This week was a big week for our laying hens. They finally graduated from the brooders to their hoop coops! They are just shy of 5 weeks and are quite a bit bigger than when they came home. Most of their chick "fluff" has been replaced with realy feathers. They still have a little fluff on their necks and although they're outside, we are still keeping the lights on them at night.
We had a little bit of work left to complete on the coop before it was ready for the birds. The tarp, which proved to be an engineering feat, was the last thing to go on. We couldn't decide how to lash it down, or whether or not we should use more than one tarp. We chose to go with just one tarp and leave the very front end exposed. We will totally enclose the coop this fall in preparation for the winter, but for now seems to be working just fine with one end exposed. We used small pieces of trim screwed through the tarp on the bottom and back. We used some Gorilla Glue to tape the tarp down below the nesting box hinge so water doesn't drip on the ladies while they're in the roosting boxes. The end result looked pretty good!
The Barred Rock hens have gone from almost all black (when we got them) to the traditional black and white flecked. The Buff Orpingtons have remained their original color, but have gotten their adult feathers in.
We chose to move the coop to the garden, which is laying fallow right now. There is a little grass growing in the garden (which will be nice to have the hens eat up) and the chicken manure will be great for the vegetables this year. It's a win-win situation! Plus, it is still close enough to the shop that we can string an extension cord for the lights at night.
It seems during the evenings and nights they huddle up close (to be expected), and during the day they enjoy milling about the coop. For now, they are completely confined to the coop. They have enough room and food.
The automatic waterer is working like a dream! A five gallon bucket sits on top of the coop and feeds the red waterer when it gets low. This keeps a nice, fresh supply of clean water for the birds and is completely low-maintainance.
The dog is very interested in what's going on with the chickens. And maybe not in a good way....?