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I kept mine in a dog kennel covered with tarps at night. This was my "coop". During the day I let them roam a fenced yard and eat grass and bugs. You can easily train your chickens to return to the coop at night. Start by leaving them inside the coop for a few days till they feel secure with it. Then at dusk when you want to close them in, bring a treat for them (I used to sprout several types of seeds and then feed them the sprouts, or crack some corn for them with my grinder, or mix some plain yogurt with a little mash- there's lots of options). Very soon, even without treats, the chickens will start going to the coop in the evening on their own. (I also had my laying boxes in here, and most of my chickens used these - though occasionally one would get broody and try to hide eggs, or just lay outdoors to be a pain). Normally my chickens would be waiting for me inside the coop when I came out to close them up, or would come when they saw me, or when I called "Here chicky". If I ever got held up until after sunset the chickens would all go perch on their roosts in the coop by themselves.I never lost any of mine to predators, though I do know that I had a hawk try at least once and miss. - I had trees and other air cover in my yard, and normally the chickens would move under cover on their own if there was a threat. I never used much layer's mash as the chickens had other things to eat and were satisfied with that (though I did keep a feeder of it in the coop). I did grind up and bake egg shells for a calcium supplement. I would still have chickens but I moved to a town were idiotic regulations keep me from having them.
If I can't get rid of any funk my bottles might have by using dish soap and water, I steal one of my Dad's denture cleaning tablets. You fill the offending bottle full of water and then dump in the tablet. It bubbles like an Alka Seltzer, you let it sit overnight and in the morning you have a clean sanitized bottle.---Even if you have to buy the tablets (instead of using my method) when purchased at the grocery store they aren't very expensive.
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