Chicken oyster & grit dispenser and run enhancements

Yesterday I did a bunch of relatively small projects for the chicken coop and run, as the last building projects for it (for now, at least). Namely to make an oyster shell and grit dispenser for inside, moving and seeding the grazing frame, building outdoor roosts, making swings, and adding logs. With all that done, I was finally able to put away the tools that have been living around the coop for the last several months. A very satisfying feeling to be officially done at last.

Here’s the oyster & grit dispenser; oyster shell is good for chickens to help make strong egg shells, and they need grit to help digest treats and such (they can find sand and such in the run to serve that purpose, but convenient to have it on hand if they want it):

Installed, between the waterers and feed tube:

Outside, I moved the grazing frame, which exposed some grass that had started to regrow… this is almost all gone now, a day later:

The grazing frame is now in the opposite corner of the run. I added some soil and grass seed, so before long they’ll have more tasty grass to nibble on:

I next built some roosting bars in the corner where the grazing frame was before:

It was met with approval:

A couple of chicken swings, which they could perch on to keep them entertained (not sure how successful these will be):

And finally, I added some logs and branches as additional entertainment and perch opportunities:

Chicken run roof

Over the last several days, I finished off the new chicken run, fully enclosing it with a netting roof.

Firstly, I extended the fence between the two chicken runs, to be the same height as the rest of the new run fencing:

Then I installed poles and beams every 8 feet:

A beam over the roof of the coop:

One last escape by Camilla:

Poles and north-south beams done:

Started adding netting:

Buffy enjoying a perch on the ladder:

Adding east-west beams:

Foiled!

Done:

View from above (hard to see the netting; it covers the entire top):

Easier to see here:

Chicken poop tray & grazing frame

Today I crossed another couple of little chicken projects off my list.

Firstly, I built a poop tray — a nested tray to collect the poop chickens release overnight while roosting, to make it easier to keep the coop clean.

Here is the outer tray, which features an opening at the back (towards us) and a welded wire screen to keep the chickens out:

And the inner tray, with a small opening at one end to enable scooping out the waste:

They fit together like this within the coop, accessed via the poop door:

Both could be removed if I want to sweep out the entire coop. But typically just the inner tray will be pulled out to clean out, without exposing the whole doorway:

Here’s what it looks like inside:

Next up, I built a grazing frame — a structure with a hardware cloth screen on top. We can plant grass or other fodder inside the frame, which will grow up through the wire, so the chickens can eat the tops without destroying the entire plant. (Given an opportunity, chickens will turn any amount of foliage to barren dirt in time, by scratching and pecking plants into oblivion.)

The chickies are intrigued:

Chicken run: now open!

This morning I finished the new chicken run fencing, and installed the automatic pop door opener (with a little help from Domino), enabling the chickens to access the run:

The opener is mounted to a small door, so it can be accessed from inside the coop:

Here’s the pop door open for the first time, much to the chickies surprise:

Outside the coop, the opener is behind a window, so the light sensor can work:

Here’s inside:

And a close-up:

Chickies peeking out of the pop door:

Unsurprisingly, our bravest new chicken, imaginatively named Merida after the Pixar movie character, was the first to leave the coop to the newly fenced chicken run (YouTube video):

Followed by Domino:

And a few others:

But some weren’t yet brave enough:

Good thing it was a bit cloudy this morning; once the sun came out, they were all much more reluctant to leave the coop.

Chicken run: fencing wire

Over the last few mornings I’ve been attaching 14-gauge welded wire fencing to the chicken run framing:

The lower course flares out a little below ground level, to prevent animals from digging under the fence:

Fenced gates:

From inside:

And outside:

A close-up of a U-shaped nail (for once nailed by hand, instead of using the air nailer):

I cleared out the run, in preparation for chickens gaining access soon:

And added a little temporary shade:

Chicken run: gates

You know when you have big gaps in fences, intended for people to go through? Traditionally those are filled with gates. Call me crazy, but that seems a useful idea.

So, over the last couple of days I built gates for the chicken run; a small one for people to go through, and a big double gate for vehicle access.

Here’s the small gate, after being built:

Wondering about the bit at the bottom? Here’s the gate installed, so you can see why; it’s to allow for the bottom board of the fence when mounting the hinges:

The view from inside the run:

Next up, the big gate. Here’s one side assembled, but not yet mounted:

And both sides installed:

From another angle:

And from inside:

Open:

Next up: installing the fencing wire!

Chicken run: remaining framing

Back to work on the chicken run, after the festivities of the weekend (and thanks for all the kind words about the coop).

Yesterday I installed one of the posts and horizontal beams for the small gate west of the coop:

Then today I did the couple of posts and beams on the other side of the gate:

And added a sill below both gate openings; the small gate as above, and the big gate: