Is the situation familiar? You sit on the Internet on winter weekends and plan: you want to do one thing, then another …
The approach is correct, especially when the number of ideas goes off scale, and the warm season flies by so quickly. Here, for example, is the idea of keeping chickens: both eggs and meat, everything is our own, everything is homemade …
Is it beneficial at all? If you think only about the quality of the product, then yes. Health always pays off.
If we talk about material costs, it’s who has what. One invests money, the other his work, which is more costly — only you can judge. One thing is for sure: a dozen eggs for one week, bought in a store, will cost less than the whole “mess” with chickens. If you are planning something more, then you already have to consider …
Therefore, I’ll just tell you about the upcoming costs of building a chicken coop, and you yourself calculate what and how.
Information for beginners:
CHICKEN COOP OWN HANDS
A winter (year-round) chicken coop is the most expensive option, so I’ll focus on it.
How to build, I already wrote in an article about the hozblok. That’s why I’m moving on to the next question.
For a summer chicken coop, where chickens only spend the night and rush, at least 1m is suitable2 for 5 chickens, if you want a dozen — prepare a house for 2 m2 etc.
In winter, chickens go outside, literally, for several hours, and most of the time they spend in the chicken coop. There, for a normal exercise (like, «stretch»), the same five chickens require 3 m2 plus 1m2 for every next five goals (it is unlikely that all of them will “walk” at the same time).
But considering that you will also enter the chicken coop, and not only enter, but do something, for example, clean the floor with a shovel, you should proceed from your own needs. And ergonomics (the science of human comfort) states that the minimum linear size of a room cannot be less than 2 meters. In other words, in a winter chicken coop, the walls should be at least 2 m wide, plus a minimum height for utility rooms of at least 190 cm.
Thus, the minimum size of a winter chicken coop that is convenient for you should be 2m x 2m = 4m2.
Optimal (with a margin for livestock growth and amenities) — 8 m2. Here it will already be possible to make a pantry for storing dry food.
WARMING OF THE WINTER COOP
A gas block with a thickness of 20 cm or more does not require insulation, but it will be necessary to take care of wind protection (at least plaster).
The wooden shed from the inside is first sheathed with waterproofing, then with a layer of mineral wool (whether it will be 10 or 15 cm depends on the severity of the local climate).
The insulation layer is covered with a vapor barrier film, a crate is made on top (it will provide an air gap) and the OSB is sewn up.
Similarly, the roof and floor are insulated. The OSB floor must be painted to protect it from moisture.
According to the standard, the window is located on the southeast wall. Its size should be at least ¼ of the floor area. That is, for a chicken coop 4m2 This is a 1m window.2for a room in 8m2 — two windows of 1m2.
Window frames should be double, the presence of a window is not necessary, because there will be more ventilation, which is more efficient.
In addition to natural lighting, artificial lighting is required, LED lamps are the most optimal solution.
IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW. In October, the hens begin their molting season. This is a natural biological process of preparing for winter. In it time the hens stop laying. Poultry farmers recommend giving laying hens a month of rest …
In November, artificial lighting is turned on in the chicken coop. The light is on from 6 am to 8 pm. These 15 hours of «sunny day» give the chickens a signal that «spring» is back and it’s time to lay eggs. In two weeks you will receive the first results.
Chickens spend the night on horizontal poles, like on branches. This is their nature, you should not deprive the birds of such smallness.
What pole size to choose? A beam with a section of 5×6 cm and rounded ribs will be just right. Five is the width, and six is the height, a centimeter difference is necessary for rigidity, a chicken family on a perch has a certain weight 🙂
For a narrow perch, you can buy a holder for shovels (it is thicker than usual), it is better to take an aspen one (it is stronger).
If we talk about the height of the location, then 50 cm is optimal (not all chickens are light and mobile, some breeds are real heavyweights).
The number of poles is calculated based on the number of chickens: for one — 25 cm perch, plus free space for moving and turning around.
Poultry farmers advise against perching with a ladder: this is optimal, but chickens from the top row dirty those that sat lower. The distance between the poles is 35 cm, the distance from the pole to the wall is 25 cm.
Chickens rush in the dark, so the sections are nested in a corner with shading.
Paradoxically, but most often it is a wall under the window. To be absolutely sure, the nest is equipped with a “roof”: width 30 cm, depth 40 cm, height 40 cm.
The front side is necessary so that the egg does not roll out, and the litter does not spill out. Its height is 5-10 cm.
The height of the box above the floor is no more than 40 cm. The arrangement in two tiers is not always justified due to the fact that chickens always choose a lower nest due to their low height. If you are making a second tier, be sure to bring a convenient ladder to it.
The number of nests depends on the number of laying hens: 3-4 nests are usually made for 10 hens.
LITTER IN THE CHICKEN COOP
The traditional chicken coop bedding is chopped straw. But if possible, it is better to give preference to softwood sawdust. Ephedra contain phytoncides — a natural antiseptic, and this is the health of your pets.
Sand as bedding on the floor is of little use — it quickly draws moisture and it will be damp in the chicken coop.
FEEDERS AND DRINKERS
Regarding feeding, the opinions of poultry farmers differ: someone likes automatic feeders and drinkers, someone they did not fit.
All negative reviews boil down either to freezing water in winter (it’s not clear here, in any case, there should be a positive temperature in the chicken coop), or to the fact that it’s uncomfortable for chickens to drink from them (as they say, no comment) …
Feeders with a hopper are very convenient, because knowing the average consumption of feed, you can pour it into the hopper and not worry about it for several days. However, some poultry farmers complain about chicken «pampering»: birds simply scatter food, so only a single portion is poured into the bunker.
Ventilation in the chicken coop is required, if in doubt, untie the bag with the smoker — the smell of ammonia will simply knock you off your feet.
It is simply contraindicated for chickens, like you, to be in such an unsanitary environment, therefore forced ventilation is done in a small chicken coop, and in a large one you can limit yourself to supply and exhaust.
The issue of heating the chicken coop is controversial, they say, for centuries, chickens were kept in a simple barn without insulation, ventilation and heating — it was normal. If you feed chickens for slaughter, then it is quite possible that frostbitten paws and combs will not touch you much.
But feeding the hens and keeping them cold is wasted money because they won’t lay.
Therefore, heating in the form of an infrared heater or an electric convector will not be superfluous. It is quite possible that you will not turn them on often, and if the insulation is complete, then you will do without them at all. The thermometer inside the chicken coop will tell you how to proceed.
If you decide to get down to business seriously, then it is best to install a thermostat in the chicken coop, which, when the temperature drops critically, will turn on the heating, and after reaching the desired level, turn off the system.
ENTRY AND PAD FOR PADDING
For walking chickens, they equip a small pen, fenced with a mesh (metal or thick plastic) with a small cell.
From the sides, the mesh (slate) is dug into the ground no less than 30 cm to prevent undermining by a ferret or a fox.
A roof over a paddock is a desirable element, but not mandatory, and in its absence, it is necessary to tighten the aviary from above with a net — this will protect chickens from birds of prey. There will be enough thin plastic aviary mesh.
Chickens go from the chicken coop to the pen through a hole measuring 30 x 30 cm. A ladder is installed from the hole to the ground.
STORAGE OF DRY FOOD
Our grandmothers kept grain in huge wooden boxes. This did not save the food from rodents; moreover, it attracted them to settle in the chicken coop. But plastic containers are a modern solution. A barrel with a screw cap will protect chicken food from rodents and dampness.
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