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When we started out it was with 12, one month old pullets (5 Australorps, 5 Lt Brahmas, and 2 White Silkies.) My husband and son built the coop from recycled wood, old mutton bar windows, and left over tin. They used old hardware (hinges and door pulls) as much as possible. Here they are working on the coop, Day Three…
Several days later things are progressing nicely. The guys have stopped building the coop to go to work. One morning, I heard our old english bull dog barking in the front hallway. I couldn’t figure out what he was so worked up about. I looked out the screen door and this is what I saw…
Two baby raccoon kits standing on one of the old windows. I looked around the yard for the momma and saw another baby standing near an oak tree and then I found a forth one climbing on a pile of scrap wood.
There was no mother anywhere around. The babies just kept walking closer and closer to me and then darling son came home and all four kits got gathered up and put into an old storage tub, to wait for the wildlife refuge volunteer to come.
That was a cute diversion but they had to go ’cause we had chickens coming and those adorable little babies will grow up to want chicken dinner at our house. Not going to happen on my watch!
Well back to work boys. Wow, ya’ll are almost finished! It’s looking great. This coop is 4 feet deep and 7 feet long, plenty of room for a dozen growing chickens. We just need to get it painted inside and out.
It’s a good thing because just a few days’ later we got the baby chicks and here they are inside their new coop.
Finished! Well we thought we were nearly finished, just needed to paint the outside. However, those dozen chickens quickly got reduced to seven because of some mortality due to a respiratory disease we brought home from the seller. We talked with him and he gave us more chickens to replace the ones we lost, plus some. So now the coop needed to be big enough for TWENTY + chickens, Oh my gosh!!!
Enlarging the Coop – So Soon?
So my darling and handy husband got to work removing the nest box access to build an addition on to the coop. While he was working on that, I was doctoring the chickens and watching over the week old hatchlings in our make-shift brooder box (large plastic storage tub.)
The addition has lengthened the coop from seven feet to twelve feet and it’s turned out very nicely. We have 3 roosts inside made out of 2 by 4s. There are 2 hanging feeders and 2 hanging water fountains. The pop door is in the front and we have room to build the new nest boxes to the left of it. He gave us access doors on the back side and each opening has two doors that open out to each side. Those doors basically open up the whole back side of the coop. This makes it very easy to maintain. We finally got the painting finished. The coop is painted a light blue-green shade and the trim is white and dark green.
There is a large screened ventilation area above two of the back doors for ventilation.
The run is made from recycled wood too and is surrounded with 1 inch poultry wire. The entire top is covered with fused plastic netting and half of the run is covered with a tarp for rainy days. This is really a temporay run and is secure for the day time around here. Definately not predator proof at night. We lock the chickies in at sundown. The run has several perches and another feeder and water fountain. It’s about 20 by 14 feet in size but only 5 feet high in most of it. There is a section that we were able to raise the netting to 8 feet with a 2×4 and that helps a lot. Next Spring the new run will be higher.
We have hardware cloth screens inside all of the windows and the ventilation area. The windows on both ends of the coop provide great flow through ventilation when the weather is hot. The chickens love to sit on the roosts and look out the windows. All of the windows are hinged above and lift up to open. We use hooks and bungees that have several knots in the cord so that we can control how much the windows open. This works really well and provides a sort of awning above the windows when it’s raining outside.
We named this coop, Cirque de Poulet. Why? Because there is always something going on here, someone grew up and laid and egg, someone else escaped the run, another one got hurt trying to escape the little man Jackson (our frizzle banty roo in the pic above), someone else isn’t feeling well, one of the older girls wants to sit on my lap or shoulder or head, the list goes on and on, it’s a chicken circus around here.
While on this chicken adventure we have learned a lot of things. One thing we learned, chickens love windows during the day but don’t like windows at night. All the chickens would huddle in the darkest corner to sleep. They would get underneath the roosts and pile up together and fuss and carry on for a really long time before finally going to sleep. Needless to say that if they are all in piled on top of each other, someone or ones is going to get p**ed on,Yuk!
So we decided to make window blinds for the coop windows. I know, we are ‘over done’ aren’t we? I made the blinds double thick with the back side made of unbleached canvas and the front side is an adorable chicken print. There are grommet holes in each corner and we have hooks outside the windows for the blinds.
The blinds can be open half-way or closed and completely covering the window openings. They can be used over a closed window or we can hook them under an open window for hot summer nights. We found that we only needed to cover the two end windows at night. The window in the picture above has a bright security light that shines into it and the window on the other end faces the road with lots of moving headlights at night. The window around the corner in the picture just faces into the yard and it’s fairly dark at night. The chickens seem to like the blinds because now they all sleep on the roosts (well most of them do, we still have the silkies sleeping on the floor in a cute little pile.)
We still need to build the nest boxes, which will bump out the side of the coop, to the left of the pop door.
But several other projects have come up unexpectedly and pushed the nest boxes back on the list.
Our First Egg!
In the mean time one of my favorite hens, Fiona, started to lay!
She is a beautiful Australorp and very affectionate. Here is her first egg!
So now we needed a nest box, and quickly. Chicken mom to the rescue!
I went out to the garage to see what I could use.
Hmmmmmmm, no empty milk crates, no available 5 gallon buckets.
Oh! What about this desk file folder insert? It has two compartments, okay.
I know the chickens will hop up on the sides and poo so I’ll have to put some sort of top over it.
I can use a piece of this old tarp, and those left over pieces of PVC tubing, some hot glue and away we go.
Yep in no time at all, I had a cute little double sided nest box, that will work until Chicken Dad can get the real ones finished.
Fiona likes to sing the egg song after she’s laid an egg.
She gets Jackson the banty roo all worked up and then he starts singing. So what are they singing you ask?
Their version of the Barry Manilow song, Copa Cabana.
Things We Liked About This First Coop
1. The way it looked
2. The back side, which, could be completely opened up to clean, fill feeders and water fountains, check on chickens, etc.
3. The windows – so the chickens could look out, to get fresh air and to cool the coop during hot summer days and nights
4. The window blinds
5. It’s off the ground (flood protection, rodent deterrent) and the floor is hip high so it’s easy to reach into for maintenance chores
Things We Changed or Learned
1. Put a rain gutter under the roof line in the front of the coop, and channel the water out of the run or into a rain barrel
2. The roof pitch is too steep
3. The tin roof is great and matches the roof on our old farm house BUT the coop is under 4 old oak trees. The sound of acorns hitting the roof gets amplified inside the coop. Glad the coop isn’t underneath the Magnolia tree, that would sound like bombs dropping
4. We originally used regular metal window screen inside the windows. It trapped too much dirt and feathers, so we took it out and use the 1/2″ hardware cloth as the screen – good predator protection too
5. The run needs to be high enough for both of us to be able to stand in so we can rake it out and do other maintenance chores.