A Small Practical Loft

By: Rick L. Mee

          Recently I converted my foster loft which was a open loft arrangement, to a loft with individual breeding pens and break up pens to house the cocks and hens separately when not breeding. This is a small 8' X 8' ; loft which is practical, affordable, and maximizes space.

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          First picture is a inside view of one of the nest compartments. The flooring is removable as well as the top shelf where I place the nest. When the youngsters are about fourteen days old and it is not too cold I put them down below on the wire floor, this encourages the pair to lay another clutch of eggs. The small opening is 4" X 4", it leads to a individual fly pen so the pair can get sunshine every day. The breeding compartment is roughly 2' wide, 18" tall, 18" deep.

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          Second picture shows how by simply cutting a few holes between nest boxes you can easily practice polygamy breeding. I place the nest bowls on each side of the hole right up next to it so that the hen in waiting is right up next to the pair on the other side but obviously canít get to the cock. Later in the afternoon I place the cock with the other hen who has been waiting all day to spend some QUALITY time with the cock, really drives the other hen crazy. When both hens lay their eggs they are moved to foster parents and the whole process starts over again. This could be done with several hens and one cock, use your imagination, just make sure you have enough fosters.

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          Third picture shows how you can build one door which in my case, access four nests at a time. Precludes the need for a door for each nest, also saves on hinges and I think it just looks neat. I simply used 1" X ½" thick boards to build the doors, they only took a few minutes each to build.

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          Fourth picture shows the four doors closed, behind those doors are sixteen individual breeding pens. Window at the end of the hallway is for light and air. When it is cold I close it up, temp inside is always warmer than outside in the winter, cooler in the summer.

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          Fifth picture is of the two break up pens for separating the cocks and hens when not breeding. Each are roughly 4' wide, 2' deep, 4' tall. Box perches are on the side walls. Each break up pen has a large hole which accesses a fly pen for sunshine and baths. I also put the water out there so the loft does not incur any dampness, also keeps the water cleaner. Floor is 1" X 1" welded wire, droppings fall to a shelf below which can be scraped for cleaning. An improvement would be to have catch trays below the break pens so they could simply be dumped when necessary.

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          Sixth picture is of the back side of the loft showing individual fly pens for each of the sixteen nests. Each fly pen is roughly 18" tall, 2' wide, 1' deep. I only built it 1' deep because this loft use to set up against a fence and I built the loft too close to the fence before deciding to add the fly pens on for each nest. Another improvement would be to have a small door to each individual fly pen. Since we have black snakes in the summer which seemingly can get through the smallest of cracks, I choose to not have any. I use small ½" hardware cloth so there is no way a mouse or snake can get in.

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          Last picture is a exterior view of the loft. The fly pens are the same size as the break up pens on the inside, small door to replace water and move birds inside when I want to handle them. Solid wall between fly pens so cocks and hens do not have any contact, same for the break up pens inside. There is about 8" of wire above the fly pen that runs the entire front of the loft for ventilation. Roof was covered with plywood before the aluminum was put down, keeps it cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter. Loft is high enough off the ground so my cats can get underneath to deter mice, also keeps the floor dry since there is air running under the loft at all times. I will eventually place lattice around the bottom for a cleaner look.

          Since none of the birds are actually on the floor and all are on wire, there is hardly any dust in this loft. Keep in mind that on the back side of the loft is wire toward the top above the individual fly pens which allows for fresh air, not to mention the sixteen 4" X 4" holes cut out for the individual fly pens. There is a large window at the east end of the loft, wire for ventilation above the fly pens in the front of the loft, then the two large holes cut out so the birds can access the large fly pens from the break up pens. This means constant ventilation, however the loft does not have drafts.

          This loft is simple, affordable, and maximizes the use of a small loft. With this basic design a breeder can have up to sixteen pairs which can be kept in a fairly clean environment which is not only healthy for the birds, but also for the owner.