Sunday, June 3, 2012

How To Move Chickens


Grrrr!  Actually moving this coop is easy-peasy!

We moved our laying flock from the Big Farm to our Little Farm today.  Which went a lot better than when we moved them from the farm where we boarded them over the winter, to the Big Farm.

For that adventure we had to drive 5 hours with the Suburban and 16' flatbed trailer, pick up a load of stuff from storage, then wait until after dark to pick up the chickens because they roost in the rafters of a small barn at our friend's farm.

As we arrived at our friend's place, Papa Bear pulled onto a field road in preparation for turning the flatbed and Suburban around.

Not realizing they had recently received 6" of rain in 24 hours and the field road, although seemingly solid, was a muddy mess.  And we, in our poor old Suburban with broken 4WD and bald tires, pulling a heavy load, were doomed.

{I know mamas - not safe!  Spoiler: We made it home fine.}

1.5 hours later with two of us covered in mud and our trailer ramps bent to crap from using them as traction under the wheels, and the addition of a skid steer with a hitch, we were free of the mud.

Next came a lively scene where our friend's son climbed up into the barn rafters and snatched roosting chickens as they ran and flew away from him - catching them and tossing them down to us, and we hauled them out to the 'Burb and stuffed them into pet crates.

There were a couple of mistakes - "That buff chicken isn't ours - we already loaded our two."  "That squawky rooster DEFINITELY isn't ours...."  "Oh, you're keeping our Rhode Island Reds?  I didn't realize that..."

But finally we were all loaded up and back on the road by 10:00pm for our 5-hour drive home.


No, this adventure was far, far easier than that one.  And no, I don't have pictures.  It was dark.  And I was covered in mud.

This time we only had to move them 6 miles.  We closed them into their new coop the night before, and the next morning all we had to do was catch them in the coop (quite easy) and load them into the kennels.

Pet crates work like a charm for holding chickens.  We happened to acquire a couple of extra ones for free recently that we immediately put into use.

Moving chickens to the Frisky Farm

I especially like the name on label on the left crate (Hunter). How ironic that the bird-dog crate is now holding birds.

When we moved our chicken coop into storage last fall we realized (just a tad too late) that it was too wide to fit on our 8' trailer. We got it to storage anyhow, and by some miracle, it fit into the storage unit.  We stuffed it full of items from the garage then left for our three month trip to Hawaii.

Good lord - chicken coop IN our storage unit!

We figured we'd deal with it when we got back.

We got back to WI in March, and we closed on our new farm June 1st.  That meant we now had to deal with the too-large-to-move-chicken-coop in our storage unit.

On our way into Minneapolis on one of our many trips to haul our belongings home from storage, I hurriedly put together a Craiglist ad as we whizzed down I90, pulling out pictures from my hard drive and connecting to the internet via a Verizon broadband card.

That ad, created while we sped 70mph towards Mayer, generated interest by no fewer than 5 parties. I didn't sell the coop that day, but the next time we came to town we succeeded.

Frisky Farm mobile chicken coop hoop house

Meanwhile, Papa Bear had already whipped up a brand new coop for the girls - this time measuring carefully to ensure the coop would actually fit on the trailer.

Frisky Farm pastured eggs from free-ranging happy chickens

It's a sweet little mobile chicken coop hoop house made of cattle panels and chicken wire, with wheels on one end that flip down and under the coop whenever you want to move it.

It's topped with an old billboard tarp that we purchased from the Amish Wal-mart.  And it's tall enough on the inside to easily clear Papa Bear's head, even when he's wearing his New Zealand sun hat.

PB and Dixie Chick

It has nest boxes made from free buckets we cut in half and a roost made from a tree branch.

Bucket nest boxes and branch roost

We use poultry nipples (less than $2/ea) on another free bucket which holds a week's worth of water and never gets dirty.  (Although the chickens all prefer the rabbit water bottle in the photo above). In the summer we've been known to add frozen water bottles to the bucket to help keep the water a bit cooler for the girls.

Little Miss Sunshine taking a drink

New additions to this coop over our first one are the addition of a pop-hole door in the people door and of course those flip-up wheels (ah-MAZE-ing!).

Pop hole chicken door!

{I am a bit in awe of this man's coop-building skills.}

Have Coop - Will Travel

Papa Bear took an old water bottle and made it into an oyster-shell holder and he'll be making another one soon for kelp.  They have standard metal fonts for feed which we hang pretty high so they can't scratch the feed out onto the ground.

Metal feeders and homemade oyster shell dispenser

Two strands of 100' electric bird netting keeps the girls contained where we want them (and keeps any curious and hungry predators OUT).

Home Safe Home - surrounded by electric netting

The bucket is weather protection for the fence charger, which is supposed to stay inside of a building.

Treat time for the girls

This is our version of "weather-proofing."

Now all the girls have a new place to roam and call "home."  Oh, and we did acquire one rooster from the Big Farm.  I'm sure you'll be hearing more about him in the future.

Cheers - 
Gypsy Farmgirl moves chickens


Anonymous said...

Victoria just posted your chicken tractor on Pinterest. I thought I know that person and I did. Like the tractor. Am going to need one soon.
Mary j.

Elizabeth Turnbull said...

Do you have plans for the hoop-style chicken tractor? It looks ideal! (And how many chickens do you keep in it?)

Victoria Strauser said...

Elizabeth - I'm not sure what you mean with your first question - we put a tarp on this coop and use it all summer (April-November) out on the hay fields, moving chickens around. Depending on the roosts/nest boxes, you can have up to 20 chickens in here IF you let them out of the coop to range around during the day (as we do). Otherwise, only a handful I'd think. Thanks!

Unknown said...

What are your base measurements for your tractor? I love this idea!

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