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Wingtips by Bill Fawcett

Cooped Up

Coops, Lofts or Pens are always an interesting subject. There are many designs, and many specialized purposes. Obviously a holding pen in the simplest to build. Just about anything will do. Keep in mind that if you crowd the birds, sickness will invarible follow.

Dry is better than wet. Wire floors are better than dirt or wood. A roof is a good thing. A simple pen can be something like a wire cage with a piece of sheet metal or plywood sitting on top. A freind gave me a rabbit pen. It works fine for a few birds - something like 1.2 birds per square feet. You can crowd them for short periods, although some may get pecked up when the fights start.

A freind has a walk-in pen, about 8' x 8', built of 2x4s and chicken wire. It's located inside a shed. It is easy to walk in with a crate and start catching birds for the day.

Got a great coop or pen? Or a good tip? Send your ideas and photos for inclusion in a future article to Bill Fawcett:

A breeding loft requires more space for sucessful breedings and also individual nesting boxes, preferable in pairs. You can find a lot of designs on the internet. Here's one I've used for six breeding pairs. Note that it is skid-mounted so I drag it out of the way for mowing and cleaning underneath.

Recently I threw together a flight-return pen for some home-grown homers. I'll get into the details of how this works in another article, but I thought I would see what I could make with scraps on hand. I spent $10 on this coop - for the hardware cloth floor. I'm still looking for a scrap of metal for the roof. Note the return hatch called a "sputnik." Apparently it is a bit wide, because a few birds have figured out how to exit as well, but they hang around so no harm done. This small coop will hold up to 20 birds.

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Bill Fawcett resides in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with his wife, Cindy, and his Smythwicks Springers: Jenna, Beebe, Pie and Drake. He is an avid hunter, field trialer, breeder and member of the M-AHSC and the ESSFTA. Bill is a regular contributor to Spaniel Journal through various articles, book reviews and his Wingtips column. Bill also maintains an extensive public ESS pedigree database at

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Spaniel Journal - your source for flushing spaniel training, hunt test, field trial & hunting information