A New Home for the Baby Chicks

by Amy Stafford on May 2, 2012

The chicks are three weeks old now and have more than doubled in size.  They were really tired of living in their tiny brooder and would stop and stare at me anytime I walked past.  Let me tell you it sent chills down my spine to have 10 tiny chicks freeze and give me the stink eye at once!

As you may know I have a chick hutch that has a squatter living in it at night.  Foghorn is not allowed in the coop at night, so says Houdini, therefore he sleeps in the hutch.

I didn’t want to buy another so I had asked a few people I know who have chickens if they had one I could borrow.  No luck!  So, I got creative or as my husband says, you went hillbilly.  Whatever!

This was my master plan.  I asked a friend if I could borrow her dog crate that she is not using.  This would be the new living quarters.  I lined the bottom with cardboard from some boxes I had left over from Costco, and topped that with shavings.  I used a couple of dowel rods for perches.  Now the little girls had a much bigger home, with better air circulation and it was FREE! Plus, no more stink eye.

That part of the new home was easy!

The hard part was building a small outdoor run for the chicks to be able to go into during the day.  Plus this would serve as a safe way to allow a greet and meet when its time to add the new girls to the current flock.  Allowing the Senior girls to check out the Freshman girls without blood shed.  We have all been there!!

I knew that we had saved the poles from the grape arbor that we had torn out earlier this spring and I thought we could re-use that lumber to build the run.  I counted out the 2 x 4 and we had enough with just a few cuts with a hand saw to build the frame for the run.

I asked my son Jacob if he would help me build it on Sunday.  Being the wonderfully brilliant child that he is he agreed and immediately came up with a better plan than I had.  He informed me that the 2 x 4 that I had would be fine for the “bottom and top” of the run but that using 2 x 4 for the support or the “walls” would not offer enough support.  He explained that because of the weight and length we would need something more substantial so that the structure wouldn’t wobble and fall apart. Especially when moving it from one location to another.

Is he smart, or what!!

No problem we just had to pull out the 4 x 4 that had been the support polls for the grape arbor.

Now we had all our supplies,

  • 6 – 2 x 4
  • 2 – 4 x 4
  • Deck Screws
  • Chicken Wire
  • Hand Saw
  • Table Saw
  • Drill
  • Deck Screws
  • Staple Gun
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil

With our supplies laid out and our plan in place I happily handed Jacob the reigns to the project and acted as assistant and photographer.

Because of the thickness of the 4 x 4  Jacob had to use our table saw.  He measured out 3′ and cut each pole twice ending with a total of 4 – 3′ sections.

The rest of the cutting Jacob could do with a hand saw.

We kept 4 of the 2 x 4 the length they already were for the length of the run and Jacob cut 2 of 2 x 4 in half for the sides.

We then laid out the wood and Jacob used the deck screws to connect the pieces

The procedure was the same to build the top frame.
Here is a picture of completed  floor frame
Jacob then connected the 4 x 4 in the corners.  I helped by pushing against the opposite side of the wood as he was screwing in to make sure there was no gaps.

Of course my brilliant child was correct, look at our sturdy structure.
Now all we needed to do was build a door frame and door for the chicks to go in and out.
About this time the husband meandered out of the house and started offering his opinion on how the doorway frame and door should be built.  I was quietly pushed aside to “only photographer status” at this point.
The boys decided that putting the door frame on the long side of the run made the most sense so they cut a board into two pieces long enough to secure on the inside of the frame.
Now if you have a teenager in your home this next line won’t surprise you.  Father and Son had a difference of opinion on how the door should be built, how the chicken wire should be secured and soon after this picture was taken, Father went back in the house and me and Jacob finished securing and cutting the chicken wire. ;)
Worrying about the door for later.
I had a few odd lengths of chicken wire left over from another project, but enough to cover the sides and top of the frame.  We secured it by using a staple gun and worked as a team with me sitting on the ground making sure the wire was straight and placing staples along the bottom, while Jacob would pull up on the wire to assure it was tight and stapling along the top.
Two hours later a run was built.  Jacob and I carried the frame over to where I am keeping the chicks and carried the chicks and their crate outside and gave them a chance to enjoy a day outside.
The dog crate sits right up against the opening and I can open the door for them to enter the run.
I cover the crate with towels, it lets them have a cool and safe place to hang out during the day.
Not pretty, but effective.
Then in the evening they go back in the crate I reach in shut the door and carry the crate back into the house to keep everyone safe for the night. Very simple and didn’t cost us a penny!
I have to say it was rather enjoyable to sit and watch the little ladies fly side to side and run around eating clover.  They were thrilled and Jacob and I felt pretty good about ourselves!
Each day I move the run so that they will be on fresh grass and none of our grass gets destroyed.
It was such a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon with my son and we worked well as a team!

check out that happy little girl in flight.

On a final note, about two hours after we put the girlie’s outside Jim was watching the chicks from the doorway when a hawk did a fly by.  A_ _ _ole!  But no worries this run is built to keep out predators, hawks, fox and dogs!

Jim said the girls immediately went on alert and they all ran directly into the dog crate!  Its amazing at 3 weeks they already know what to do when a predator comes around.  Of course it’s probably because my chicks are are so much smarter than average! :)

P.S- the door never got built, which is just as well, because it makes it easier for me to put the crate up against the run.  Maybe next Sunday.

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You can usually find me in my garden, the kitchen, at the gym or spending time with my family. I love sharing recipes, gardening and exercise tips and stories of my backyard chickens and beekeeping.
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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

jacob May 2, 2012 at 1:59 pm

wow im amazing

Reply

Aquaponic Family May 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Very nice! They have lots of room to run around and, if they’re anything like ours, jump on each other :-)

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AmySue May 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm

I do have one lady that loves to pounce. I think I have figured out which one it is too. Hope your chicks are doing well.

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Christie May 2, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Fantastic! We really, really, REALLY want one of these to fit over our raised garden beds. Instant soil processing via chicken power!

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AmySue May 2, 2012 at 5:04 pm

That is a Great idea! I have raised beds in my veggie garden too, I let the older gals in and let them go to town.

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Emma Sarah Tennant May 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Aw, those chicks look happy in their new home! Crack-a-lackin!

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Maggie May 2, 2012 at 6:52 pm

That is an excellent day run! Thanks for linking back to my article as well.

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AmySue May 2, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Your welcome, thanks for visiting.

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PJ Girl May 3, 2012 at 3:12 am

Good job! You’ll have lots of fun and they look so happy :-)

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AmySue May 3, 2012 at 6:49 am

They are and we are having fun watching them. Thanks.

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CurtissAnn May 3, 2012 at 8:39 am

Clever! I know your chicks love it. Thanks for sharing.

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AmySue May 6, 2012 at 7:39 pm

They really do! I think they are smiling all day long! :) Thanks for visiting!

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