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Ideas for this inherited aviary?

 
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I purchased a home and it came with this aviary. It’s close to the deck and house or I would use it as part of a chicken run/coop (and I may still try that). It’s aprox 4 x 16 feet, very well built and would be quite a tall order to take it apart and move. The roof is composite shingles.

The previous owners had Doves in it and it was quite stinky by the deck and back of the house.  

The tree to the left is an old apple tree......yay!

I’m wondering if anyone has any ideas on what I can use this for to enhance my planned food forest for this property?

I would so much appreciate any thoughts.
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Aviary
Aviary
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gardener
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Samantha, is the floor wooden?

The reasons birds tend to get stinky is too much nutrient-rich manure for the balancing "browns". This is worse if the build up goes anaerobic which is then harmful for the birds as well as nasty. There are a bunch of ways people manage poop:
1. In a couple of stationary shelters I use (too wet in the winter for the birds to be on the grass), I add chipped and shredded tree duff regularly. If areas get compacted, I use my garden for to aerate it. If it doesn't decompose fast enough, I manure fork it into garbage cans and move it to a compost.
2. I've heard of some people filling areas like yours with dry leaves in the fall and letting their chickens go in and break up and fertilize the leaves. I can do a little of that, but my climate is so damp that leaves are more inclined to go aerobic than tree duff is. The chickens love playing in the leaves, so I do use some, but I usually only give them leaves once a week or so.
3. If you can start off with a good base of biochar, that will soak up a lot of nutrients and help keep things light.
4. I've heard of some people using kitty litter and sifting it like they do with cats.

All these options require a certain amount of work, and it needs to be done very regularly. Most of the shelters I use for animals have no bottom and we move them every day or two. The poop gets distributed, the birds get fresh grass in which to hunt for bugs, but it's still work moving them, and the ground needs to be fairly flat.

As to non-bird uses, firewood storage maybe? I'd want to add some extra doors if I was going to do that.
 
pollinator
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You could raise pigeons there too!

I didn't hate squab when I had it in Italy. Kind of like darker meat chicken.
 
pollinator
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Cute little shed! If it could be moved, it would be perfect for storing garden tools.
 
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When I first saw the pictures, I thought gazebo.

Then I thought maybe shade-loving perennials like flowers or hostas, would be nice.

when Douglas mentioned shed, I thought that is what I would do. Clean out the floor and fill in with concrete.  Add walls and some shelves inside.

I also like the firewood suggestion.
 
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In my opinion it is too small for permanent housing of any avian dinosaur.
(I also oppose chicken tractors, paul has a presentation on why)

Depending on your context it could be excellent shelter for some reptiles of your choice.
So if you fancy some exotics it could be their summer residence.

I Personally would put some big ass rocks in there to create shelter for native reptiles,
because in there they are safe from cats and can warm up before they go hunting.
So you help possibly engadered species plus you get free pest control.

edit: of course the reptile thing depends also on sun exposure, you didn't give any info about that.
If you do the reptile thing, consider also putting rocks/boulders around the structure in a suntrap fashion.
 
Samantha Hall
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The floor is lined with wire and currently has gravel over that.

Your post has me contemplating going ahead and using it for chickens. Thanks for your feedback!

Jay Angler wrote:Samantha, is the floor wooden?

The reasons birds tend to get stinky is too much nutrient-rich manure for the balancing "browns". This is worse if the build up goes anaerobic which is then harmful for the birds as well as nasty. There are a bunch of ways people manage poop:
1. In a couple of stationary shelters I use (too wet in the winter for the birds to be on the grass), I add chipped and shredded tree duff regularly. If areas get compacted, I use my garden for to aerate it. If it doesn't decompose fast enough, I manure fork it into garbage cans and move it to a compost.
2. I've heard of some people filling areas like yours with dry leaves in the fall and letting their chickens go in and break up and fertilize the leaves. I can do a little of that, but my climate is so damp that leaves are more inclined to go aerobic than tree duff is. The chickens love playing in the leaves, so I do use some, but I usually only give them leaves once a week or so.
3. If you can start off with a good base of biochar, that will soak up a lot of nutrients and help keep things light.
4. I've heard of some people using kitty litter and sifting it like they do with cats.

All these options require a certain amount of work, and it needs to be done very regularly. Most of the shelters I use for animals have no bottom and we move them every day or two. The poop gets distributed, the birds get fresh grass in which to hunt for bugs, but it's still work moving them, and the ground needs to be fairly flat.

As to non-bird uses, firewood storage maybe? I'd want to add some extra doors if I was going to do that.

 
Samantha Hall
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If I used it for chickens, it would just be part of their home. I definitely agree it’s too small to lock birds up in there.

I absolutely love the idea of a reptile home. I’m going to think on that.

It would get much more sun if it didn’t have the roof on it. At the moment, it gets maybe 4 hrs of sun in the afternoon.

Thank you!

R. Han wrote:In my opinion it is too small for permanent housing of any avian dinosaur.
(I also oppose chicken tractors, paul has a presentation on why)

Depending on your context it could be excellent shelter for some reptiles of your choice.
So if you fancy some exotics it could be their summer residence.

I Personally would put some big ass rocks in there to create shelter for native reptiles,
because in there they are safe from cats and can warm up before they go hunting.
So you help possibly engadered species plus you get free pest control.

edit: of course the reptile thing depends also on sun exposure, you didn't give any info about that.
If you do the reptile thing, consider also putting rocks/boulders around the structure in a suntrap fashion.

 
pollinator
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Would quail do well in that setup?
 
Jay Angler
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Samantha Hall wrote:

It would get much more sun if it didn’t have the roof on it.

I was thinking the same thing. You may need some cover if your climate is wet, but the tree will give some shade, so I had wondered if replacing the roof with old sliding glass doors to give more light would open up other options. I had not intended to suggest it would be a full-time home as opposed to a day-run for chickens. Even if people free range or create multiple paddocks for chickens, there are often times when you need a little break for those areas, and having this shelter as a known safe spot if you suddenly get a new predator causing trouble, or if you have a broody chicken followed by tiny chicks, or an injured bird that needs a safe place to heal and gain strength, this shelter, with minimal changes, could provide for that.
 
Samantha Hall
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It very well might. They previously had 23 Doves in it and they seemed happy. However, I don’t believe that I would want quails. But it’s a great idea! Thanks

Stacie Kim wrote:Would quail do well in that setup?

 
Samantha Hall
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The tree shades in the other direction so it would get afternoon sun. That’s a good idea for the roof.

And yes, it could be handy for various times for chickens but not full time. I completely get that.

Thanks so much for your feedback.
Sam

Jay Angler wrote:Samantha Hall wrote:

You may need some cover if your climate is wet, but the tree will give some shade, so I had wondered if replacing the roof with old sliding glass doors to give more light would open up other options. I had not intended to suggest it would be a full-time home as opposed to a day-run for chickens. Even if people free range or create multiple paddocks for chickens, there are often times when you need a little break for those areas, and having this shelter as a known safe spot if you suddenly get a new predator causing trouble, or if you have a broody chicken followed by tiny chicks, or an injured bird that needs a safe place to heal and gain strength, this shelter, with minimal changes, could provide for that.

 
gardener
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Chicken/rabbit setup a lá Joel Salatin? (it has a cute name that I can't remember right now-- chickens on the bottom, rabbits on the top). Both could conceivably have ramps going out to enclosed outside yards.
 
Samantha Hall
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I’ll look that up. Thank you!

Tereza Okava wrote:Chicken/rabbit setup a lá Joel Salatin? (it has a cute name that I can't remember right now-- chickens on the bottom, rabbits on the top). Both could conceivably have ramps going out to enclosed outside yards.

 
R. Han
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Samantha Hall wrote:It very well might. They previously had 23 Doves in it and they seemed happy.



How do you tell that?

As i am really bad at reading their mimic i have to stick to objectively verifiable facts,
like wheter the captive animal can express the behaviour that it has in the wild.
23 Doves in that eclosure (or even one pair) cannot do that.

Just because animals eat, move and even breed doesn't mean they are happy.

 
Samantha Hall
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Well yes, you are correct. I don’t know anything about Doves and whether they were happy, or not. I personally do not believe in keeping flying birds in a cage like that. I will not be locking anything up in there to live caged.

R. Han wrote:

Samantha Hall wrote:It very well might. They previously had 23 Doves in it and they seemed happy.



How do you tell that?

As i am really bad at reading their mimic i have to stick to objectively verifiable facts,
like wheter the captive animal can express the behaviour that it has in the wild.
23 Doves in that eclosure (or even one pair) cannot do that.

Just because animals eat, move and even breed doesn't mean they are happy.

 
pioneer
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I'd board it up, insulate it and add a door. Pull electricity in there and you'd have a great shed/workshop. Put your bench across the end. Tools get hung on the walls.
That small 'room' off to the side could get a door of it's own for garden tools and stuff. You could put some shelves in there, too.
Put a stereo in there, too. It's great to have background music playing while you're piddling. Get some of those funny, tin wall decorations and hang them up. If you're a vet you know about I Love Me walls. Great place to hang your military plaques and stuff.
Put a big sign out front that says, "No girls allowed". No bathroom, so you shouldn't have that issue.🤣
 
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I would go with rabbits or bees!

That seems like a great start for a rabbit hutch - I don't like the idea of caging animals, as some others in this thread have suggested, but rabbits are one that if they aren't caged, they get out of control and diseased very quickly. Keeping them in a large hutch allows you to control their population via delicious rabbit meat (my parents raised them when I was a kid, I liked them better than chicken) and you have a steady flow of fertilizer dropping out the bottom! It should be very simple to put the right sized mesh around the bottom, and a larger mesh around the sides, plus it keeps it relatively open so you don't suddenly have a wall where you had a bit of a view of your yard before. You could also extend a ramp down to a portion of yard for them. Someone else mentioned a rabbit/chicken combo which I haven't heard of, but that might be a great idea too!

Beehives look like they would fit fairly nicely in there - not a perfect fit probably, but I'm sure you could make it work. You want the hives off the ground to discourage raids by predators, ants, and so on. Maybe not that high, but perhaps you could lower those beams that would act as a floor for them. The main reason I thought bees is that you have the benches right there - watching bees on a sunny day is super interesting! I loved studying those when I was a kid as well. Not to mention the benefits to that nice apple tree right there; you'll have crazy nice apples!

Good luck! It's fun repurposing inherited structures, and that looks like a nice one! The foundation of my pond shed is melting into the pond right now haha, even as my ducks try to hatch eggs in it... I think it's only got maybe a year left before the door won't close anymore lol.
 
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