Saturday, May 12, 2007

Chicks ready for the big outdoors!

They've grown a lot in a month and the weather's improved to the point we're ready to let them out for their first day in their new pen. They spent the night in their portable chicken house and DS went out this morning to open the door.

I'm very glad to get them out of the garage! I read about the "chicken dust" that settles on everything but, thankfully, until the last couple of days, it hadn't been noticeable. Now I can see it in the air and on the shelves and everything else in the garage! Good to get them out in the fresh air -- that stuff can't be good for them to breathe all the time and it certainly isn't something I want drifting into the house through the open garage door. Can't imagine anyone keeping this many little guys in their house and how much dust and debris that would distribute around the home. . .

DH built the mobile chicken coop from USB and ripped 2x4s and elbow grease. Unlike the portable house in the backyard which is on wooden skids, he used 4 small lawnmower wheels to make this one mobile. The chain link dog pen was a giveaway. The chicks are small enough that they can squeeze through it so DH put a wooden stake inside each corner and to either side of the door, then used a partial roll of landscape netting (like vinyl chicken wire) to keep them in the pen. The pieces meet at the door and we use long vinyl-covered twist ties to close the gap there so we can open and close it.

Three overlapping pieces of netting cover the top of the pen and are weighted with wood to either side. Means everyone except DS has to stoop while in the pen but it keeps the chicks in and, hopefully any cats or other birds out. I don't think it would hold up to a larger predator but the pen is in the front yard only about 30 feet from the front door and 10 feet from the driveway. It's already proven its protection against T-cat, our hunter. He tried to get in by climbing the overhanging crabapple tree and didn't like getting caught in the net.

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