Although American Guinea Hogs (AGH) are hardy little critters, and although the area inside their enclosure is riddled with shade trees, I knew they'd need a permanent shelter in which they can avoid inclement weather. Also, although our winters are moderate compared to many areas of the United States, when the cold arrives, they'll need a place to huddle beneath the straw for warmth, and a place to farrow in comfort.
So I set out to find a plan for construction. I located numerous plans online, even printing a few, before choosing to take what I liked from some, made some modifications (in my mind), developed a materials list, and headed to the hardware store for lumber and such.
As is usually the case, I grossly underestimated my cost and eventually wound up spending in the neighborhood of $700. Ouch. But at least there is now a hog house that should last for years (I hope). I'm no carpenter by any stretch of the imagination, but working mostly alone (though my grandson Tomas was an excellent helper, handing PawPaw exactly one screw at a time, and both Cory and Patti were great help at times when I couldn't install boards too long to handle, or do the roofing by myself), I managed to complete the house in a little more than two full days, including trips to the store.
What follows is a complete photo gallery illustrating each step of the way. Questions? Email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be happy to answer them.
Click HERE if the embedded video above doesn't play.
The brooder box we built several years ago (instructions here) is terrific for babies when they are small, holding well over a hundred for several weeks. But when the young'uns begin to feather out, it's time to move them out and into a more spacious environment.
In the past, we have used the goat stall pictured at the top of this page for a sort of "finishing" area for the little chicks and turkeys, but in wrapping it with protective wire we typically did so in a more temporary manner. Once the chickens were allowed to range freely and the goats gained access to the stall once again, the protective wire didn't last long at all. So we decided to do it differently this time, attaching the wire on the outside of all but one of the four walls, away from the goats who will, once again, eventually have access to the stall.
My daddy always told me that having the proper tools was the first step toward doing a good job, and boy was he right. Using a stapler powered by an air compressor made quick work of covering the stall with chicken wire down low and 2X4 welded wire above that, and the 1/2" long staples ensure that the wire is there to stay. By the way, we put chicken wire around the bottom for two reasons: 1) the chicks could possibly still squeeze through 2X4 openings if they were really determined, and 2) chicken wire will make it a little more difficult for predators to climb. At least we hope it will.
darker feathers served as a cutting guide
We made sure to trim one of each chicken's and turkey's wings to keep them grounded. If you trim both, they can still fly. Although the stall is mostly enclosed, there are some openings high on the walls, and we don't want the little rascals getting any ideas. Better safe than sorry, you know?
By the end of the afternoon, the new tenants had moved in. They weren't thrilled at first, which is always the case after moving young birds from the comfort of their cozy brooder. But it won't be long until they are ruling the roost in their new quarters.
Below is the accompanying video of the process:
And here is the YouTube link for those who can't view the embedded video:
~ Tommy A.
So I've been suffering from a beastly sinus infection for a solid week. I finally broke down and went to the Doctor a couple of days ago, several days after I should've been there (it's a "man" thing). During the visit, my doctor was excited for me to try a nasal spray that contained a brand new combination of medications, including a "sure fire" antihistamine, with which he had experienced personal success in whipping symptoms similar to mine.
I like my doctor, so I agreed to give it a try...and I haven't slept since. Ok, I've slept a little, but not much: I may have gotten four hours of real sleep in the last 48. Whew.
That might explain why, as I tossed and turned at 2AM this morning, I kept coming up with the same burning question: "How would baby chickens & turkeys react to an iPhone in their brooder box?" Such questions demand an answer, and here it is:
Here is the link to the video on YouTube: click this---> "Chick Flick"
~ Tommy A.
Of all our YouTube videos, the one with the most views (twice as many as the next closest) demonstrates a simple method of tightening 2X4 welded wire fencing. In fact, the last time I searched YouTube for "how to tighten fence," this video was in the number one spot in the non-sponsored search results. Here it is, for your viewing pleasure:
My encouragement to you here, if you are a blogger, is this: don't assume your tip is too simple to share! There are plenty of folks out there who can benefit from your knowledge, and who are hungry for it, however simple it may seem to you. And remember this: there was a time when you didn't know how to do what you now know how to do! Aren't you glad someone shared their knowledge with you? ;-)
So, what "simple" tip can you share with the world? Someone out there needs to know...they're just waiting for you to show them!
Our 4' X 4' homemade brooder box is made from 2 sheets of 3/4" OSB, 2' lengths of scrap 2X4's, a scrap piece of 2X4 welded wire fence, some scrap pieces of 1X2 lumber (lotta "scraps," huh?), and a handful of deck screws.
The bottom of the box is a full half of one of the sheets of OSB, and the sides are made from the remainder of the OSB, cut into 2' X4' pieces.
The 2' 2X4's are placed in the corners, and the sides are screwed to the 2X4's. The sides are not secured to the bottom - the whole contraption just sits on the bottom piece, and is plenty heavy enough to stay in place.
We wrapped the 2X4 welded wire fence around a 1X4 on opposite sides of the fence, allowing us to pull it across the top of the box to make the fence semi-tight. We drilled screws into the upper end of the 2X4 corner braces, and lock the fence in place over the screws. And we used one more scrap 1X4 as a brace for the heat lamp across the center of the box.
Screwing the box together has allowed us to easily assemble, disassemble, and reassemble with ease for several years. When not in use, the pieces are slid behind a tool cabinet in our storage shed, hardly taking up space at all. Pretty handy.
The bedding consists of one full bale of compressed pine shavings. Years ago, someone told us of the "sanitizing" nature of pine shavings, and our experience has borne that out. In fact, we don't expect to have to change this bedding until these chicks are ready to move out. Instead, we will occasionally stir the pine shavings thoroughly using a 4-pronged rake. Believe it or not, even with 50 or 60 chicks in there, the smell is only faint if one is diligent to stir the pine shavings at regular intervals (weekly at this point, every couple of days as the chicks get bigger).
Again, this may be the last brooder box we ever need, as we have every expectation that we will be using it years from now (only replacing the fence on top, perhaps).
Here is the link to an accompanying video, with more detailed images --> Click This.
~ Tommy Alderman