Thursday, June 20, 2013

Organize your coop for free

I have what you may call a lot of coops. 5 They are situated on all sides of the clearing around our house. That's roughly an acre (if you're going by the acre=1 football field equation) The bulk of the chicken supplies are kept in the garage which is more or less a central location. If I had to walk back to the garage for every little thing, I wouldn't have time for much else! Unfortunately not all the coops have much storage space and I've had to be a little creative when coming up with chicken proof storage containers for inside the coops. 

Organize your coop for free

We started using large pretzel jars a few years ago. The in-laws like to buy in bulk and brought a bunch of empties over one day to see if we could use them. Ok...truth is they brought them over for hubby to use in the garage for tool parts and I snagged them....but I digress. I used those for feed for a long time, then I started saving other jars. I save any plastic food jar with a screw on lid. Snap on lids can be popped off by chickens. Don't ask how I know this. lol  I use them for grit, scratch, chick feed, oyster shell etc. Anything you might need in the coop....I have it in a food jar. 

The important thing to remember when saving jars is to only use food containers. Containers purchased with cosmetic or cleaning products in them may leach out chemicals even after they're cleaned. I honestly don't know how much of a problem it can cause, but I'm not taking chances! I clean them out with regular water and dish soap, then air dry them completely before filling. I've been able to cut a lot of time off my chicken chores by having what I need on hand in each coop. As a bonus, every jar I reuse is one less thing that ends up in the landfill!

~L

5 comments:

  1. We only have one coop near our shed, but I can see how this would be very helpful for those with more.

    I'd love it if you join us Thursday at:
    The HomeAcre Hop

    ~Ann

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  2. Hi there. Love your blog. I have 14 hens. 7 are mature and laying, and 7 are due to lay in the late summer, early Fall. I have an acre of land, and we keep the coop in the middle of the orange/avocado grove. It sits underneath the shade of some avocado trees, and their run is also shaded. I let them out to free range on the property after the eggs have been collected. My shed is close to the garden, and I keep all of my feed in there. My question to you is this.....I seem to be going through incredible amounts of feed!!! I also give them plenty of greens from the garden, and occasional treats such as watermelon rinds, etc. How much feed do they actually need. I know that they will eat as much as you feel them, it would seem. My feed bill is outrageous! I buy a 50 pound bag of lay kraquett, and a 25 pound bag of scratch. I mix one one part scratch to 3 parts lay. I also add a bag of oyster shell to this mix. I give them a scoop of straight scratch every once in a while in the evenings just for a treat. Also, how do I break two of my pullets from sleeping in a nest box?
    Hugs,
    Kris

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    Replies
    1. Hello Kris, thanks! I'm glad that you like it!

      First thing I would do is stop mixing the feed. Offer the oyster shell in it's own bowl. They don't need very much of it, and when it's mixed into the feed they can't really pick it out. You especially don't want pullets that aren't laying to get that much oyster shell. Too much calcium can harm their kidneys.

      I feed layer feed every morning in the summer then remove it after their done eating and let them free range the rest of the day. In the winter they need more feed, but in the summer they should be able to find plenty of bugs and weeds to eat if they free range. In the evening look at their crops. If they're full and bulging, they don't need anything. If they aren't full, I'll put the feed back down for them to eat before bedtime.

      I throw them some scratch every morning, afternoon and night. (It's not an exact time table...sometimes more, sometimes less. That should help your feed bill.

      The only thing I have found for breaking nest box sleeping is to remove them every night and place them on the roost. Eventually they just give up the fight and start sleeping on the roosts. You could also try blocking off your nest boxes at night.

      Hope that helps

      ~L

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    2. Kris: I suspect you may have rodents stealing your feed. Properly cared for chickens will not eat as much as is available to them- they will eat only as much as they need. I would try taking up the feed at night and put it back first thing in the morning (or buy a treadle feeder) to see if that solves the disappearing feed problem.

      I agree with Lisa that oyster shell shouldn't be mixed into the feed. Even if you only have laying hens, not young pullets, not all hens require as much supplemental calcium as others and putting it into the feed forces some to ingest more than they need. Excess calcium can cause gout and organ damage in older birds.
      I would also strongly suggest not adding scratch to the feed because doing so reduces the balanced nutrition in commercial layer feed that is carefully calculated by poultry nutritionists. Adding scratch to the feed means that they will not get as much protein, vitamins and minerals as they need every day to be maximally healthy and productive. Think of scratch as chicken candy and only feed it to your chickens sparingly and infrequently; stated another way: if you wouldn't put a Snicker's bar on your child's dinner plate, don't mix it into your chickens' feed.
      Best wishes to you and your peeps!

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    3. Ohhh, good catch Kathy! I didn't even think about rodents.

      ~L

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