Monday, January 14, 2008

Winter Digs for the Chickens

You may remember my previous post about building a winter home for our five laying hens. It was great because I had some good ideas from Walter Jeffries over at Sugar Mountain Farm and from the comments on this blog ... but, to tell you the truth not much really happened. Life took over for a little while and the chickens seemed to be handling themselves just fine. So, I guess let's just chalk this year up as experimentation!

But, really they have continued laying at what I would consider a good rate because we aren't providing any artificial light. Our five layers have been giving us between 14 and 18 eggs per week (enough for us) through this winter. Most of the winter they have just been on the garden in the same pen that they were in all year. It is in a good spot so that they are pretty well protected from the wind, but it is still all open.

As you can see from the pictures my wife finally decided to take some initiative and went to Wal-Mart to get $2.00 worth of clear plastic. It's not going to provide much insulation, but it does help some and keeps the wind out. Also, we have added some hay because we have been thawing a bit and they were getting pretty muddy. Besides providing a clean base and a little warmth the hay also provides a little food and insulation for the ground. Just today when I went to gather the eggs (three) I saw some bugs moving around, so I know that our combination is working.

So, here is our recipe ... one $9.00 plastic blue tarp left over from our small boat we sold, two bales of grass hay (from the farm), a few bungee cords (also from boat), and $2.00 of clear plastic from the painting aisle at Wal-Mart. A little more insulation and some light would help, but this seems to be working for us in the snow of Southern Iowa. Plus, the eggs keep coming so these girls are earning their keep over the winter!

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