This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
In the whole interior is but one permanent partition - that is, there is a single part only which is nailed, all the other portions being removable at pleasure. The exception is the boarding which divides the breeding compartment and pigeon-loft above it, from the dry shed and roosting-house. If the first pair of rafters from the back have been placed to correspond with the uprights 2 ft. from the rear, as shown in Fig. 600, the match-lining, nailed vertically, may be secured to them at the top, and to the uppermost joist at the bottom, taking care to nail the planks on the side to allow the top of the joist to remain free to support the flooring of the pigeon-loft. No difficulty will be met with if the match-lining be sawn into 2 lengths, the shorter to reach from the roof to the first pair of joists in the smaller part of the house on the one side, and the longer planks to be nailed to the same pair of joists on the opposite side, and to extend to the ground, in which a piece of quartering 3 in. by 3 in. should be sunk as a stop. If the measurements are a little out, a fillet of wood nailed to the joists will make everything easy. As regards the flooring, all that requires to be done is that broad planks be sawn to the exact length, and fitted to extend from back to front.
The boarding need not be of more than 3/4-in. stuff, but the broader the planks the better, for they will be easier to remove when it is desired to cleanse them, or for any other purpose, and the quicker to replace when that purpose is accomplished. If the flooring be of a slight nature, however, a plank strong enough to bear a man's weight should be made fast in the centre of the fowl-house, for it will be found convenient to stand upon it, and so obtain command over every corner of the roof. The flooring in the pigeon-loft is best made of planed wood, as it is the most easy to clean. The advantage of having it loose is obvious, for by lifting one or two of the planks the whole of the loft may be easily reached by a person entering the breeding-place underneath.
In the roosting-house, there remain to be fitted the nests and the perches. The former consist of a strip of wood, 4 ft. in length and 4 in. high, which forms the front to a set of 4 egg-boxes, each 12 in. wide, and without bottom, which are simply made by nailing at every foot an upright piece of board 11 in. wide and 18 in. high. Stability may be given to them by a thin length of wood, nailed along the top. As a back to this row of nests, a piece of wood 4 in. high should be dropped into grooves attached to the uprights of the building on the right and left of flap h, against which the skeleton boxes should be set so that a person by lifting the flap may take the eggs out of the boxes without entering the house. The reason why the back of the nests should be movable, is that they may be cleaned without inconvenience. The arrangement of the nests and perches is shown by Fig. 606. a is the skirting nailed to the front of the boxes; b, the movable back running in grooves at each end; c, the hinged flap on the outside of the building; d, a wide shelf resting upon, but not attached to, brackets, and serving a double purpose: first as a roof to the egg-boxes beneath, giving them that privacy in which laying hens delight; and, second, as a tray to catch the droppings of the fowls roosting upon the perch e, which is slipped into sockets 4 in. above it.
This plan is highly desirable, conducing as it does to the rapid and effectual cleansing of the house daily. The shelf will also serve to prevent the fowls from an upward draught, which may arise from deficiencies in fitting the floor-boards.
The fittings of the pigeon-loft consist of a shelf placed 12 in. above the flooring, on which is an oblong box, without top or bottom, and divided in the centre so as to form a pair of nests, which are reached by an alighting board. A similar contrivance is on the floor below it, and other lockers may be put elsewhere if required. A house of the dimensions stated should accommodate with comfort 6 fancy pigeons and 8 or 9 adult fowls, besides chickens. In regard to the latter, when a hen becomes broody her proper place is in the compartment reached by door c, where a nest may be made up for her with 3 bricks and some moist earth. So soon as the chicks are hatched, they may be allowed the run of the compartment, and as they grow older may be given the use of one yard, from which the grown fowls are excluded by closing flap i. Should great pressure be felt in respect to accommodation for young chickens, an excellent run sheltered from the weather is furnished by the dry shed under the roosting house, the adult fowls being temporarily deprived of it by dropping flaps d and i.
Sunshine and air, combined with perfect safety from cats and vermin, may be afforded by wiring in, with 1-in. mesh netting, the front side of the run; and if a piece of small quartering be secured to the bottom of the wirework, whilst the top depends from staples driven into the joist above it, the protecting barrier may be readily raised when food and water are to be given.