What time is it when the cow is in the chicken coop?
Answer: Time to get a new coop!
Yes, we are speaking from experience here, though I doubt we'd need it to draw such a conclusion. This is what comes from having a coop with a door big enough for people to comfortably go through and cows who are of a smaller breed. What can I say? Our cows were attracted to the smell of the feed the chickens get. They pushed their way inside, which immediately busted the floor through to the ground (the floor was up on runners so that the coop could be pulled to a new area with the pickup truck). The floor had already been weakened by all the rain that got in last year from continually losing the roof in storms. It was still strong enough for people, and certainly for chickens, but apparently, not strong enough for a couple of bovine creatures.
But, just getting in and out was not enough for those cows. They had to dance around inside, which broke all of the roosts, the waterer, and the feeder. They really did a number on it. As a result, the chickens didn't lay many eggs for many, many days. And when they started laying again, they did so UNDER the coop, which they accessed through the busted up flooring. It's been hard to get at the eggs and so I'm sure that when we finally get the thing moved and deconstructed, we'll find a nice stash. I sure hope no chickens have been underneath when the cows come for a visit!
And so, another project had to be started at a time when we were NOT intending to do it. Don had purchased running gear (the wheeled form that can be used for building a trailer) at an auction a while back just for this purpose, but we had hoped to put off building it until next spring, as we had plenty else to do right now.
As an aside, we have contemplated picking up a super-cheap full-size van at an auction to turn into a chicken coop. Picture it. You could fence off the driver's seat so that the chickens wouldn't foul it up and then you could just hop in and drive it to a new location. You'd tear out all the other seating for the chickens to have a nice big open area. Then, you'd build nest boxes at the rear of the van, which you'd access for egg-collection by just opening the back doors. It'd be perfect! Sure, the neighbors might talk, but they already do. You could even paint it like the Scooby Doo van just for kicks. Picture that out in the middle of an 80-acre pasture. And, we've seen running vans go for $400 or less. You can't build a similarly sized coop out of wood for less than that (unless maybe you salvage wood from somewhere). I would've loved to do it. But, we couldn't wait to come upon the van priced right since those silly cows forced our hands.
Anyway, Don got to work building a new coop on top of the running gear. Here is a picture of it before getting the walls and roof on so you can better see the structure of it.We've since added a roof and siding, and of course, people, chicken, and egg-collection doors. The cows won't be able to get in, unless they shrink and fly. The chickens will have a small ramp to walk up to their door, but we are worried that the cows may knock it over. I'm thinking we may have to set up an electric fence perimeter (with solar charger so it's movable) around it to keep the cows away.
There is a flat tire that needs to be fixed before we can pull it out to the pasture and transfer the chickens to it, but that should be accomplished the weekend. I hope those chickens like their new digs! As an added bonus, they can't hide eggs underneath it...not without us being able to access it and find them, at least!