As I have mentioned in recent posts, the chook house is now being occupied. We put the chooks in their new home over a week ago and kept them inside the coop entirely for the first few days. As we did not have the chook run constructed at this time, we figured that this would be for the best plus they could get used to this being their new home. It was lots of "fun" capturing the chooks to put them in. Particularly Rusty, as he does not like being caught and is very good at evading capture these days (fox attacks probably have this kind of impact on chooks).
We changed the colour of the paint on the outside of the nest boxes. Although I preferred the original colour, it absorbed too much heat. The new sandy desert colour is significantly cooler. Since we want the chooks to lay as opposed to bake, I figured that colour co-ordination was much less important. In case anyone is wondering why we even considered the darker colour in the first place, it was mistinted paint at half price. We thought it might be too dark and it was. Thankfully the new colour was free, compliments of Mr HHH.
The person door (820 mm wide) was acquired from our local transfer station. As the chook door frame width is only 600 mm, the door had to be cut down to size along the bottom and on one side. It is a hollow door, so I used a very old can of expanding foam to fill in the two cut sides. So while it looks like there should be more door, it works just fine.
The two chook doors were constructed in a similar fashion to the nest box lids, with fibre cement on the outside and ply on the inside. The doors have gate latches on them so that they lock securely when closed. Actually the nice thing about them is that they are large enough for even me to fit through. This has already been handy when we put up a temporary divider within the coop as I did not want the chickens to "own the place". I was stuck on the other side of the divider and exited through the chook door (ever so gracefully of course).
We also made a perch and a perch-type access to their nest boxes. The two perches were made from a feral Jacaranda tree; while it is not as good as a camphor laurel timber, one less feral tree is still a good thing. Now the sad thing is that they are not using their nest boxes, nor their perch. They are big birds and I guess it does take them time to adjust to new things, but they could appreciate the handy work a bit more now couldn't they?! We got three eggs on the second day, so even though they are laying on the floor, this has not impacted their output. Thanks girls.
The remaining coop to-do items are weather strips over the two chook doors, installation of the guttering and down piping, attaching siding along the western roof edge for greater stormy weather protection, and a permanent divider between the two parts of the chook shed.
It is worth noting that in the construction of the chook shed, a significant portion of the materials were recycled. Some of the recycled material used was the roofing iron, roofing channels, ply wood, doors, sisalation, metal strapping, guttering, 6 mm fibre cement, nails, wood piers, tension rod, and some of the roofing screws. The new materials used were screws, hinges, door latch, cement, compressed fibre sheeting for the floor, most of the framing wood, some of the paint, and silicone sealant. So I am pleased that this project has helped to reduce some of the waste which could have ended up in landfill.
By the way, if anyone has any suggestions on a name for the chook coop, please post it in the comments.