Have you ever looked at some of the chicken coops on Pinterest? I know people whose houses are not as nice as some of these coops:
By way of contrast, here is my own coop:
Taken in the late summer, before tarping the run for winter
OK, don’t let the fact that it’s not Pinterest-worthy fool you. It is actually a very good and sturdy coop!
For winter, we placed a tarp over the run roof to keep out snow and made windbreaks by placing straw bales around the edges of the run.
I thought I might take you on a little tour of it in case you’re interested.🐓
First of all, the basic structure of the coop was repurposed from the builder’s shed from when our house was built. We had no idea this shed was even here when we bought the house a few years ago. The house is now 12 years old and the builder shed had become completely overgrown with brush such that we didn’t even know it was here until the autumn after we bought the house.
The view from standing next to the chicken run and looking up toward the path to the driveway
The back of the shed had no vinyl siding, so we painted it with deck and dock paint. Phil cut several windows into the board and installed latches that lock closed with carabiners.
The coop has a second floor which the birds do not have access to. We store bales of clean pine bedding up there.
We used hardware cloth to make an attached predator-proof run.
A hardware cloth skirt extends out about two feet to keep out digging predators.
An old tire full of sand and food-grade diatomaceous earth serves as the run dust bath, which chickens use to keep their feathers free of parasites like lice and mites.
A store bought set of nesting boxes with roosts is attached to one wall. We have far more nesting boxes than nine hens need; three to four hens per nest is all that is necessary.
If you look carefully, you can see a nest full of nice fresh brown eggs
Screen cloth was affixed over the inside of the windows to keep mosquitoes out; hardware cloth covers keep out predators.
We keep a little rake in the coop for stirring droppings into the pine litter on the floor.
Tree stumps and straw bales in the run give the hens something to climb on to alleviate boredom when they are confined.
Phil made the door and added a little kick plate to make it easier to close while carrying things.
Under their sleeping roost, Phil made a droppings table. It is filled with a mixture of sand and zeolite; we keep a kitty litter scoop in the coop and scoop out the droppings table daily. Droppings are disposed of in a black compost can outside the run. After the droppings compost, they will be added to our gardens.
Feed hangs from a carabiner clip. For the winter months, a heated waterer on a cinder block placed inside a plastic bin provides a constant source of water while keeping the floor and litter dry. The coop is not wired for electricity, so Phil ran a very long outdoor extension cord from the garage all the way out to the coop.
Phil made a pop door out of a plastic cutting board so as to avoid the problem of a wooden board warping and not sliding up and down the frame runners properly. He made the pop door runners out of kitchen drawer runners. We close the pop door at night during cold weather but leave it open during warm weather since the run is predator-proof.
Happy pullets eating kitchen scraps in the summer. We have created a deep litter floor over the dirt run by raking out soiled coop pine bedding into the run and tossing in shredded leaves, old straw, shredded paper junk mail, garden scraps, and any other kind of organic matter we have. The chickens scratch around in it looking for tasty bugs to eat, which helps turn the bedding to cover their droppings, which prevents the run from getting smelly.
All around the coop I planted herbs that have traditionally been used to repel poultry pests and parasites, including mint, lavender, oregano, pennyroyal, and wormwood. In the summer months, I toss sprigs of herbs into the nesting boxes. I also planted Borage flowers and Russian comfrey to provide yummy forage for the hens.
A few pictures of our flock, with breed listed, out to free range on this cold, windy March day:
Plymouth Barred Rock
Starting from the bottom: Rhode Island Red, Buff Orpington, Silver-Laced Wyandotte, Golden-Laced Wyandotte
Hope you enjoyed this little coop tour!🐥