DIY Broiler Hut

My wonderful husband made this hoop house for our broiler chickens over Easter weekend. The broiler chicks he wanted me to buy next year but I went ahead and bought this year. Without a place to put them.

The official plans can be found at “Making a Hoop Pen For Pasture Poultry” courtesy of the University of Kentucky. Of all the broiler house plans I’ve looked at (a bunch) this one is the best for price, portability, size and materials. This broiler hut can house about 50 broilers to market weight, cost us $90 to make and took less than 2 hours to pull together. Those University of Kentucky extension agents are smart people.

So is my husband, who hardly ever needs plans.

Step 1: Make the frame
The frame was easy enough, the only thing I would change is that we used 2x6s because we already had some. The plans call for 2x4s. I’m convinced the 2x6s make the whole thing just heavy enough that I can’t move it alone. It could by my imagination but yeah, pretend those are 2x4s in the picture.

Step 2: Attach the panels 
We bent the panels across the frame and nailed them in place with fence staples. The panels rest on wood cleats to make them stay in place, I wouldn’t have thought of that, Tom would have though.

Step 3: Make the door frame 
Tom made the door frame from two 2x6s (use 2x4s!)

Step 4: Add chicken wire
We wrapped the panels with chicken wire to keep the chicks in. And attached it with zip ties, like professionals.

Step 5: Make a door
The door is just a cut livestock panel and hinged with long fence staples. My husband is a genius for thinking of that. The plans call for an actual door with door hinges- this door is way lighter.

Step 6: Add a tarp 
The last step was to add a tarp (12×16′)  to act as a windbreak and keep out the rain. We tied it on with cord and we had a complete broiler hut.

Step 7: Put in the broilers

While X-ing Mason Dixon, This Week

Here’s a new thing. Weekly happenings posts. This week isn’t even over yet and I don’t want it to be because it’s National Ag Week! I was too busy working and doing life things to blast social media about agriculture the way I planned to. There is one more day so I’ll have to try.

Here’s some weekly things I did instead of blogging about Ag Week:

.. St. Patricks day happened. We didn’t do much but Tom have the best St. Patrick’s day tradition- a shrimp feed at a firehouse down the road. We’ve been going since before we were dating and he still had gauged ears. Way back. It is this Saturday and we’re more than excited.

..I spent all week inspecting baby chicks at local feed stores. So far 11 stores and 1500 chicks. Not complaining one bit and I’m proud to say I haven’t bought a single chick.

..Yesterday I scored an emu egg for my mom who is teaching 3yr olds about Australia. She’s been asking me for one for forever. Occasionally they come through our poultry auction but never when she needed it. Early this week I got an assignment: go test 6 week old emu chicks. Score. The super nice owner gave me a consolation egg. ps. did you know emu chicks don’t have wings?

..The highlight of my week to date was a Java Chip Frappuccino courtesy of a gift card from a sweet friend at church. I haven’t had one of these in two whole years. coffee drinks = bliss.

..I also did take a picture of a hamburger for National Agriculture Week maybe I’ll post it. It’s really hard to do social media and drive and inspect chicks and chase emus and drink coffee.

Anyhow, happy St.Patricks day/Ag week week!


Patience & Poultry Testing

Poultry testing. When I told my physical therapist that was my big weekend plans she thought I said poetry reading. I understand her confusion.

This weekend was our annual poultry testing certification class which is way more fun than poetry reading. Poultry testing is a required skill for state livestock inspectors and one we are able to teach the public. In just four hours, a written exam and a short practical most anyone can be a certified poultry tester. At least in our state.

We test poultry for influenza and salmonella. Poultry testing is easy but it takes patience. Generally poultry testing involves a 4Her with a couple dozen tame hens, which is always fun. The patience comes in when you have to catch the hens yourself, there’s more than a couple dozen, they’re actually pheasants, loose in a field.

Patience also comes in when checking expiration dates of blood tubes, keeping antigen cool, cleaning boots, changing clothes, spraying down truck tires, writing down band numbers, filling out forms, and in getting just enough media in AI (avian influenza) tubes; while handling live birds.

It’s a blast to teach. Coordination is the only hard part. This year I tried to coordinate everything electronically. I made an online “interest” form and shared it on facebook. Thirty couple people signed up. Then I asked them to turn in and paper application with a check. Only a few did. They thought the google form was the registration form. I got really impatient. We needed the money to buy the birds to teach the class and we needed the applications to process the money and to get a final head count. It was kind of a mess, mostly because I used a google form and facebook instead of a regular mailing like everyone told me to. Life lessons. Google forms are still the answer though. Poultry testing is humbling so it makes sense that teaching it would be too. Still way more fun than poetry reading.

Did you have big plans over the weekend? More fun than teaching people to swab chickens? Let me know in the comments. And if you want to know more about poultry testing I could talk about it all day so there’s that.

Hugs and chickens,

Mid-Atlantic Poultry Expo 2013

On February 2nd the University of Maryland Extension hosted the Mid Atlantic Poultry Expo at the Carroll County Ag Center. Work had a booth set up and for the first time we got to teach a class. The class was on Poultry Testing with a live testing demonstration. 

I had a blast meeting all the small flock owners, poultry enthusiasts and extension agents. I met a farmer in howard county who told me all about holistic management and controlled grazing. So interesting! More on that later. Looking forward to next year.