Our first pullet egg

SUBHEAD: It has taken months, but we have our first source of home grown protein=

By Juan Wilson on 13 January 2009 for Island Breath -

For years we have intended to produce some eggs at home. We finally have.

My wife, Linda, and I spent half the summer on the mainland with my kids and their friends. They are in their 20's and 30's and our time together was at our family homestead in western New York. The area is mostly woods and Amish country.

Image above: Our pullet egg (left) compared with organic egg from Lawai. Photos by Juan Wilson

My son and his buddy were taking care of chickens there and Linda and I got into the habit of collecting eggs from them. The experience of harvesting a protein breakfast by simply walking across the dewy lawn to the coop was all it took to push me to build a chicken coop on Kauai. As soon as we got back I bought material from Home Depot and started cutting up lumber.

Image above: Chicken coop with enclosed yard that can be closed from outside and also separated from coop. Useful for keeping chickens enclosed while cleaning the coop or dealing with sick chicken.

I built a 4' x 8' raised platform with a walk-in coop and a shed roof housing seven boxes for laying. We went to Harvey's Feed Store in Kalaheo for supplies. Russell advised us to get Production Reds and we got four chicks and some special feed. We were soon in the habit of providing them water and feed everyday.

Our plan, from the beginning, was to have our chickens free-range in our yard (half acre). The wild chickens seem to love our place, and we'd rather be feeding our own chickens and collecting their eggs.

An early mistake was letting the chicks free too early. We were able, with some difficulty, to herd them back to the coop. To give them a taste of outdoors we made a temporary open topped enclosure for the chicks. It was too temporary, and was blown over in a gust of wind. One chick was lost in the collapse. We went back to Harvey's and bought four more chicks (one rooster and three hens).

Image above: egg laying boxes inside with a separated area for chicks below. Actually only a couple at a time are ever used. Note roosting bars are above wiremeshed "windows". Chickens have 360ยบ view of the ground around the coop.

We then added a 4' x 8' permanent chicken-wire enclosed outdoor area as a yard. From a couple of sources it was recommended that we not release the hens to our yard until after they began laying. That way they would have an incentive to come back to the coop in the evening.

Once they were big enough we started them on regular feed with a calcium supplement. we found by trial-and-error that our chickens don't like much greenery in their diet... except for haole koa leaves. I thought haole koa was for goats, but our chickens fight over the stuff. I have just about stripped all haole koa saplings from my yard in the last month.

Well, after four-and-a-half months our chicks have grown to pullets. On the morning of January 1st 2009 we had our first egg. Our biggest chicken, Henna, is now laying one small, dark, beautiful egg every afternoon.

Image above: "Secret" backdoor to get eggs without entering the coop. This doo was subsequently split into two doors for more flexibility.

Recently we have noticed paw marks on the sides of the coop that indicate at least one neighborhood dog shares an interest in our chickens. He's been back several times, even on top of the wired yard.

If anyone is interested, and as we gain more experience, we will go into more detail on the chicken coop and our experience raising chickens.


Anonymous said...

hi juan -- yep, i'm interested in learning how to raise these critters (chicken coop plans, etc.)

also would like to know who on the north shore could advise me on how to create a gravity-flow irrigation system off the ditch on my property -- any ideas?

(steve's friend -- charles.roessler@hawaiiantel.net)

Anonymous said...

Aloha Papa Squid!
So good to see the feathery ladies laying. The coop is looking good. Happy Omlets to you. Just finished off the last of the macadamia nuts you sent... thanks again, very tasty.

Anonymous said...

What are those chicks from Harveys. Red Stars? (red sex links?) Didn't know about haole koa. Great site!


Juan Wilson said...

The chicks we got are Production Reds. They are a lot like Rhode Island Reds. One big distinction is that the hens and cocks can be distinguished when they hatch. The cocks are light colored and turn white. The hens are tan and turn brown.

This is of advantage distributing the chicks early.


Juan Wilson said...


I will eventually post sketch plans of our coop. Any way you can keep the chickens out of the rain, protected from dogs and happy to lay eggs works. I made coops about 12" x 12" x 12" each. These coops are anout 18" off the floor. We have a "back door" to get the eggs out without disturbing or entering the henhouse.

Under the coops we screened off an area to raise smaller chick and keep them separated from the other residents.

Having an electric light helps for production. There are some bars for perches that run at different elevations so the girls can roost up under the roof at night.

We have had some marauding dogs come by and chew on the chicken wire protection. I suggest you keep any windows up hifg.


Carol Bain said...

Juan, Let me know when you post the plans. Our neighbors "gave" us 5 chickens but no coop. I am planning to build a coop (a bit smaller than yours) during spring break.
Carol & Ed

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