It all started with my father-in-law asking, “Would you like a couple of my chickens?’’
“Could be fun,’’ I thought to myself.
I got clearance from the Mrs and the kids were on board, so the story of ‘fowl play’ begins….
First things first – these chickens will need somewhere to sleep and to scratch about (as apparently they will mess up the penstamons?).
So I decided to convert the children’s playhouse. Cue a trip to Scats, some floodlit assembly and a playhouse make over. The kids don’t use their playhouse much these days so after some careful persuasion they agreed to donate it to the chickens.
“Will they poo all over it?’’ asked my 4 year old daughter. “Definitely,’’ replied Mum. At this stage none of us had any idea how much.
To transform the house I boarded up the windows with some 4×2 strips, just to keep the neighbourhood cats out. This was easily done despite the fact I was hammering in the dark after work with my son holding the torch and moving every few minutes to activate the sensor on the flood light.
I decided on a split level ‘mezzanine’ style so made a platform from 1.5” x 0.75” slats of wood. Don’t use MDF as it won’t last once wet.
I made them a ramp from the remaining slats cut to fit with some 0.5” dowl for grip.
The platform is about a foot off the ground and is big enough for their nest box (in this case its the drawer from a chest that they have always slept in).
I did make their exit on this level too but after a frost they came slipping down the ramp in a rather ungainly hap hazard fashion into the outside area so I boarded that hole up and cut a new one on ground level which was much better.
You could be very clever here and cut a hole on the back to reach in and get the eggs. Alternatively just open what was the door to the playhouse and send one of the kids in.
To stop the chickens rampaging all over the garden I made an ‘A’ frame design hutch that can be detached from the house and moved round the garden.
More late night drilling and sawing with my little boy ensues before we have this finished.
I used a 12ft semi circle fence post and cut it into two, a pallet from the tip and a roll of chicken wire.
‘U’ shaped pins are best to secure the wire and at least 1.5” wood screws to join each strut.
Basically it’s a rectangular base and a triangle on each end with a beam running along the top. Cover it all in chicken wire and you will have a ‘tent’ shape that is easy to move around.
Torrential rain then struck so I used heavy duty plastic bags stapled onto the beam as temporary cover. These are actually still on two months later as they were also useful when it snowed. We fold them back when its dry as the chickens need light. We have been told this encourages them to lay.
Amusingly, after all this work the pesky poultry didn’t lay a single egg until Christmas Eve – we got them in September.
They are on track now and have become firm friends with the kids. “Morning Ladies,’’ they cry when they go to collect eggs.
I may add a conservatory or utility room on for them next….
If you have any input or a question for DIY Dad then please leave a comment below.