Limerick students Edel McMahon (15) and Roisin Solley-Ambrose (16) have designed a top of the range ‘Chicken Motel’ for their project at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.
The Transition Year students at Desmond College in Co Limerick, set out to create a chicken coop that is easily transportable, safe and environmentally friendly.
Edel and Roisin wanted to come up with a long-term solution that would give the animals the space they need, whilst encouraging them to lay more eggs.
“Myself and Roisin got into the agriculture side of hobbies during Covid, and we have relatives, and they have chickens, and the coop is in one position all the time.
“So, the grass is being ruined by the chickens pecking in one place and then they would have to move it and that would take about a day and then have to put fertilizer on the old land. So, we decided that we wanted to make a mobile one that would be easy to move,” Edel said.
She added that it is a “top tier” coop for chickens. The ‘Chicken Motel’ can house up to four chickens and is also fully insulated.
“It’s suitable for up to four chickens but three comfortably. It provides everything a chicken needs from the nest to the perch and food and water supply.
“It’s very convenient, you can take everything out and clean it, it’s ventilated and insulated.
Edel and Roisin then found that by moving the coop to different areas every two days, the chickens began to lay more eggs.
“We found that before the trial, we monitored the chickens for a couple of days, and we found that they laid eggs, maybe one every two days,” Edel explained.
“We monitored it every day, and we moved it every two days. You don’t have to move it every two days, but it’s convenient if you want because it’s very easy to move.
“We found that one hen didn’t lay an egg the first day, but every day after that they laid an egg. I think they’re laying an increase of about 50pc.”
They two students have been working on this project since September and even interviewed a local farmer.
Edel said: “We interviewed a local free-range farmer, and they gave us a great insight on things like to do with ventilation. They told us that it would be hard to get the ventilation right because they found that mice could get in absolutely everywhere and it had to be airtight while providing enough ventilation.”
“The ventilation is at the top where we’ve installed the fake chimney, we have the hole in the middle where the chimney goes up and just under the roof there’s a few little holes with wire mesh on the inside for them to get air,” she said.
Edel also acknowledged the support of her school and teacher Donal Enright for their support, she said: “The school really encouraged us to do it and right off the bat my teacher was like ‘you have to do it’ so, I’m really happy my school encouraged me to do it.”