My wife and I tried our hand at chickens about 3 years ago. We loved having them, but we made some mistakes in our setup that ended in the termination of our chicken ownership. We mixed aggressive and passive breeds, had a big coop that was built by a rookie, and our run was in a damp area that bred mosquitos. Our poor girls were featherless on their butts from brutal attacks from the other chickens establishing dominance. They would go to sleep at night and get eaten alive by mosquitos since they had no feathers to protect them. In addition, I built the first coop with a chicken cloth bottom to “make cleaning easier”. So, Craigslist helped me offload the chickens and the coop in about 2 hours! Ever since, we’ve missed having them.
We believe in repurposing whatever God gives us. “If it can be used for something else don’t throw it out,” is one of our mottos. For about a year and a half we’ve been watching the price of eggs go up and talking about our girls and how we would do it differently next time. Little did I know that my big opportunity was rotting in my backyard!
After Hurricane Katrina, I bought a 2 decker, wooden swing-set with a slide and playhouse on top. Lately, the kids have been telling me how the boards are bowing and they feel like they’re going to break. The bottom deck was starting to rot and the boards on top were probably at the end of life. I decided to take it down, but noticed that the playhouse on top was still in great condition.
I was looking at the playhouse through my living room window one day and BOOM! “That’s the new chicken coop!” I then recruited one of the boys to help me separate the playhouse from the rest of the unit so we could inspect it. It was a go!
Below is a list of our requirements for part 2. It’s very dorky, but necessary to make sure we make the coop we want this time. The underlined requirements are our lessons learned from coop #1.
To get farm fresh eggs by creating a healthy, mostly bug free environment (inside the coop) for 6-9 chickens that will also fertilize our raised garden beds.
- Coop will have a chicken door.
- Coop will have a human door to run.
- Coop will have a human access door to coop.
- All doors should have latches.
- Chicken door should have a critter-proof latch.
- External nesting boxes with doors.
- 2-3 nesting boxes.
- Access will not require entering coop.
- Easy to clean floor.
- Chickens should not be able to poop into nest boxes from perches.
- Should be able to feed without entering coop/run.
- Watering can be done through human door.
- Water needs to be hidden from sunlight.
- External access to feeder to feed table scraps.
- Can be moved by no more than 3 people.
- Should be able to fit 6-9 chickens.
- Minimal obstructions inside coop.
- Floor must be removable for cleaning and easy access to inside of coop for maintenance.
- Floor must support sand/shavings.
- Perches must be above nesting boxes
- Enough room for 6-9 birds to perch.
- Open spaces protected with chicken cloth and screen where possible.
- At least 2 windows that can be closed/covered during winter.
- Windows must be protected with chicken cloth and mesh screen.
- Wind blockers can be added to windows during really cold nights.
- Coop should be elevated from ground.
I must admit, as time went on, I wanted to deviate from the original plan by cutting corners and making “good enough” modifications to it. However, I kept getting pulled away from this project by football, cheerleading, band practice, etc. and I had a lot of time to think about it.
The rest of the blog post will be a chronological series of pictures with details in the captions. If you have any questions please email me. I could not have made this coop without all the blog posts and advice I read from backyard chicken forums and such.