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  • helpinghensfarmri

Late February Updates

February is coming to a close, and the weather has warmed in the last few days to the point where the snow has finally almost completely melted. We're looking at rain and temperatures fluctuating from below freezing to the mid-40's for highs. Welcome to mud season in Rhode Island!

Despite the rain, it was finally warm enough to to take care of a project I've been wanting to get after for a while. Our big coop has three 10-box nesting box setups mounted on the wall, but they're a bit on the older and beat up side, and were missing bottoms.

I had picked up some fairly heavy wire and gotten some scrap plywood cut to was finally warm enough that I could feel my fingers outside well enough to get things put together!

We did this for 10 of the nesting boxes today. The other 20 can wait for more "floors" to be cut...although certainly no rush, as these boxes plus the others we have should be plenty for everyone to lay. Chickens are funny creatures. We had about 16 nesting boxes available before this addition, and the flock only laid in about 4 or 5 of them.

The good news is that my son went out looking for eggs after dinner and there was already one in the new boxes, so they're finding them. I was pleased, since sometimes it can take them a few days to "discover" a new nest box.

I've included two pictures of the boxes, one with the hay pulled back so you can see the plywood "floor" a bit.

The new boxes should see plenty of action...laying activity has REALLY picked up this week. We got over 30 eggs yesterday, and over 30 again today. The new flock is kicking into gear, and the existing birds are also picking up the pace with the days getting longer. We donated 12 dozen eggs last week, which I think is our biggest single week donation ever. The eggs are a pretty collection of colors and sizes, as you can see in the photo below.

Also of note, the big coop is actually still pretty clean. We winterized it and did a sort of deep-litter setup and I'm happy to report that with spring in our sights, it's not too dirty in the coop at all, and the odor was very neutral. We probably have another month to maybe 6 weeks before we clean out the shaving from the big coop and add them to the compost pile (summer-ize the coop?) I think we may throw in another bale or two of shavings in that time, but I think the plan worked really well.

Of course, post-cleanout, all those "nutrient infused" shavings will make a great addition to the compost pile!

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