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Creative livestock housing--an unused silo cap.

It seems you can never have enough outbuildings around the homestead. You need to store equipment and gardening supplies, house chickens and other livestock-and the list goes on and on. Creatively using what you have on hand is a must on any homestead, and an added bonus. We found an inexpensive alternative to a stick-built outbuilding. A silo top was purchased for $500 and moved to our property with the intent of using it for storage. Considering this silo top has 314 square feet, $500 was a good bargain. (A 1-1/2 car garage of similar square footage would cost several times that amount.)

We learned that two people can put up a silo top on a gravel foundation with little effort in less than a day. Several bolts and clips were missing, which left a few holes exposed. Clear silicone helped seal these holes. After we decided we would like to raise some chickens and rabbits for meat while keeping some laying hens, the idea of using the top for a storage shed was abandoned. We decided to convert this silo top into housing for 10 guineas, which will help control the tick population and serve as watch dogs. We have 25 meat birds four laying hens for eggs and breeding, as well as three New Zealand rabbits (one buck and two does) for breeding.

With two days of work the inside of the silo top was set up with two chicken coops and seven rabbit cages. Both coops were constructed and separated with 2 x 4s, 2 x 6s, plywood, chicken wire, and miscellaneous hardware. One coop for the guineas (a quarter of the floor space) was set up with tree limbs for roosting and a hanging waterer and feeder. The other coop for chickens (another quarter of the floor space) was set up with nesting boxes, roosts, a waterer, feeder and a heat lamp for brooding. Each coop has a hole cut out of the side of the silo top so the birds can come and go outside as they please. The exit holes can be closed if you need to confine any of the birds. The other half of the space is being used for the rabbits and galvanized (mouse proof!) garbage cans to hold all of the feed.

A hole was also cut in the side of the silo top large enough to frame in an exterior door for people. The exterior of the silo top was back filled with dirt to deter predators from digging under the foundation from the outside. To help keep predators from getting to the birds while they free-range, 328 feet of electric poultry net was purchased from Premier 1 Supplies (2031 300th St., Washington, IA 52353, 800-282-6631, www. premier1supplies.com for a catalog), and energized with an 110 volt fence charger. This type of fencing is easy to move and allows us to rotate the pasture area. There is also a small fenced-in coop within the boundaries of the poultry netting. This outside coop is used to house new birds before they are introduced to the rest of the flock. We also made some outdoor structures for hanging feeders and waterers out of PVC pipe. These will have a roof added to them to deter wild birds from eating the chicken feed and mixing with our flock.

Most of the materials used to set up our chicken yard and rabbitry are recycled and inexpensive. You could use old silo tops for all kinds of small and medium sized livestock. Silo tops come in a wide range of sizes and can be found for little or nothing.

If you have a creative housing idea, share it with others by sending it to: COUNTRYSIDE Editorial, 145 Industrial Dr., Medford, WI 54451, or e-mail csymag@tds.net.

RAY KREUZIGER

COUNTRYSIDE STAFF
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Author:Kreuziger, Ray
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Words:639
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