In May we built a reconfigurable chicken house to hold our new flock of chicks. Since we planned to build a moving rig for it, we located this mini-coop near our back porch for convenience. (Bad idea.) Unfortunately, the summer progressed and I hadn’t finished my moving rig, half the chickens (the “victims”) were relocated to a temporary pen in the garden where they could recover from the Lakenvelder attacks, and it became obvious that we needed to build another coop in the actual chicken pen.
The original reconfigurable house (the “mini-coop”) had a solid floor, fully enclosed walls with removable screen doors, and was designed as a multipurpose structure: chick brooding, deep-litter roosting house for layers, or (with the center panel removed) as goose housing.
This new reconfigurable house (the “range shelter”) is designed to hold the feed, water, and nesting boxes. If needed, it could also act as a feeding station for sheep. The range shelter was built to the same dimensions as the mini-coop, but features a bolted-together frame of posts and beams. The back panel is plywood, as are small sections on the ends and front to provide shear strength. In keeping with it’s “reconfigurable” design, there are a total of six separate C.R.A.P. rails on the structure: two at each end on the inside, two at each end on the outside, and two in the middle.
The range shelter was cheaper, lighter, and faster to build than the mini-coop. It has a metal roof just like the mini-coop, but to keep things simple it’s not removable. Temporarily, we attached scrap boards to the ends and some scrap fencing to the front so we could lock the “victim” chickens in it until they got used to their new view. We also added a small section of roosts so they could practice roosting. The roosts are held up by mounts that hang from the C.R.A.P. rails.
I’m writing this post about 6 weeks after the events described (it’s been busy around here lately). The “victims” chickens spent a few days locked in the range shelter, and then we opened it up and let them free range. The pen to the right of the range shelter in the next picture housed new victims of the Lakenvelders. We eventually had to squeeze all 7 female Lakenvelders in there, leaving the 8 violent males locked in the mini-coop. The Lakenvelder females have since been integrated into the “victims” flock and are also free ranging.
After all the turmoil, the original “victims” were the first to free range, so it didn’t turn out that bad for them. Despite their weeks and weeks in captivity due to our poor planning and busy summer, they quickly adapted to running through the tall grass, eating bugs and seeds.