We have a friend who teaches elementary school, and each year she hatches chicks for her students. Last year we took three and raised them in the house until they were old enough to join the rest of the birds in the coop. We still have them, and 2 are reliable layers (the third turned out to be a rooster, alas). By and large this worked out great, except they made an unholy stink and mess in our basement. The stink faded quickly once we got the out, but the mess, a fine film of disgusto chicken dust* on everything, took a lot of work to clean up. This lead to an “over my dead body will we ever have chickens in the house again” proclamation from Susan. This year I wanted free chickens again, so I created this, for about $20:
That’s 3 sheets of $7 foundation insulation foam and about a roll of duct tape. It closes up with insulation across the top as well. The wooden coop sitting inside it:
I already had. It has 1 100 watt light which is on 24×7. There’s another 100 watt fixture out of sight under their roosting area which I flip on if its going to be under 40 degrees at night, which it has been a few times so far. So far the chickens seem to be doing fine and the wife is happy, so I’ll tentatively call this successful. Now to get the new, bigger coop built quick – I have a dozen guinea hens on the way in about a month.
(I should note that we compromised and kept the baby chicks in the house for their first two weeks, because it was especially cold this spring and we worried they wouldn’t survive. They’re almost 4 weeks old now and have been out for over a week, including 2 nights that got under 30 degrees.)
* disgusto chicken dust is made of about 2/3 wood chip dust pulverized by tiny chicken feet and 1/3 powdered chicken poop. It really is vile.