Chicken arrival!

So our chicken plans have actually happened!

We are all tremendously excited and so are many of our friends.

Many chickens!
One chicken, two chicken, three chicken, more…

Let’s tell this story in order.

Second-hand saves money and the environment

We have been lucky enough to source nearly everything second-hand for our chicken arrangements.

It can be a bit tricky buying second-hand coops. Lack of maintenance can result in wooden coops being rotten or damaged. There is also the risk that the coop comes with mites for free, which would be an awful start.

As I say, we were very lucky as we found a seller only a few miles away who was looking to rehome an Eglu Cube with lots of extras.

We bought and paid for

  • an Eglu Cube with stand and wheels
  • a total of 4 metres of fixed run
  • 12 metres of Omlet chicken fencing
  • a chicken keeping book

As we had purchased nearly everything chicken related they were selling, they very kindly threw in

  • 1 “grub” feeder
  • 3 “glug” water holders
  • 4 metres of ground control mesh
  • a tub of feed
  • half a bag of grit and a grit feeder
  • some extra covers they were no longer using
  • delivery

This was an outstanding bargain for us as we paid in total less than the cost of the Eglu Cube with the stand and wheels alone (had we purchased it new).

It looked like a giant puzzle laid out on our back lawn once delivered. Not a single chicken in sight yet – but we had made plans with a local poultry breeder to meet on the Sunday. This gave us only a few days to get things in order.

A disassembled chicken coop and run on our lawn.
Chicken coop and run, awaiting assembly.

Ready, steady, chicken, build.

The Eglu Cube manual says to allow 2 hours and I think if it was fair weather from new, that would be about right.

As everything was second-hand it didn’t arrive neatly boxed. The Cube itself was half assembled for ease of delivery and this meant I actually had to disassemble the side walls in order to bolt on the fixed run again. I had to soak and clean many clips which were caked with mud from prior use.

The 2 hours doesn’t include anything extra to the main kit. In my case this meant that on top of this I had to

  • fit another 2 separate metres worth of fixed run extension
  • jet wash the ground control mesh
  • position everything
  • plan and fit the Omlet chicken fencing
  • securely block off the side of the fixed run against the fence where the chicken fencing didn’t cover
  • and finally some minor cleaning and repairs

So of course, it rained and was bitterly cold the entire time!

Cleaning

Everything arrived in good worn condition, which for me means that there were some marks from long term use, and some sun bleaching to the plastic in places. The only thing that needed serious cleaning was the waterproof cover, which was thrown in free of charge.

It clearly had been stored folded outside long enough to get thoroughly green with algae. Here’s a picture taken of an edge seam after I had washed the whole thing in a hot bath for half an hour.

Clear plastic with green algae.
Ew.

Most of the algae washed off really easily. Some areas needed more encouragement so I employed a trusty nailbrush and some soap to get those off.

The worst bits were the seams at the edges, where the water had pooled in the fold. For this troublesome area I used the nailbrush and soap again, scrubbing vigorously along every edge of the cover – twice. Once on each side.

Scrubbed and clean cover.
You wouldn’t think this was the same cover.

It was a bit of effort but I was rewarded at the end with a perfectly functional waterproof cover. All the work was definitely worth it.

Moral of this part of the story? Some dirt comes off. Maybe think again before discarding items that just need a bit of elbow grease applying.

Cleaned up cover.
Functional now clean!

Repair

There was a small split in the bottom of the chicken nesting box. This was the only repair I needed to consider.

Damaged plastic.
Small split in the nesting box.

I opted to ‘tank’ the nesting box entirely as my first choice repair.

Weapons of choice? Sticky backed plastic and seriously heavy duty repair tape.

Sticky backed plastic ahoy.
Can you tell that I used to watch Blue Peter?

It’s not the neatest work I’ve ever done with sticky backed plastic, I’ll grant you that. In my defence it was raining solidly the whole day so I had to put the lid on and half crawl inside the chicken coop to be able to work in anything approximating “dry conditions”.

I also used the tape to cover any edges or cuts in the sticky backed plastic to hopefully avoid the underneath of the plastic becoming a paradise for chicken mites. Plenty of dusting with diatomaceous earth will also take place.

First and hopefully last attempt to repair a split nesting box.
Finished. Every chicken is a star.

It’s about more than just a chicken coop and run

To start with, the chicken coop and fixed run are close to a fence. There’s a wicked wind that comes down the hill we live on and sitting them here puts them in the lee of the fence.

The fixed run gives them food, water, shelter from the rain, wind, sun and any predators that might happen by.  We have enriched the fixed run with

  • a broom handle perch under the coop
  • some branch perches wedged from side to side
  • twigs and leaves for scratching and foraging
  • a wire suspended feeder for treats like cut up apples and watermelon
  • supplementary wooden ramp (gifted to us by another former chicken owner) to go over the ladder (as some of our chickens have little legs)

As time goes by we may add some bark chippings as well.

Fixed chicken run with chickens.
Our chicken run – with chickens!

The chicken fencing gives the girls about another 8 metres of run, importantly with the ability to scratch and dig as there is no ground control mesh. We built a foraging heap with old twigs, leaves and branches. There are other appropriate bits of wood and perch areas. Soon their grit pot will be out there too.

Our chickens made a bee-line for the bottom of the fence panel, where the concrete kickboard is. They were digging it out happily – I think they will make their dustbath there.

Chickens in their foraging area.
Our chickens in their foraging area.

Stay tuned

I will have more chicken stories to share with you soon.

There will also be lots of lovely photos and updates once they have settled in.

For the record, so far I really love the Omlet Eglu Cube and the fixed run. Even second-hand, everything went together smoothly. And even although we have a 4 metre run, I can still move the whole lot myself, without much effort at all, and everything is solid. I’m not at all worried about anything to do with the coop or run, which is exactly as you would want it.

Full disclosure: Omlet don’t yet even know I have a Cube, because we got ours second-hand, so they definitely haven’t asked me to say nice things about them or their stuff. The link above is not even an affiliate link. I just really think the product is good.

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