January 21, 2007

The Chicken House

Winter in many chicken dwellings is a cold and unproductive place. But here on the ranch, the chicken house is cozy and functional. This building was constructed in 1944 which makes it about 63 years old. It has housed an assortment of animals over the years, but I've converted it back for poultry.

Modern for the time it was built, it has electric lights, exhaust fan on thermostat and outlets for brooder heat lamps. My very favourite convenience is a water hydrant, located inside the building. The bank of windows on the south wall provide passive solar heat and the inside walls are covered in. The low ceiling has a straw filled attic for added insulation. It's warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I am so thankful for the thoughtful and effective way this little building was constructed. It is the home for many happy animals!
Much to my approval, a young cat moved into the chicken house in the summer and had her kittens there. They are quite at home with the other occupants and catnap in the sun with duck s or chickens. The mother cat "Hoppie", sad to say had to be put down after being hurt by a wild animal, but her kittens “Lucky, California, and Ma Woods” remain as the chicken house cats. Thanks to them no mouse lasts long if it happens to wonder into their hunting territory!

Egg laying for both chickens and ducks slows down somewhat during winter months, but with extra lighting supplied (on a timer) production is maintained. For laying to continue it has been scientifically proven that the minimum light requirement is 14 hours.

Special Note: The all time favourite activity of all children is gathering eggs. They are all fascinated to find out where eggs come from. Sometimes their visits to the nests are so frequent that it may take the hens a day of so to recover fully! The egg production is somewhat down after noisy visitors. But it's worth it to see the smiles and excitement as the grandchildren bring in a pail of eggs that they picked themselves.

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