My Chicken Coop

A friend of mine built my chicken coup for me.  He wanted me to be able to easily move the coop around my yard, and the 4 x 8 foot dimension makes it perfect for placing over 4 x 8 raised beds if desired.  When you have the 8 foot lengths of lumber to work with it cuts down on the sawing of shorter lengths too.  He also helped me build the nesting boxes which my hens love.  Initially I wanted to have the coop in a corner of my back area where I could keep them fenced in, but I learned that first winter that if you keep chickens fenced in an enclosed area that area will turn to poopy mud.  Now I have moved my coop to another corner of my yard where my son’s sandbox used to be.  I think it’ll be a great idea to have sand in their coop and around it so when it rains it won’t kick up a lot of mud around my coop. It’ll also make it easier to rake out poop and keep clean.

I allow my chickens to roam freely in the back area of my yard so they just poop everywhere instead of in one enclosed area.   Their poop fertilizes the grass and there is no smell.  Plus, I never have to rake up chicken poop outside the coop. I’ve let the grass grow so there is better habitat for bugs and worms.  When it gets out of control I’ll mow it.  I also plan to let them into portions of my veggie beds when I am not growing anything.  I have had to set up wire fencing around the areas where I do not want my hens roaming since they eat everything and mess up my neat beds. For now I have a new area that I am preparing for next year, and my hens are allowed to be in there.  They are churning it up really nicely for me and adding their good poop to it.

In the back of the coop I can open up the board to access the nesting boxes without having to go into the coop.  Below that area I am able to open the lower panel to access the feed and water troughs.  I usually just keep a couple water containers out in the open area for my hens, and in the summer when it’s dry I throw their scratch grain on the ground.  I keep the other grain in the coop because it needs to stay dry. 

I keep a garbage bin next to my coop that is full of straw that I use to layer their nesting boxes with.   When I built the nesting boxes, I thought it was a good idea to have an area overhead where the chickens could roost.  Chickens need to be able to roost higher up as that is their natural behavior.  It keeps them safer from predators.  The only problem with the shelf space over their boxes, is that it gets layered with poop, so I do have to keep that area cleaned off frequently.  I am currently trying to come up with an idea that will make it easier to keep that area free from poop. 

I use mop handles for the roosting poles.  I stick them through the holes where they rest perfectly, and they are the perfect dimension for the chickens’ claws.  They like to roost on them.  The ladder I fashioned out of old pieces of lumber, and I raised it a bit of the ground so the chickens wouldn’t have such a steep incline to walk up to their boxes. It’s worked out really well.  Somehow we all just grew into it and I’m guessing my chickens are happy because they use their boxes and they seems to easily use everything else in the coop.

The photo seen here with the lamp is from last winter.  I was really concerned that my chickens might be too cold during the days when it was snowing and below freezing, and I also wanted to keep some more light in their coops to encourage them to keep laying eggs.  I’m not sure if that was even necessary.  I heard that chickens won’t lay so many eggs when they don’t get enough hours of light, but I kept getting plenty of eggs all winter, so I guess that isn’t a problem in Oregon.  Maybe the lamp did help.  I don’t know for sure.

This last photo shows how I currently have the feeding situation in the coop.  One of the hens is walking up the ladder in order to check out the fresh straw I put in there.  She made a lot of noise, but I think she was happy because she proceeded to enter a box afterward and layed me an egg.  My next modification will be to place an overhang above the feeding and water buckets in order to make sure that no chicken poop falls from above onto the feeding shelf below.  I am also considering making a large enclosed box to place above the nesting boxes so that the straw will stay more contained and also prevent poop from falling below.  I am also thinking about placing plastic liners under the straw to make for easier cleaning and better sanitation conditions.  The food and water containers will always be in the coop over the winter when it’s raining, snowing and cold, to keep it all dry, and in case I need to shut my chickens in.  I may even invest in a heater for the water bucket since the water freezes at 30 degrees. I am not sure if I need to set up a heat lamp this year since it really doesn’t get that cold here during the winter, and I think my chickens get enough light during the daytime.  Even the shortest day during the winter they get a full 9 hours of light, so I’ll wait and see what happens and how cold it gets before dealing with that.

My next post will get into even further detail about the features of my chicken coop.

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2 Comments to My Chicken Coop

  1. Pam Nash's Gravatar Pam Nash
    November 16, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I like this website, and your posts on chickens is really fun to look at. You have a lot of good ideas. I look forward to checking you out some more later.

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