The Grand Chicken Coop Tour

I know everyone has been waiting with bated breath to see chicken coop updates since you devoured my first build report. Well, prepare your gullets. Here you go.

This project ended up taking longer than I planned since I prefer to spend as much non-office time wrestling with the world’s strongest Toddler.  So coop progress was mostly relegated to snippets of nap-time-construction-time and after-night-night-total-darkness-build-hours. However, I finally declare this beast 99% done and ready for occupants!

Who wants the grand tour? Just ignore the ugly tall unfinished fence post that’s part of my ugly 9′ tall garden deer fence.  (Yes, we are overpopulated with rabid, ravenous whitetails.) I wanted the coop just inside the garden fence for a few reasons.

  • The chickens will be a little more protected as they free range.  Roaming neighbor dogs are a serious threat for us.
  • They can help clear the garden of weeds and pest bugs. I just have to be sure and adequately protect the stuff I DON’T want them to eat!
  • As you learned last time, I’ll be using my lovelies as Compost Production Machines and wanted that system near the garden.
  • This garden is a Zone 1 (often managed) area where I’ll visit regularly.  I can pull weeds in the garden on the way to the coop, throw those greens to the chickens, do garden stuff, check for eggs, then head back out.  Saves this lazy guy a trip.

So, please feast your eyes on the prettiest little coop my wife has ever co-owned. Such is the life of a lucky Gentleman Homesteader’s spouse.

1CoopDone

The entire 8′x12′ structure is protected by half inch hardware mesh that encapsulates the 4′x8′ elevated, enclosed hen house.  Every chicken book in our Metro library system (because I read them all) and every online source I ingested agree you want a minimum of four feet indoor space and/or eight feet outdoor space per chicken.  Initially, I’m targeting seven chickies, so I (sorta over) designed their Cluckingham Palace to give them plenty of wing-stretching space.  This has helped make everyone happy and I have had no bird-on-bird violence because of it.

2CoopDoneFront

That hardware mesh is buried twelve inches into the ground to thwart any raccoons, skunks,  coyotes, or other hungry diggers looking for a free meal.

3CoopKid

The girls can access their Deluxe Apartment in the Sky through their very own ladder.

See the Eye Hooks on either side?  They help secure the front wall.  It’s hinged and can be held open to access the inside for cleaning.  I have a lofty goal of adding old car hood struts that will hold this wall open for me, thanks to an ingenious idea I picked up from another blogger.  I even have the struts, but just haven’t attached them yet.

4CoopLadder

Let’s look inside, shall we?

“Open Sesame”.

More fittingly for tasty pets, maybe it should be “Open Sesame Seed Bun”.

On the right you’ll see a 2″-3″ diameter limb I scavenged from our woods and cut.  It’s perfect for use as a roost at night. The natural imperfections of the limb are preferable to a uniform dowel rod or piece of cut lumber.

To the left are their nesting boxes which they now dutifully overflow with eggs.  It’s very important the roost be higher than the nests.  Chickens evolved in the wild roosting in trees at night as high as they could get for protection. So that’s where they want to be.  If your nests are above your desired roost, that’s where they’ll sleep (and make a terrible mess) each night, thereby soiling your eggs and making you very sad.

Yes, I did line the floor with a scrap piece of linoleum my Dad found at a garage sale.  This should greatly assist clean up.  The floor will be covered in about two inches of sand (you’ll see in later pictures).  A few seconds of scooping every four to seven days into the run below (where I’m composting using the Deep Litter Method) keeps things nice and tidy up here.

5CoopInside

Yep, let’s definitely keep this area clean.

Chickens share nesting areas.  A rule of thumb is you should have one box for every three to four hens.  So I went overkill here, but since I could theoretically house up to 10-12 birds in this structure, I might as well give them some options.  Not that it matters, since all seven of my birds lay in the same box.

6CoopNestBox

Above you can see the sand that still needs spread out.  There are a lot of different bedding options, but I’m trying  sand because it best dries the droppings, reducing smell and easing clean up.  A note: You don’t want fine play sand.  Rather, look for washed “construction sand” or “river sand” that is coarser.  The most suitable (and cheapest) stuff I could find was at Home Depot and labeled as “all purpose sand”.

Purchasing pullets (female chickens less than a year old) or hens (older than a year) will set you back between $4-$12 each around these parts, so I made sure to adequately protect my investment and load test to exceed weight specifications before their arrival.  (Don’t tell the wife how I did so.)

7CoopKidHelp

The entire top is open, but protected by hardware mesh so nothing can climb the walls and drop in for a midnight chicken smorgasbord.  I made sure the mesh “ceiling” is over six feet tall so we can walk in and work comfortably without having to stoop. There are a few inches between the mesh and the sloped metal roof to provide plenty of ventilation, which is essential for healthy living quarters.  You definitely do not want ammonia building up inside a dirty coop.

8MeshRoof

I built a small outside access door that opens into the back of the nesting boxes.  That way we can gather breakfast without having to enter the main structure.  Both this access door and the human door on the front are fastened with carabiners.  I read that raccoons are able to open anything a two year old toddler can open. Let’s hope these do the trick, as our woods sure seem to be infested with raccoons.

9EggDoor

Voila.  Open that door each morning and fill up your carton with natural, organic backyard eggs.  Not these plastic easter eggs made in China.  They train our young girls where they should be laying.  When the girls see egg-shaped thingies in a safe comfy spot, they learn it’s a good place to lay and will head there when nature calls.  I kept them in there for about two weeks and then removed them.  Everyone knows what to do!

10Egg

Golf balls can also be used in this role, but I don’t have any on hand since I humbly believe a golf course is a terrible use of land that would otherwise make for a great long-distance rifle practice range.

So there you go.

I hope you enjoyed your look around.

11CoopRight

Here are our first tenants thanks to people practically giving away 1960s era decorations on Craigslist.  Hopefully these lads will successfully look after their ladies.

13Decorations

I know.  I know.  It’s so breathtakingly beautiful you’ll throw a tantrum when it’s time to leave.

Tantrum.

Every. Time.

12CoopTantrum

Have you made many modifications to your coop after living with it for awhile? Any neat tips or tricks to share?

–Mike

Posted in Chickens Tagged with: ,
7 comments on “The Grand Chicken Coop Tour
  1. I love the coop. Yeah for the sand bedding! I am a huge advocate of sand. I was somehow convinced to switch to shavings for the winter and I don’t think I’ve ever regretted a poultry decision more. I can’t wait to haul them out and put back my beloved sand.
    Jessica @The 104 Homestead recently posted…Swales are Just Swell for the HomesteadMy Profile

    • Mike says:

      Thanks Jess! I’ve also been really happy with how well the sand has worked out in the elevated coop. I definitely wouldn’t want anything else in winter since sand dries everything out so quickly. Keeping any moisture around in winter inside the coop would be bad juju.

  2. Tammy says:

    Your coop is beautiful! Congrats!!!

    • Mike says:

      Thanks Tammy! I’m far from a Master Carpenter, so don’t look too closely at some of the corners. 🙂

  3. This looks awesome! My design is very similar, right down to the vinyl on the coop floor and it’s been SO great. I think you will be very happy with your awesome coop. One mod I wish I had thought of, but nearly impossible to implement now, is a modified pattock system off the coop. If I had way more space than my 1/3rd acre, I’d have this same coop design with a basic permanent run surrounding, and then have several large paddock areas all around – like maybe 8 of them, coming off like huge pie wedges around the coop and run zone. I’d keep these in growing pasture, lush pasture, chicken foradge and annual food production zones, rotating the hens through each wedge every six months or so. Geoff Lawton demo’d something similar, but I’d like to modify it so that instead of moving the whole coop all around you just open a different door to a different pattock depending on the month. That’s my dream coop set up. For now, I haul kitchen scraps and garden waste to the hens and compost out and it works. 🙂
    Erica / Northwest Edible Life recently posted…The Killer Hamburger Bun (Or, How Not To Get Your Point Across)My Profile

    • Mike says:

      You were the inspiration for trying the sand and deep litter hybrid. So far it’s been working out great. 🙂

      I’ve made a few mods and have set up a paddock system with electric net fencing. Only downside is I have to be slightly more careful where I can urinate. I cut a small chicken sized door (so I don’t have to keep the human door open all the time, and they now don’t go to the bathroom coming in and out right where we enter). I have three paddock areas from that chicken door, and likely will expand, but one paddock I’m letting them work very heavily as I will turn it into a large mandala garden. When they’re done, I’ll sheet mulch the hell out of it.

      I know Paul Wheaton isn’t crazy about letting birds take an area all the way to the ground like that, but I figure they’re not going to do it forever and will move to greener pastures when they’re done.

      Another mod I wish I would’ve thought of from the beginning is making each nest box separate and portable. We have a broody hen setting right now on 12 eggs and I wish I could’ve just picked up the whole nest to move her instead of having to move her by hand.

  4. Kathi says:

    This looks great and very predator-proof. My coop is ten years old and is in need of some maintenance/modification/repair.

    Thank you for sharing at the HomeAcre Hop, I hope you’ll join us again this Thursday. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead
    Kathi recently posted…Planting OnionsMy Profile

10 Pings/Trackbacks for "The Grand Chicken Coop Tour"
  1. […] UPDATE: You can take a grand tour of the finished coop Here. […]

  2. […] after awhile, and definitely after all the work in buiding their coop, we got impatient for eggs.  So I went and picked up two 14 month old hens that were already […]

  3. […] may have already read some about our chickens.  You’ve seen their coop being built, toured it when it was done, and Mike has already given a quick introduction.  I’m here today to officially present them to […]

  4. […] tractor instead of typing up this post.  No way I have room for twelve more occupants in the coop.  Three to five I can do with no problem since I over built it imagining someday we’d […]

  5. […] not something I need to worry about, as my veggies will be watered from barrels connected to my chicken coop‘s metal […]

  6. […] not something I need to worry about, as my veggies will be watered from barrels connected to my chicken coop‘s metal […]

  7. […] a full week, mama and her babies were segregated by chicken wire, yet still inside The Coop‘s run.  That way everyone could get acquainted slowly, the resident hens would constantly […]

  8. […] a specific example, when I proudly unveiled a “Ta Da!” to the Wife after finishing the Chicken Coop, she looked innocently at me and asked, “Is that quarter inch gap supposed to be […]

  9. […] too long the DIY coop I built just looked like […]

  10. […] This is where our chicken coop is.  They also get to selectively frolic in the garden at certain times, hunting pests and eating […]

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We are located in the Dayton, OH area. Our goal for this space is an informative companion to our primary passions - the Workshops we facilitate on various topics and the Private Consultation given to clients as Homestead and Regenerative Agriculture Design Consultants.

A few years ago, our young family moved out of the cul-de-sac where society says we're supposed to live, and onto five acres outside town. If you stick around on the blog, you'll see our successes and failures in real time as we start from scratch and transform our land. Read a lot more about us Here.

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