Thursday, May 6, 2010
NEST BOXES READY FOR THE COOP-D'VILLA
HELLO & welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! I plan to turn the little pullets loose from the brooder tomorrow, Friday, May 7th, 2010. I am trying to have most everything in the coop as I want it so no new introductions will cause any stress on their lives and their future laying abilities and to keep them as calm as possible. I made a 6-bay nest box yesterday out of recycled materials. You know your Garden Daddy...reclaim, reuse, re-purpose & recycle! I will need at least 2-more nesting spots for my "girls" due to the ratio of nest-to-hens required allotment that is often suggested for stress free and aggression free stability. That is 1-nest box for every 4-hens. As I have some hens that will be rather heavy birds and larger than others, I am making a stacked set of 2-nest out of two large plastic flower pots I am no longer using, turned on their side and a short front mounted to hold in nesting material. My Black Jersey Giant pullets could top out at around 10 or 11-lbs when mature this fall and they might like a larger space and also the Buff Orpingtons as well, might like a larger space due to their body width, feather fluff, etc.
I chose to use milk crates and recycled shipping pallets I cut up for two reasons: ONE: Milk crates are heavy plastic and can be easily cleaned up with the pressure washer in the future. TWO: Shipping pallets are FREE and can be easily cut up with a reciprocating saw and made into anything as well as keeping more trash out of the local land fill. Here is the outcome below. I thought you might like to see this to get some ideas of your own. This past week I also made a new potting bench out of a shipping pallet I have not yet painted but made it high enough one does not have to bend over to work on re-potting plants or while working on a garden project. The slots in the table top allow for dirt to just fall through and recycle back to the earth again. And cleanup is almost non existent.
You can see I added a sloped "roof" on the crates. And you often see nest boxes with sloped roofs on them in garden and farm photos. This is easy to explain. The sloped roof keeps the hens from roosting on top and manure build up on or in their laying area. Yes, I know this might not be the best looking next box set up but it will not only get the job done on a frugal budget but it will also be easy to maintain and clean up when needed. Now all I have to do is add some straw in each nest, a golf ball to each (a golf ball gives the pullets the idea what the boxes are for - an egg, a golf ball...they do not know the difference) and the hens will do the rest. In case you did not know, chickens are a little on the dumb side. Did I say "a little"? I should have said a lot! I know that might ruffle some feathers out there in backyard chicken keeping but they eat, poop and lay eggs and offer meat. They are not that smart about getting themselves in and out of trouble or trying to "think through" a problem like say a dog or cat or horse or some other of our creatures we are charged with their care. But all in all, they are such a pleasure to watch and you can definitely get a lift in your day often with watching their antics and the way they chase a bug or run from each other when one finds a real prize in the grass and others want it from them. They will cause an out loud chuckle from anyone who keeps them and you will never be sorry for taking on a flock, even if it is just a few. Remember, NEVER-NEVER have just one hen. That is why our farmstead birds are called "flocks" as they need the flock to help each other. The old saying, "Birds of a feather, flock together" holds true. Always have at least 3-hens. I think in my own mind, that being strictly my opinion, the minimum one should have. You might have breeds that do not lay every single day, and most do not anyway. So 3-hens will give you an average of about 4-5 eggs per week, and that way you will have about 12 to possibly 16 eggs per week and if you are a household of 2 or 3 that would be plenty. I am a household of 1 (one) and I easily eat 1-dozen eggs per week myself. Eggs are FULL of protein, not as much cholesterol as the "red meat" producers would like you to think and these hens of mine will have the advantage of free range, organic, non-steroid/medicated and natural Omega-3 and the best taste...I cannot wait. Eggs are a great meat substitute for those of us that DO NOT eat much meat as I myself do not, and they make a great "pot luck" item for outings and go-to dinners, where you can not only have deviled eggs but egg salad sandwiches, quiches, any number of baked goods, etc.
This is Thursday and I have a lot to do. I have my own garden to weed a little, go look in on my community garden site and some yards to mow and so this is a busy day for this Garden Daddy and I must leave you now. And I do it with our strong and ongoing farmstead affirmation in mind for you: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"