Sunday, March 16, 2014

Getting Started with Backyard Chickens - Part 3

I decided to add a base to the chicken coop to prevent the bottom wood of the structure from rotting and to make it sturdy to hold up to strong winds and large animals.  I left the center open so it would have an earthen floor.  Once I knew that the chickens were coming earlier than later,  I spend hours reading books and webpages and viewing YouTube videos to learn about backyard chickens and how to make feeders, water suppliers, and runs.  I settled on these as the best of the best I found during my research.  

My first construction was water containers.  I made six from juice bottles and poultry nipples.  It took less than five minutes from construction to handing in the coop for each one.  I purchased 50 poultry nipples for $15.00 which were more than enough but something I could share with other backyard chicken farmers.  I was amazed how simple it was to create.  To make each one I drilled: 

  • a 5/16" hole in the lid then screwed the nipple in making sure the nylon washer was tight.  
  • a small hole in the bottom of the container and ran nylon string through it out the mouth of the container. 
  • a little hole in the cap of a drink bottle plastic cap and tied the end of the string to it and pushed the cap inside the bottle.  I could have used a washer or just about anything that would fit in the mouth of the container.
Finally I tied a loop in the string and hung on the wire in the coop and on the PVC pipe on each corner of the run.   I used small S hooks in the coop and used old plastic shower curtain hangers for the water bottles on the run.  I also used the hangers to hold wire on the cage in areas where I did not want permanent holds with zip ties.  I also used Velcro cable wraps to hold the chicken wire on the run where I wanted a temporary opening to drop food into the run.

On the same trip when I went to pick up the chicken feed I stopped by Lowes and purchased the parts to the feeder.  I used 4" PVC pipe since they only had WYE in 4" with a 3" opening.  This worked out well since it holds more food and a filling last for almost a week.  There has been no waste and the chickens have no problem sticking their heads in to it to get the feed.  I purchased materials to make another one that uses a WYE 3" with a 3" opening for use in the run.  I was encourage to do this when I found several parts on sale and my dad had the 3" PVC pipe ;-)

When I was reworking my feeder I found a plastic plate in the PVC section of Lowes that blocks the food from going below where the chickens can't get to it.  This is a major improvement. 

I spent much time thinking about the run that I needed to add to the coop.  I decided to make it three feet tall, five feet wide and eight feet long with supports in the middle and an opening that would match the door to the coop.  It has worked out well.  I make sure they stay connected during the day with mini bungee cables.  I secured the wire with zip ties and at the ends where I had to cut the wire I allotted enough wire to wrap around the PVC pipe and over lap which allow it to "lock in" to the side wire.  This is something l learned by doing and pleasantly surprised that it held into place.

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