The Word-Nerd’s Homestead – Fall 2021: Blog Edition #6 – New Brood Update & Grow-Out Pen Build

Welcome back to the Homestead, Happy Readers!

It’s taken a while to finish up my latest project so that I could blog about it as a whole. I sectioned off 1/2 of the chicken run to be used for a combo Grow-Out Pen & Breeding hutches. The hutches will be done before spring, but the grow-out section was needed for the new group of chickens that are now about 5 weeks old and getting a bit too big for the brooder.

Here’s a step-by-step of the build in pictures. Chicken pictures are at the end.

Grow-Out Pen Build

Starting out, I had to do a lot of digging to get a level spot for the runner boards because my pen is on such a steep slope. It is also slate-rock that is very very hard!

The forward section ended up being ‘level’ at about 18″ below the grade of the fence. That means I had to dig a bit of a drainage path that runs ‘under’ the hutch floor itself.

I decided to put the corner against the center post just to reduce the need for one riser. The pen is about 9′ wide at that point, so I have a 1′ gap next to the outside fence. This will probably be used for either storage, or I may add some external nest boxes to the upper portion which will be the coop for breeding in the spring.

I went with OSB board (4’x8′) due to the cost. I hope I don’t regret it long term. I’ll do my best to weather-proof it for longevity after I get the birds settled in good.

I had to jack up the outside edge to get things on a 1/4 bubble slant and keep the central shelf & top even.

I had an old kitchen cabinet face that I simply repurposed for the grow-out side of things. The right side is just some old pieces of plywood and cheap hinges.

I threw in some roosting poles with the consideration that this will be for 6 to 16 week old birds only. The top is only 3′ high, and the poles are about 2′ off the floor. They are made of scraps and left-overs.

Next up: The back side is a solid panel on hinges. The point of hinging it is so that I can open it and easily clean out the inside. As I write this, I realize I have made an oversight. It’s one piece, and I plan to split that side of the hutch into two sections. That means I’ll have to determine how to fold my divider as well. Oh well, adjust and adapt!

After that I needed a gate for the grow-out side. I had some old homemade window awnings that came off an old mobile home. I dismantled them and turned the aluminum angle into a door frame.

A slight hole drilled into the wood and a bolt hammered (carefully) into place served as the bottom hinge pin, while the original bolt and another piece of angle served as the top.

And viola… a door!

Next up is a central door post and top beam. I used scrap for this as well.

After more scrounging, I found a bunch of PVC lattice buried in the leaves. I felt like I hit the lottery! Anyway, I used several pieces here because it it rot-proof! I threw a homemade latch on the bottom and now I can open/close/lock it with a foot.

A few pieces of wire and the main grow-out run is closed off!

As a temporary close-off, I threw one of the full PVC lattice sheets up on the top section and some other scrap on gap side. It’s just temporary because I will replace it when I finish the top part of the hutch for the breeding coops.

I scraped up all the saw-dust from the shop and threw it on the floor.

Now it’s a Chicken Bar!

I kludged together some door latches for the front. All four door will open, but I the far right one is screwed down unless I need it.

The very last step was to drill some vent holes and add in my brooder light. I also put my temperature switch (not shown) inline so that they don’t get too hot.

Now we get to the part you probably really want to see….

CHICKENS!

The 12 new chickens in the brooder before the transfer.

Little birds on the roots in the new crib.

As we got them ready to transport, I took some pictures of the gender & breed makeup.

All of them are some mix of French Wheaton Maran, Blue Laced Red Wyandotte or Buff Orpington. I determined that I have the following…

7 FWM Roos, 3 FWM Hens, <— still could be mixed, but the combs and feathered feet are presenting as FWM.

1 BLRW Roo, 1 BLRW Hen <— possible that they are Buff Orpington cross instead of FWM

Pictures of each type are below.

French Wheaton Maran Roo
French Wheaton Maran Hen (she turned her head right as I snapped the shot, so the comb is hard to see)
Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Roo – flat comb, no feathers on feet, larger leg diameter than FWM:
Note, I could be wrong about the cross and this could be a Buff Orpington/BLRW cross
Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Hen – flat comb, not as pronounced, no feathers on feet: similarly, might be Orpington cross

So, the latest batch of chickens, my 1st self-hatched brood, is now in new Grow-Out Coop and will be getting acquainted with their parent flock in the coming weeks. I’ll take pics and post updates when I can.

Thanks for reading!

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