The great chicken experiment

We got our first batch of chickens about a year ago. Raised them in a Rubbermaid box while I built a coop for them. The coop had an attached run and I painted it blue. I named it the C.H.A.R.D.I.S. as an homage to Doctor Who. We also named all the chickens after characters from the show.

Chicks

Chardis

I love my chickens. It was the best time of the day when I could let them run in the yard. I would just sit out in my chair and watch them run, fly and feed. I also fed them by hand when I needed them to get back in the coop.

ByHand

We must have pulled 100 dozen eggs out of the nesting boxes since they started laying. They were the best tasting eggs I’ve ever had! I had four Barred Plymouth Rocks, two Production Reds, two, Buff Orpingtons and a pair of Bantams: one hen and the prettiest little rooster you’ve ever seen.

DanEgg

That all came to an end tonight. We got home from work and there were a pair of stray dogs in the yard. They had been seen before, digging around the coop trying to get in, but I had always chased them off. This time, one of them got up on top of the run and clawed through the chicken wire into the pen with my chicks. They were mostly dead by the time I chased the dogs off and the two or three that weren’t didn’t last long.

It’s a heart breaker. We were planning on killing them when they quit laying, but that was more than a year from now if they were average chickens. So I guess I will head out tomorrow and pick up a bunch more chicks and start raising them.

I also need to address the coop situation. I will build another one. This time I will use better materials. I did a pretty good job with the current one. I had no idea what I was doing when I started, but it was functional and I was very proud of it. I have seen through use where I can improve upon the design and will start on that tomorrow.

This one will be much stronger. I will install drainage pipes and prep the ground to not hold water; use heavier wire to enclose the chicks and install staggered boards. That will let air circulate while providing a barrier for all but the smallest predators.

I also need to build it taller so that nothing can climb on top of it. I would also like to be able to walk in it standing upright. That would make cleaning and maintenance a little easier.

So we have had a setback, but now it’s time to look forward and hit the reset button. Wish me luck.