Our Layer Hens, Part 1

It seems like most days lately I go to sleep thinking about farm stuff and wake up thinking about farm stuff. And some nights I spend half the night thinking about farm stuff instead of sleeping. I think it’s just the time of year. A break from some of the more intense physical tasks gives the brain a chance to churn.

So this morning I woke up thinking that the outbuildings on this farm are like the slums, the ghettos of farm buildings. Every single one of them needs a bulldozer and a match. The insurance company refuses to cover them.

And then Christian left a comment in an earlier post asking for details of our laying hen setup.

And I thought, why not? It will at least be good for a few laughs.

Our layers are totally free range. Their homebase is supposed to be the corncrib:

This building appears to be reasonably sound. The cribbing holds it relatively square. But the cribbing also makes it difficult to do much useful with it. We had a carpenter out this spring thinking we could take out the cribbing and brace it from the top for support, then turn it into a decent farrowing/finishing building for the hogs. But his opinion was that it would also have to be braced from the bottom, which would then mean having some sort of floor, and we didn’t want a floor in a hog building. (Any of you engineer types have an idea?)


Here’s a look down the alley of the corncrib. You can see Matt’s built a divider down the middle. This makes a useful chute for running cattle into the trailer, or into a headgate when doing vet work. Someday I’ll show the pen and corral setup he designed for the cattle. It’s made working cattle much easier.


In cold or wet weather the chickens like to hang out on this side of the crib during the day.

Their actual coop is the old grainery room at the southwest end of the crib. It was originally used for storing animal feed. This room has solid walls rather than the spaced out cribbing boards, giving it a little more protection from the elements, but is open at the top allowing good ventilation without being too drafty. Matt built a ramp up for the chickens, and cut a pop door at the bottom of the grainery door. This allows us to shut them in if needed, but we hardly ever do. During the winter I keep the big door shut and they use the pop door for in-and-out access.

So there’s Part 1 of our laying hen setup. Are you laughing, or crying? Tomorrow I’ll show you the inside of the coop.

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6 Responses to Our Layer Hens, Part 1

  1. Patti says:

    My comment got lost….I think… Your buildings are NOT that bad. Very sturdy and useful!! We use what we have eh? If you want a good laugh come look at me place!! :):)

  2. Stacie says:

    outbuildings! yeah!!

  3. meanders says:

    I love your chickens’ crib! I’m thinking of getting a *small* laying flock here in suburban CT and I have a question–do you have any predator problems in your setup (either by land or air)? The crib setup looks like it works well in the winter, providing lots of space to scratch out of the snow. (PS, I formerly posted as aew, but I’m having technical difficulty, so now I’m meanders.)

  4. I think the way you’re treating the chickens is fantastic. If they had to choose I bet they would prefer these buildings over a really nice new chicken shed and being stuck in cages and not able to move around.Keep up the good work!

  5. Peter comly says:

    How about sooner rather than later with the corral info. I just finished up my yearly rodeo (the time of year when I sort the keepers from the eaters and swear that by next time I will have a functional handling set up). It was actually just dumb luck that I was able to catch the one who’s got a 400 foot flight zone.

  6. Christian says:

    It just so happens that I am a civil engineer. If I understand you correctly, you wish to remove some of the load-bearing partition walls in the corncrib to open up the floor space. Is that correct? Without seeing the structure in person or really knowing many details, I can only offer generalized advice. If by “bottom bracing” you mean adding posts, this can be achieved without adding a floor. You could pour concrete piers to set the posts on just as you would if you were building a deck. However, the corncrib does not appear to be wide enough to require posts if you can beef up the rafters sufficiently. The next time you are pressed for a topic to blog about, let’s have an expose’ on the corn crib!