13 hours ago
Friday, March 26, 2010
Building a turkey laying pen
Spent a good part of today building a turkey pen. I'm penning the turkeys because the red tailed hawk killed one earlier today and I'd like to be able to collect their eggs more efficiently. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about the hawk long term -- I can't shoot them, they're federally protected migratory birds -- and I don't know what will be effective as a deterrent. Since I need to collect the eggs anyways, I'm going to pen the turkeys and see if the hawk doesn't find something better to do.
I've put down a layer of wood chips, and a bunch of old, rotted hay and stirred it all up. The turkeys will pick through this and scratch at it, and level it out, fertilizing it, and next year I'll plant part of my garden here. Sort of a turkey tractor.
The turkey pen will have two coops, one on either end. Both are built of recycled materials. I build the one in the picture above on a pair of cedar logs so that I could easily move it around with the tractor, or, in case of flood, rise with the flood waters. I'll chain it to one of the fence posts to the left. Those fence posts have 800lbs of cement at the bottom. Farming the flood plain makes for interesting challenges.
Inside the larger shed, all of the boards are intentionally spaced. This allows air circulation and keeps the structure dryer in my damp climate. It's tall, so that the birds can roost up near the roof, and so that I don't have to stoop when collecting the eggs or working in the building. The turkeys food and water will be in this shed. Turkeys like a pretty big nest box. I'll use 30 gallon garbage cans turned on their side, and provide a couple of other nest box choices. The goal is to get the turkeys to pick one of the boxes vs laying the eggs out in the yard somewhere, so I'll be creative and come up with different looks, hopefully to meet every hens preference.