Friday, April 27, 2012

Chicken Run

The Chicks and Hens that I wrote about previously are absolutely adorable. Only 8 weeks old, the little ones have grown by leaps and bounds, and Zelda (Speckled Sussex) and Buttercup (Buff Orpington), the two hens we acquired, have been with us for 6 weeks. They are all in their new digs now and seem very happy.

It took several weeks for the two ladies to get settled in and begin to lay, but currently appear relaxed and are offering about an egg a day. Buttercup has been faithful to lay one about every 24 to 25 hours.  Zelda on the other hand, seems to skip a day now and then. After two days of no eggs, we laughingly said, "Zelda, chicken stew", and sure enough she came through yesterday. (wink)

Scratching and in constant motion
The chicks were quickly outgrowing their brooder, so we decided we had better put in a run and one large enough that we could divide the area, separating the chicks from the hens until the chicks grow larger and can defend themselves and the hens have an opportunity to get acquainted with the new girls in town.

We did a lot of reading prior to building the run, and one excellent source when it comes to almost anything about chickens is They suggest 2-3 square feet per hen inside the house and 4-5 square feet in the outside run. We wanted our girls to have adequate space; thus, the area would encompass the front, one side and the back of the coop.

Of course many things take longer than estimated, but it was worth the several days of effort to get it as we wanted. We put in 4 corner posts anchored in a concrete base in order that the structure withstand the high winds we get at times; a metal roof was used on the side to offer shade in the summer heat and a dry area for them to scratch during the rainy season. The end result is a 19-square-foot-per-chick enclosure.... nothing too good for our girls. (wink)

South side, chicken run
North side, chicken run
Due to many predators in our area, we used wire mesh (expensive) for the lower half and regular chicken wire for the top half. The 3 foot high mesh runs the perimeter of the run, is secured inside, folds under the base 2 x 4, extends one foot to the outside and is covered over with dirt and pebbles.

We added a place for them to roost on either end, and chicken wire divides the run so they can get used to one another over time. We chuckle at how much time Zelda and Buttercup spend at the fence line with the chicks.

We have one more little project: the area above the entrance is currently covered with chicken wire; we have some used Suntuf in the shed to put in its place to make an even dryer area.

My husband and I were chuckling the other day: just think of what chickens have done for our language. What other ones can you think of?

flew the coop
cooped up
pecking order
mother hen
get up with the chickens
go to bed with the chickens
don't count your chickens before they're hatched
don't put all your eggs in one basket
walk on egg shells
egg on your face
cock sure
rules the roost
cock of the walk
you're no spring chicken
nest egg
madder than a wet hen
you're chicken
ruffle your feathers
that's chicken feed (scratch)
he's a bad egg
run around like a chicken with your head cut off
coming home to roost
empty nest 

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