Tuesday, December 20, 2011

the chickloo, and other life changes

The Freedom Rangers are doing well. They are thriving in the mud room brooder. Under a heat-lamp near a roaring fire, they are learning to scratch, socialize, and stretch their little red wings. I have not lost a single bird, and am excited to build and create their winter shelter. I have plans for a super low-cost, low-energy chickloo out in the snow by the barn this winter. I'll purchase an inexpensive garden tractor/single car type tarp-covered "garage" and line the sides with pallets and haybales. A thick floor of pine shavings and straw, hanging heat lamps and feeders, and cozy meat birds should cost less than 300.00 to set up and be used over and over throughout the season. I'll post photos and updates as we go, but right now the Rangers are still in that amazingly-cute fluffball stage. They'll live inside with me for another 3-5 weeks and slowly we'll learn how to make-do outdoors.

You know your life is permanently changing when the idea of suspending heat lamps in a backyard chicken camp makes you want to spend the night drawing plans and sketches, and researching recipes yet uncharted...

P.S. Thank you for all the gifts and cards! Today I reached the 45 dollar mark towards the Heifer International Fund, and someone sent a beautiful set of presentable cookware...amazing. I am AMAZED!

21 Comments:

Blogger doglady said...

You will not be able to endure the stench these birds create. Mine arrived in May and within 10 days I had them outside using a Dogaloo for their shelter because of the smell they created in their brooder. They are as bad as Cornish for food consumption and pooh distribution. I would not invest in the shelter you have in mind but instead make them a hoop house with insulated shelter for the night. Yes bales of hay would be nice along the sides and some hay strewn inside. They very quickly can be weaned off the heat source but the more heat you give them now the more you have to give them in the weaning process. These are pretty rugged birds. Just as an aside, one of mine wasn't heavy enough to butcher so I tossed her in with the egg birds. She is now giving me double yolk eggs and my customers think this is really cool

December 20, 2011 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

thanks jen! advice has been a bug help!

December 20, 2011 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

Neat idea about the chickloo! I definitely want to see pictures when it's finished!!

BTW, I put a package in the mail for you, today... Hopefully it will get to you before Christmas! :)

December 20, 2011 at 9:03 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

They do smell REALLY bad, even in the best of circumstances. We keep them in a brooder as long as we can stand it, which isn't ever very long, and we've never had them in the house (we brood them in the shed). I'm anxious to see what setup you end up with.

December 20, 2011 at 9:30 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

A couple of thoughts for you:

I've been fortunate to find the skeletons of two of these structures at our recycling center. Both were twisted and bent from last winter's winds and snow loads. After a little grinding, welding, bolting I turned one into my turkey shelter however I built it on a heavy skid platform (and re-enforced the roof) which kept it from blowing away but allowed me to pull it around the yard to give the birds fresh grass.

My point being that if you go this route, I would secure the corners with a guy-wire arrangement and put some 2x4's inside to hold up the roof in case we end up getting another snowy winter.

My second thought is on a hoop house design. I've built several over the years and they definitely handle the wind much better and are cheap to build, but you really have to watch the snow load. I used metal conduit that I bent to a pattern I made on the hay loft floor instead of PVC. Even still the snow needs to be kept off the plastic which will stretch and tear.

I'm a huge fan of portable, easily dismantled farm buildings, so I think you a great idea.

December 20, 2011 at 10:37 PM  
Blogger georgie said...

You never know what you will learn from Jenna at CAF or her commenters!

December 20, 2011 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger beanyween said...

I just got a "shed in a box" today from tractor supply, on sale for $179.00. I needed some cover for alpacas, goats or a sheep- whoever wanted out of the rain since everybody is scared of the new barn resident pot bellied pig. The shelter is sturdy- I've had another one up since July through some heavy wind. And you can't build one any cheaper....it's 10' x10'.

December 20, 2011 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger Monique said...

our sheep have a moveable temporary shelter in addition to the permanent one - it is hog panels arched between t posts and covered with tarp. Works great and cheap.

December 20, 2011 at 11:29 PM  
Blogger Marci said...

They do end up stinking bad, but add more shavings or something like them and it helps. Also, if you have the ability to change out their bedding every once in awhile will help.

December 21, 2011 at 6:15 AM  
Blogger Chuck said...

Another idea - skip the "portable garage" part entirely and build directly out of straw bales with a few 4x4's thrown in to support the roof. We've found that tarps over canopy frames fare badly in the snow even here in VA.

Here's a sketch: http://www.supermotors.net/registry/media/900775

Throw the tarp over the top and stake it down, and that will keep everything dry. The tarp is continuously supported up top on the straw, so not too much to worry about with snow tearing the tarp. Use 10' 4x4's as shown, and space them about a foot apart. When you're done with it for the winter, fold up the tarp, use the straw as bedding, and throw the 4x4's in the loft for next winter.

December 21, 2011 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

They do reek, but it's winter and that will keep the smell down once you get them outdoors. I moved mine out of the shed at three weeks, and cleaned out the bedding every week. The ground underneath was still pretty icky, but I kept the birds dry with a thick bed of shavings and straw.

December 21, 2011 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger jim said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 21, 2011 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger jim said...

hey guys,anyone looking for some good fireside reading should get the book " the dirty life- a memoir of farming, food and love by Kristin Kimball----she writes a lot like our Jenna. I got it on Amazon.com--enjoy

December 21, 2011 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Misty said...

As long as you keep their wood shavings dry, the smell will be minimal. They do create dust, though, as they are growing their feathers. (Worth it when the chicken tastes so good.)

What you'll want to do more research on, though, is the transitioning of these juvenile birds to your outside coop. Somehow you'll have to figure out how to get them from their inside brooder to the outside coop without more than a 30 degree difference in temp. Figure this one out and they should do OK. (Just like lowering their brooder temp 5 degrees a week until it is ambient temperature, you'll have to condition their brooder for the colder weather outside. Maybe move their brooder to a cooler place in your house--after they are past needing the heat lamp inside-- away from the wood stove where it can be almost chilly. But this needs to be done gradually, too. Too big of a temp difference and they won't fare well. If they are trying to regulate their body temp because of a big change in temp, they won't be putting the energy into building body mass like they should.

Also, please don't use straw or hay for their bedding. It gets soggy too fast and then grows mold that can kill them. Use deep wood shavings that can easily be stirred up. ( Joel Salatin also advocates continually layering wood shavings every day in the brooder.)

December 21, 2011 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

I'm confused -- newbie on the subject on raising chickens. Wouldn't you need to have some sort of protection in the shelter from predators? It seems to me that the shelters you guys are talking about wouldn't stand up to a fox or raccoon.
Just wondering. :)

December 21, 2011 at 1:46 PM  
OpenID ruralaspirations said...

Having just raised meat birds for the first time this past summer I'm curious to see how your winter meat bird experiment goes. I'm so proud of you for giving it a go. I'm like you - just do it and work it out as you go along and learn. However, unlike you I'm a fairweather farmer. I like having all our animals tucked away safely in the freezer by this time of year. Hauling water and feed in the cold is not so much fun. Good luck with the Rangers - I'll be curious to know if they are significantly better than the Cornish.

December 21, 2011 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger La profesora said...

Either Countryside Magazine or Tek Supply once had a photo of a non-electric "heater" for chicks. It was made out of TekFoil (foil-bubble-bubble-foil insulation) in the shape of a box and suspended inside the coop a few inches above the floor. The open side of the box was facing the floor so the chicks could duck inside at will. The chicks huddled together inside to stay warm and ventured out when they wanted to forage or get a drink.

Here's an entire coop make of TekFoil: http://flashweb.com/blog/2005/12/winter-hen-coop.html

December 21, 2011 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger E said...

How will an "inexpensive garden tractor/single car type tarp-covered "garage" " hold up with a significant snow load?

December 21, 2011 at 3:46 PM  
Blogger Misty said...

I store my hay in a "single car tarp covered garage" that i bought from Harbor Freight years ago. It's about 8' by 16' long. It stands up to snow load really well as long as the tarp cover is in good shape. I've had to buy new cover kits for it over the years but have found the best way to make it last longer is to instantly put another large heavy duty tarp over the top and tie it down to the frame. (The sun isn't very forgiving and makes the tarp weak and tear under snow loads.)

For the record, the hay and straw is kept up off the ground by laying a tarp on the ground then pallets on top of the tarp. Keeps everything high and dry.

December 21, 2011 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

You may want to invest in a prefab setup east to deal with in several feet of snow. I recall reading with the existing house/barn roof you'll have to clear the surface every 3 inches...and possibly move the snow away from the immediate area.

I doubt you'll want to deal with the freedom rangers setup in those situations.

What will you do in heavy snow fall when you're at work? Hope the roofs don't give you too hard a time.

December 22, 2011 at 6:12 PM  
Blogger daisy said...

EEK! The card I sent came back to me! I will have to try to find the addy.

December 23, 2011 at 5:45 AM  

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