Monday, 10 December 2012

Making an isolation pen for a chicken...

When I only had three or four chickens, I had no problems. They seemed to live long and lay eggs. What more could you want? As I added to my flock, I found that I was introducing diseases and parasites that my original chickens simply didn't suffer from. First up was scaly mite. Easily treated by painting the legs with tea tree oil.
Then came the red mites. The poor chookies were itching and scratching their little beaks shorter and shorter I swear. Again not so hard to treat. I wait till they've gone to bed for the night and pluck them off the perch one at a time and dust them with lice powder. In the morning, I clean out the coop, give it a good scrub and dust in there and the laying boxes as well.

The worms gave me a fright! Scary looking things and I think that's what shuffled one of my babies of her mortal perch. These i ended up dealing with by soaking bread in the worming mixture and throwing it out to the chookies who gobbled up both the bread a a daily dose of worm-acide.

This time though, it seems one of my older chookies has picked up a respiratory infection. All my research indicates that its contagious and so she needs to be isolated. Hard when you have all your chookies penned up for greater parts of the day. And so a small quick manoeuvrable pen needed to be built...

Here's what I did...

I had a friend with this frame thing sitting around in his backyard and though I could use it for a potting bench and bought it home with me.

Turned on its side and laid down flat it was a good size for a small chookie pen. I grabbed about 20m of chicken wire from the dump shop for $5 and the teenager and I spent 20 minutes covering four sides with it.

I had a piece of this pool fencing that fitted the end perfectly (left over from the bottom of the stair to stop the dog going up when he got old) as a gate. I left the bottom open so they can scratch around and eat the grass.
I used cable ties to put it altogether - not the most environmentally friendly solution but quick, strong and convenient!

Cable tie hinges!

I plan to use this pen to introduce new chickens to the flock, to raise babies till they are big enough as well as to separate out chickens from the others when they are sick. It will move around the yard, be able to go into the pen so the babies can see the big chooks but not be bullied by them until they get big enough to defend themselves!

When making a pen like this, water is a big issue. I wanted Storm to drink the medicated stuff and so I put in a tall jar filled with water (for weight) and then slid a small container of medicated water in the top. I raised the water up to make it easier for her to drink. I could have wired the small container to the side of the pen but this way its easier to replenish each day with fresh antibiotics.  (You can see it in the top photo in the corner of the pen)

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 to reuse and recycle second hand stuff.
Frugal-ness: 5/5 $5 is pretty cheap to build a whole new pen. (still got 16 metres of chook wire for other projects too!)
Time cost: About 30 minutes all up!
Skill level: Wire cutting and cable tie-ing as well as a bit of parcel wrapping skills are all you need.
Fun -ness: More releif than fun to be able to separate her out and make sure she his taking the antibiotics. I don't think she thinks its fun at all though!

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