|Charcoal in June 2007|
|Charcoal and her piglets December 2012|
You can see an interior divider gate on the right side of the shed. That was used to divide the building when needed. It was mostly used as a nursery pen where new mommas and babies could be separate from the rest of the herd. What you can't see is the small door on that side of building and the fencing that was eventually added to create two pastures, separate, but both accessible from the building. The set up worked out very nicely for us.
In the scaling back and finding our feet again process we've been in the last few years, there are no longer goats or sheep here on the farm. We have used the space for pigs, temporarily, but it really doesn't work well, and the floor of the building was not designed for that kind of weight, which we found out the hard way, We Won.
The better part of the last couple years we haven't done anything with that building. There have been chickens in the pasture, but we were using temporary shelters (with mixed results.) This year we want to expand our broiler production, and knew we needed to do something different.
The main chicken house is large enough for a lot of chickens. It has access to a very large run that can then be opened up to the woods or to the yard to be sure the chickens get full access to bugs and plants and all the things they love to forage.
With our first batch of broilers I assumed that I could keep them in the same space, and it would all be fine. They never left the chicken house. Our long steep chicken ladder was the issue.
In order to up broiler production we needed to build something new, or convert what we had. We chose to convert the goat shed.
Protecting chickens from night predators is always our biggest challenge. In order to use the goat shed for the broilers we needed to secure it. The first task was to put a door on the big open space in the front. Tim and Kellen walled of about half the space and then created a sliding door for the rest. This large door gives us easy access to the space, and can be used to allow chickens access to the pasture on that side. The existing door on the right gives them access to another pasture.
There are no windows in this building, but the rough board style of the sides plus roof vent give plenty of ventilation. We covered the roof vents with chicken wire for predator protection.
We lined the bottom of the walls with old feed bags. This was partially for a wind break for any remaining cold nights, and partially a predator protection. It may seem like over kill. The boards are pretty close together, and a feed bag isn't a lot of protection, but it made me feel better. Last summer, we literally had raccoon reach into chicken wire pens to pull parts of chickens through the wire, and pull young chickens legs through rabbit wire. Gruesome, I know, but reality.
The building is now serviceable, though we do have a couple more things to do before it is complete. We'd like to run electric out to it. (Currently using a heavy duty extension cord.) We need to add some roosts. Since this building is intended for broilers, roosts will simply be 2x4s a few inches off the floor. They won't roost high, but giving them a low roost helps to keep them clean and healthy.
I'd like to cover the divider in wire so I can again separate the building. The small side could be used for brooding when the weather permits.
If we want to be able to rotate the pastures, we will need to do some fencing work. The current fencing is not sufficient to keep chickens in one pasture only.
We put about 140 chickens in there a few days ago. I let them out for the first time today. I love watching chicks on their first day out. They seem to be utterly fascinated by the big world out there, not to mention the tasty bugs and grass! I think this set up will work well for the broilers!