So, this is kind of how it has gone....
We had three rabbits and two small cages (3' X 3' X 3'). That worked until we had our first baby rabbits born and suddenly we had to put daddy rabbit in our old dog kennel temporarily. The search and planning HAD TO begin. I was making calls to check wiring prices and surfing the internet to plan making our cages. Ultimately, I got an "easy button" on that one. I found someone locally that was selling cages for cheaper than I could build homemade ones. We were able to purchase two sections of caging with five caging areas in each (also referred to as a "five hole"). Rabbit caging problem solved. Also, at some point we have adopted some lop rabbits (one for free and then, added the other three for $30 complete with cages, etc.), so we also have some other small cages here.
We decided to try out having chickens and we ventured off to the feed supply store with no idea how many we were coming home with. I thought a couple chicks would be good. I asked my husband and he said a dozen. With little thought I basically just got two of each breed that was available that day and that made it ten little chicks. We brought them home and put them in ONE of our first cages we had used for the rabbits (3x3x3). We knew we needed a coop, but we did not have one ready, yet. As the chicks started growing they were getting very crowded, so we put the two cages together to form one cage. I went to planning, again. And I want to share a link with you that is great for seeing a huge variety of options and plans for housing chickens. It is www.backyarchickens.com . Being that we live in town I wanted to go simple. I did not want to build a big coop and find that we had to get rid of the chickens later. I decided on building more of a temporary chicken run that we could later add to. So, I had my little plan all sketched out until I ran an errand one night and drove past a furniture store that had some large wooden frames (used for shipping couches, etc.) out by their dumpster. I told Cody and he hitched up the utility trailer to the van and went to look. He agreed that we could make it work and brought it home. We were able to attach the frame pieces together and cover it all with wire for a very simply, but efective chicken run with a nesting area. Now that we know that chickens work well for us we are planning to build a better coop this summer. Meanwhile, they are continuing to enjoy their chicken run (approximate size is 6' X 10'). They free range during the day and spend their nights in their run.
So, as Spring approached we decided to add a few more chicks. I went to see what was available and came home with six more chicks and four ducklings. Again, we used the little cages (3x3x3). One has the six chicks and the other has the 4 ducklings. And this is why I am writing this post. Those four ducklings are growing very fast!!! And guess who did not plan on that?!!! I am trying to figure out what the solution is for them. I was thinking that we would give them the chicken run and the chickens would have their new coop, but it is not going to be able to wait until Summer. And the six chicks will be needed room soon as well. I think we will end up having to make another smaller temporary pen of some sort for the ducklings.
And I must add that I have tiny chicks in a smaller cage in the house. I wanted to add Aracaunas to our flock, so I was thinking of ordering those until I found out our feed store had some scheduled to arrive. We anxiously awaited those and when they were in we got six Aracaunas (one drowned in the water, so we have five) and two other chicks. So, we have stages of fowl that need proper caging and no definite plan. LOL! It will all work out, but I have got to get on it!
My thoughts are mainly on the ducklings. I have no idea really what is the best solution for them. Maybe once they are grown they won't even need their own caging. They might be able to just join the chickens in their housing. I mean, now that I think about it I have never heard anyone talk about their "duck coop". LOL! It is all a learning process and I really did not consider too much about it on the day we bought the ducks. I'm smart like that! ;)
Since this post is about Animal Housing and not just the feathered friends we have, I want to include that this past Fall (2011) we were given two male goats. We had the idea that they would just join in with our two dogs (rat terriers) in their pen. That pen is very large... I am guessing that it is 12' X 20' and has three dog houses in it. That space was fine. I would suggest having more space for goats, but they would have been fine in that much space. We decided to get rid of them because they made it stinky. We could walk out the back door and it smelled like a livestock barn. I asked the neighbors and they said they did not smell it, but I am sure it was just a matte of time before they would have. It was yuck! I don't think this would have been an issue with females, but once the males hit maturity the odor began.
These are our "bigger chicks". They are approximately 4 weeks old. We took them out to have a chance to free range a bit under our close watch. We won't do that much as they hard to catch.
These are the "baby chicks"... Buff Orpingtons are the yellow.... Aracaunas are the brown.
These are the "baby chicks" in their caging in our house. They almost made it one week in here, but today I moved them out. The weather is forecasted to be in the 80s with no rain. We were having flood situations when these little gals came home with us, so in the interest of their survival I put them indoors.
Our ducklings in the 3x3x3 caging and under a tarp due to flash flood weather. They like this little nesting box, but they outgrew it within a week.
The nesting box also proved to be a place that there poop could accumulate. Yuk! These birds are super messy and they require that their cage be washed down about every other day.
Stinking birds... I mean, sweet little ducklings...
These are the 3x3x3 cages on the simple stands we made out of 2x4 boards. These cages are not glamorous, but they were $10 each and we had the lumber to build the stands. These cages have served us well and have been very useful for muliple purposes. We even had a rescued squirrel in one for a while. Also, the flooding issue has made a fine mess and quite a stinky situation. This is not normal, so it usually looks a little better than this. The tarps were necessary for the excessive rain even though the rain still got these poor little birds. They look pretty sad after that storm. They are all better now. If you look close you can see one of our adult Barred Rocks under the cage.
This has nothing to do with "housing", but this is the first time our ducks got to play in the water. We had a "pond-like backyard" due to the flooding.
These are the "Bigger Chicks". We had placed them in this cage to carry them to an area that was suitable to test them out with free ranging. The orange ones are New Hampshire Reds. The two speckled ones toward the bottom are Barred Rocks. We already have two adult Barred Rocks and I liked them so much that I added two more to our flock. Not sure this was wise, though. One of these little ones keeps trying to peck me! The two other black chicks pictures are Silver Wyandottes.