Hens on the balcony, or How I made a chicken coop in an apartment
Once, when I was visiting friends, I accidentally went out onto the balcony of their apartment on the tenth floor of a seventeen-story building in the city center and was almost taken aback - with a dozen neat cages were placed on top of each other. Of course, it was not the cells themselves that surprised me, but their inhabitants. They turned out to be ... hens! Yes, yes, the most ordinary chickens! As I managed to find out a little later, the owners kept them for more than a year, because they were obsessed with healthy nutrition and environmentally friendly products. In this regard, the eggs from the balcony hens occupied the menu of this family is not the last place. The hens were carried in working order, which allowed the owners to even sell part of the laid eggs to neighbors.
Why I decided to get chickens on the balcony
I did not go into details and any nuances of keeping chickens on the balcony. First, it was necessary to somehow digest for himself the fact of what he saw. Hens in the city! Up to this point, I could not even imagine that this is possible in principle. Nonsense! And if someone had told me that in a year I would be interested in the topic of keeping chickens at home, I myself would have just laughed in the face.
But now, a year has passed. It just so happened that for some time I was left without work. He sat at home, counting every penny. In the refrigerator - a rolling ball. It was in those days that the thought came to my mind to try to get chickens in my own apartment. At least I will not die of hunger, there will always be a fresh testicle to the table, I reasoned.
In addition, he believed that breeding chickens in a small amount was a simple matter. Nothing, in fact, is required of you. He fenced off a corner, stocked up food for his layers, and then only know for yourself - collect eggs. You want to eat them yourself, but there will be surpluses, and you can sell them.
How I built a chicken coop in the corner of the loggia
With the allocation in the apartment of a place for a mini-chicken coop, I did not see a problem. I had a rather spacious glazed loggia, a third of which could be completely reserved for a useful business.
I immediately imagined how I would block it with a grating from some kind of netting netting, having arranged a small door in this partition. Then it remains to put there a feeder, a bowl of water, after which you can safely run the hens into the pen. I could only sit in a chair and “smoke bamboo”, waiting for the first eggs from them, as a reward for their righteous labors.
Perhaps it was the fact that this matter from the outside seemed quite simple to me, and pushed me to implement the idea with the chicken coop. I did not postpone it in a long box. True, I did not find the chain-links in hardware stores near the house (for the city this is definitely not a running product), but I got hold of a roll of wire grating, which finishing workers usually use when plastering walls.
At the moment when I was already walking around my loggia with a tape measure in my hand, in order to determine which particular piece of this lattice I should cut off for a start, I suddenly thought: would the volume of space for several chickens turn out to be too large? Not allocated to them the area of the loggia, namely space.
I admit, at that moment I thought not so much about the chickens themselves, but about the possibility of somehow saving on their maintenance. Although I did not have any experience in breeding chickens, I still knew some general principles for handling poultry. It was not without reason that in childhood my parents sent me to my grandmother for summer and winter holidays, and now they themselves are holding chickens there!
So, for example, I knew that in the winter in the village chicken coops they often leave the light on for the whole night, at least some warmth comes from it. And especially advanced village poultry farmers even install a special infrared lamp for heating.
In the future, closer to winter, I was also going to get one like that, but I already thought about it for a logical conclusion - I’ll have to warm it not so much with the hens themselves, but with the sub-ceilinged space of the loggia! After all, heat, according to the laws of physics, rises up.
With a little thought in my brain, I decided to reduce the height of the future chicken coop to one meter, providing it with a removable trellised roof. According to my calculations, this option will give several advantages at once. In winter, for example, it will be possible to put glass on it, which will keep a part of the warm air under it.
In addition, a low roof will help to solve the problem of lighting. After all, city lights literally flood my loggia with light and night, which, I thought, could disorient chickens relative to the time of day. I suggested that if you put a blanket over this improvised roof for the night, then the problem with the light will be easily solved, and my hens will get a semblance of a small but cozy bedroom.
Perching for chickens in the balcony coop
As a result, having already thought about the comforts of living in the chicken house itself, I remembered that chickens, in addition to a feeding trough and a drinking bowl, should also have a perch. In this regard, it immediately occurred to me to fix a couple of poles (as if in two steps) near the far end wall of the projected chicken coop. And so that the birds, located on the top of the rostrum, do not rest their scallops on the ceiling grid, came up with this same ceiling to be placed not horizontally, but at a slope, raising it an additional 30 centimeters above the top perch at the end wall. He made in this way a ceiling with an inclination towards the front of the chicken coop.
This decision seemed right to me. The only embarrassment was that it would not be very convenient to clean the litter from under the roosts. So I was also puzzled by the topic of cleanliness in the home of my future hens. Generally, how to clean such a small chicken coop? What a scoop or a garden hoe, it’s understandable, but where do you get chickens? They will interfere!
The idea of arranging extendable pallets under the trellised floor was not my innovation. For many citizens, she quite successfully worked in the construction of small cages for all sorts of parrots and canaries. Of course, making a giant pallet for a chicken coop with a total area of more than two square meters is probably just not very reasonable. But the principle itself ...
He interested me, as a result of which I figured out how to reduce the floor area of the pen so that the size of the pallet for collecting litter could be substantially reduced proportionally.
According to my estimates, this can be achieved using a sheet of iron, if it is fixed under perches, with an appropriate slope, parallel to the inclined ceiling. In addition, it will be more convenient to clean litter from smooth iron.
I saw a similar construction in village chicken coops, but there iron fixed in this way was used mainly to protect hens wandering under perches from the bowel movements of friends at the top.
Given that all the materials were prepared ahead of time, it took me just a few hours to build a chicken coop according to this plan. And I did not expect that I would cope with this task so quickly. I did not forget to make a feeder and put together a pair of nesting boxes from the planks, where hens could lay eggs.
The chicken coop came out to glory! Now I just could not wait to quickly populate it. Having estimated the optimal number of future residents, I settled on five hens and one rooster. Where would it be without him?
The next day I went out of town, to one small private poultry farm, where, as I was told by knowledgeable people, it was possible to buy young animals that would begin to rush in a month and a half. I did not understand the breeds of chickens. Just bought those that were offered to me by the seller. Transplanting them into a cardboard box, he all praised his goods. I, looking at the youngster, naively asked him: where is the rooster?
The seller, grinning, enlightened me that, of course, I can buy a cock from him, but these hens do not have a “man in the house”, they will be carried without him. The only thing is, the eggs from under them will remain unfertilized, and if I decide to plant a brood hen on them or try to remove chickens in an electric incubator, then nothing will come of this venture. Otherwise, the eggs from the “unmarried” hens will not differ in any way from those whose appearance in some sense the rooster would have been involved.
I thought it was for the better. At heart, I was even afraid that if a rooster settled on my loggia, I would have to listen to complaints not only from my neighbors, but also from residents of the entire microdistrict, who would hardly like that they would have to wake up from cockerel singing early in the morning. Well, one less problem.
Young people in their new home got comfortable quite quickly. On the first day I didn’t find a place for myself. Almost every hour I went to the loggia to check my birds. Or maybe rather yourself. It didn’t fit in my head that I now live on the loggia ... hens.
But a month later, to my great joy, I already held in my hand the first egg they laid!