Musical Coops

It’s getting to be that time of the year when we start moving chickens to the barn for the winter. Chickens are such creatures of habit, so it’s always a little difficult getting them trained to go to the barn at night. We usually start out by confining the ones we move to a room for a few weeks until they get used to the idea that it’s their new home. Once the few weeks are up, we turn them loose to free range. If they go back to the barn at night, they are considered successfully trained. If they go back to their old coop, it means we have to chase them around in the dark with flashlights and carry them back to the barn. We lock them up for a few more days and try it all again until they learn to go to the barn.

In the barn there are two chicken rooms. We have two roosters, Rainbow and Nevel, that each claims a room. At night, each rooster goes to his room and the hens divide themselves between them. Nevel went to the fair back in July and once he returned, he decided he didn’t want to live in the barn and moved to the coop by the house and started hanging with new hens. When we bought some guinea keets, we put them in Nevel’s room since he wasn’t using it. Shortly after we got the keets, we bought some Cornish cross meat bird chicks and put them in the same room. The hens that lived in Nevel’s room had to start bunking in with Rainbow’s crew at night, and still do, so they’re all a little crowded at night. They sure do complain about it every single night, but hopefully soon, we’ll get them all shuffled around so they will all be back where they need to be.

The guineas and meat bird chicks all got big enough to out run the cats so we let the guineas loose to free range…

We put the meat birds and the turkeys in the coop up by the house….

They now free range…

Along with Nevel…

Last spring we bought some hens to add to our laying crew and a group of pan fryers to butcher, which were living in the coop we moved the meat birds to. The majority of the pan fryers ended up being roosters, which is fine since we plan to butcher them sometime soon. They all grew up and started creating a ton of ruckus around here, chasing hens, arguing, squawking, and bickering… and they were always doing it on the porch. They had the whole place to chase hens and settle their disagreements… but no, it had to be on the porch. It drove me crazy. So the roosters are now living in Nevel’s old room in the barn until we can find time to butcher them…

The hens that were in that coop are living in with Brooke’s breeding project, Mr. Wuffles and his group…

This upsets Nevel because some of those hens are his. So every morning he goes to the door of Mr. Wuffles’ coop and complains. We can’t put him in with them because he will breed Mr. Wuffles’ hens and we can’t turn Nevel’s hens loose because they will go back to their old coop at night. Once the pan fryer roosters are butchered, we’ll move Nevel and his hens to the barn so he will once again be back in his room with his own little groupie. The turkeys will probably be butchered at the time the pan fryers are, which will be any day now. The meat birds will be ready for butchering in a month or so.

Whew!  Keeping chickens organized sure does get complicated but things will be easier as soon as butchering day arrives.

 Once our freezer is stocked full of chicken for the winter,

we’ll clean out the coop by the house.

It will sit empty through the winter until spring,

when it will be filled with baby chicks once again.


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