Friday, May 13, 2011

Best chicken coop ever

thick layer of chicken dust that now covers
everything in my house
It's done. Finally. The most beautiful and way too over-planned well thought out chicken coop ever. I started planning 3 months ago. I used Google Sketchup, I made excel check lists, I budget planned, material planned and searched through any blog that mentioned chickens for any pertinent information available. I purchased the chickens April 1st. They rapidly grew out of their blue plastic bin and we moved them into our large dog cage converted brooder. Slowly their dust and stench took over not only the back room they were in but my entire house and then my life. My decision to raise chickens turned into doubt. Would this coop ever get built? Would I be destined to become a redneck with chickens permanently living in my house? Why not tie up some goats in the kitchen and raise catfish in the bathtub at this point. I had sudden urges to chew tobacco and buy a straw hat - I MUST get these chickens out of my house! And then, just at my breaking point, the husband came through and put in three straight long days and finished the coop.

ramp platform
He did a few things different than what he did for my moms chicken coop. We extended the actual coop house by one foot making it a 5' x 4' structure. Since our chickens will be free range most of the time this gives us a little more room when they roost at night. The ramp from the coop into the fenced run seemed too steep so he added a platform half way down giving it a nice tri-level feel.

custom branch roosts
The roosts in the fenced run are my favorite. Hubby put some real time and thought into them. I always think I need to be there supervising so that everything gets done right, but he sure can surprise me with some nice creative touches on his own when left to make decisions for himself. Who knew huh? He made somewhat of a ladder style row of roosts out of thick sticks from the yard. He also used sticks to add in two lower roosts in the corners of the run. It looks great and it works great.

Again we are using the deep litter method. I marked a 6" line on the wall of coop so I can keep the bedding at around 6" all the time as it begins to compost down. I bought one of those plastic rake pitch fork style things to turn the bedding over. The idea is that as it composts down, as long as I keep turning it under and there is proper ventilation the moisture will stay under control and (theoretically) their will be little to no smell and the chickens will be happy. And I will be happy. Theoretically.

deep litter method with the rake to turn it under

The hubby made the pop door a little different this time around. He tried a removable door, again on the side of the coop. To be honest, it might get annoying but the beauty of such a simple coop is it's always possible to make changes to fit our needs. For now it works fine and I'm just excited the coop is done!

hardware cloth open top with plywood
to keep some heat in while it's still cold 

The Garden Coop style we used has an open hardware cloth top. It is still cold at night in Michigan, low of 35-40 degrees some nights, so the hubby cut a piece of particle board to lay on top to keep some of the warm air in. I did not want to cover the entire top of the roof area, proper ventilation is apparently even more important than warmth. Right now I am also closing the pop door at night to keep warmth in and also to teach the chickens to stay in that is their 'new home.'

All this time, hard work, planning and effort for just seven chickens. You think they would be chirping our praises. You would think they would be all over those custom crafted stick/ladder roosts. It's possible I have estimated the intelligence of my 'advanced' chickens a little too much. I like to think it's not that they aren't appreciative of the effort we put into their new home, but just that they're kinda dumb.

Happy chicks!
view from our deck

inside view from the main cleaning door
showing the roosts and hanging feeder

predator proof coop

outside nest boxes on The Garden Coop
style with a Plexiglas window

happy chickens

high handle to keep the youngin' out


Diane Wilson, LCPC said...

Wow! This is some blog Janice. Nice way to figure out what you're doing. Hoping all is well. Aunt Diane

tonstr258 said...

Nice thought. It is very helpful for chickens.

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