This post is to answer 2 questions from Willow Creek Farm.
Lets start with egg production. My 5 hens laid 5 eggs every day all through the fall, When the days got shorter and colder some days I would get 4 eggs, even an occasional 3. My father-in-law grew up on a farm, dairy cows, chickens and horses to do the work before they got a tractor. He rolls his eyes when we tell him what we are doing for our chickens. I think he likes that we have them. He told me that they would bring out hot water for the chickens in the winter so egg production would stay up.
I have a light bulb under my waterer in the coop to keep the water from freezing. With this cold spell I put in a 100 watt bulb under the waterer to add a little heat to the coop. The water in the waterer is quite warm and my ladies for the past 11 days have had 3 days where they laid 4 eggs each day and 8 days where they laid 5 eggs each day. They are drinking a lot more water from the heated waterer because it is now their only source. Everything else is frozen.
So, are my ladies laying more because of the hot water??
I designed and built my coop. I looked at a lot of designs on “backyardchickens.com” and visited 3 coops in the area. I borrowed ideas from everyone. The outside nesting boxes, the water heater, the coop on stilts, the sliding up coop-run door, the wire floor with removable boards, so the poop would fall under the coop and there would be less cleaning of the coop (this idea didn’t work), the recycled dog run for the run and many more I borrowed. The 2 foot over hanging roof in the front and over the nesting boxes so I don’t get wet when it is raining, the feeder, the recycled swimming pool metal for the roofing material were some of my ideas. I love my coop. Is it perfect?? NO. And we are still making little changes to it. The ladies call it home and I think they are very safe in it.
There is a ———-well we call it a bridge that connects the coop to the run. A covered bridge and a 2 X 6 ramp with cleats for the chickens to walk up and down. This is the best picture in my file of the bridge and ramp. If you click on the picture it should enlarge.
Two stories, one about the ramp and one about the bridge.
My wife thought the ramp was too steep for the ladies. She was right, the first time they slid down the ramp wings-a-flapping. So I roughed up the surface with a carving bit in a router. This worked quite well till we got our first freezing rain on it. Slip-sliding-away with their wing-a-flapping. So I put cleats on the ramp.
I was showing the coop to a neighbor one afternoon and demonstrating the coop-run door. I left the door down. After it got dark I went out to say good night and the coop was empty. Where are my chickens?? They were all squished into the bridge. They were done for the day. I had to push them into the coop they weren’t going on their own. I felt real bad. With years of therapy, they’ll be alright.