Saturday, January 20, 2007

By request: chicken coop

Someone asked about the details of our chicken coop. I'm sure you can probably build one more cheaply than hubby did, but here you go. Click on any of the pictures for a larger version.

Open yard in front, woods in the back. The chickens used to roam picturesquely around the yard, but nowdays they're in the woods most of the time. If we fenced around the coop we'd have fewer predator losses I'm sure.

The ground is rocky and slopes a little here.

One of the Easter Eggers wonders what I'm up to. That cinderblock in front is really for me, but the chickens use it too. Hubby originally designed the back wall to have a door with a ramp for small chicks, but it turns out that they can hop up on the block too, so we never open the other side.

The door is person-sized rather than chicken-sized.

Fancy door lock #1 (closed door position). There's one at the top and another at the bottom.

Fancy door lock #2 (open door position).

Fancy footing. Jasmine crawls under the coop at this end sometimes. Not that a little thunder would frighten her or anything... she just likes it under there.

Hubby poured concrete for the corner footings. He says that he wishes he'd made a row of footings down the middle (underneath) too but it's a little late for that now.

Left (front) side wall. We made two roosts on this side, one low and one high. They only ever use the high one though. Hubby went back and added some of these wall beams later because the side was bowing out a little. Whoever is the top-dog rooster usually roosts directly by the door on this side. No idea why! If you enlarge the picture, you can see that some of the chickens like to roost on that little support piece that's between the roost and the wall.

He's having the same problem with the back wall bowing, and says he needs to add beams here too. The roost is shorter on this side. When we had a lot more chickens, they'd divide up between sides. Nowdays they all roost on the same side, but usually divide up on either end!

The roof slopes and has space for ventilation on both sides. I thought we might have trouble with critters getting in, but we've only had a problem once with a rat snake that ate several eggs and killed a pullet. The ventilation really helps in the summer and doesn't seem to hurt in the winter. (We are in zone 7 so this might not work in colder areas.)

Here is the chickens' favorite nesting box. Yep it's a cat litter box. You can see a little piece of the never-used lower roost. I really need to remove it, since it's only good for banging up my shins.

White leghorn tries to give me the evil eye. She is the oldest chicken we have left now -- in the spring she will be three years old. She still lays very consistently, although her eggs are smaller than they once were.

All the chickens have begun laying again. I wanted to get more chicks in the spring, but hubby is trying to talk me out of it. We have been eating fewer eggs, but I really like having chickens just for pets. And I'm afraid that if we begin the spring with only 6 hens, we'll have none left by fall. There's still time to think about it.


Rob said...

Nicely done and I’m considering something similar. We have a problem with raccoons and ground squirrels raiding the coop so I may have to put chicken wire around any air vents.


Rurality said...

Yes, that was the plan for us too, if we'd had a problem. We put chicken wire around the bottom at one time, when one of the muscovies was insisting on trying to nest there.

Floridacracker said...

Looks like a user friendly coop!

KFarmer said...

In the past, I've had my share of varmits raiding the coop. I would call the county boys and they would bring a cage w/a can of cat food. In a day or two, presto-magico, end of problem. I've also been known to blast a couple.

I plan on ordering 25-50 this spring. If your population takes a dive, let me know. I'll meet you in Montgomery- a bird or two in hand :)

Rurality said...

FC, yup, it definitely built with the egg-gatherers' comfort in mind as well.

KF, thanks! You're a sweetie!

LauraHinNJ said...

Looks good!

I was just helping my brother collect eggs from his hens today. He sent me home with a few dozen of the prettiest little eggs because his frig is overflowing with them.

I suggested he try selling some, but I'm not sure how that would go over because I imagine people are used to the gigantic thin-shelled ones from the supermarket.

vicki said...

The picture of the chicken looking at you around the corner of the door is one of the funniest photos I've seen in weeks. How many chickens do you have again?

Nice little coop- great design and it's so CLEAN compared to most chicken coops! And tell White leghorn it happens to the best of us.

Ki said...

If you get new chickens try the auraucana. They lay multi-colored Easter eggs and they're supposed to be low cholesterol too. We bought some chicks one year but they all turned out to be males! And we were so looking forward to seeing those Easter eggs.

After reading the article below I guess the Auraucana only lays blue eggs. The Easter egg layers are of mixed breed.

meresy_g said...

They do make great pets, don't they? I never ever would have thought that I could be charmed by a chicken. No matter how foul my mood in the morning, those chickens busting out of the door to see what I've brought them makes me smile every time. And being scolded by a chicken is amusing to (if they don't like what I've brought them to eat). I totally know what you mean by the 'evil eye'. I call it 'the stink eye'.

threecollie said...

Ooh, we have those cool high-tech door locks too! And gate hinges just like them!

feathered lawn said...

great coop! looks like you put a lot of work in it. my favorite thing is to sit in the hen house and watch them roost at night. it's funny how th pecking order effects where they get to sleep and who they sleep with. kinda like kids in the cafeteria.

love the nesting box!!!!

Anonymous said...

My chickens used to argue about who got to lay in an old pet carrier I kept in the shed. I would use another to take Banty pullets for my kids' Show and Tell at school.

Rurality said...

Laura, I think they'd sell very well. I was surprised at how many people are aware of them. But we just give ours away because I'm a bit worried about insurance issues.

Vicki, we've got 6 hens and 2 roosters right now. At one time we had about 30 chickens and this coop was fine for that too.

Ki instead of answering here I made a new post about Easter Eggers.

Meredith, that's right - they are really charming!

3C, glad you are up with all the latest high-tech equipment. :)

FL, thanks, yeah the pecking order thing is funny. Chickens aren't much for sentimentality.

Anon, I laugh about how these chickens will actually wait in line to use this box!

vickie said...

I am looking to get a couple of the easter egger chicks, can you tell me where in Alabama I can purchase them ?