it.) I was a little worried as I have had problems in the past with imported kit set products where screws and other such bits were missing and almost impossible instructions supplied but although the instructions were not the best, all the bits were there and we did find a place for each one of them.  And the coop ended up looking like the picture on the box and all the doors and things fitted well and opened and shut where they should so he did a brilliant job!

And as you can see, Hannah Hen is very happily pecking away inside the coop at her pellets and little pile of kitchen scraps and wanders in and out at her leisure. We have decided not to shut her in at night at the moment as we want to leave the coop available for the rest of the brood while they get used to living at our house and thought it easier that she stays sleeping in our garden for now. That way we can keep her and the new ones separated for a while and hopefully get used to each other.

UPDATED Jan 2013
We now have two additional coops. We bought this one because it was bigger and then we bought this one later when we got baby chicks who couldn’t find their way up the ramp.