We have had hens for a few years now and we desperately needed a new coop. The old one started out as a temporary home which lasted for a few more years than we originally intended. One of those aluminum sheds that you can find cheap almost anywhere. We got ours really cheap- a friend was giving it away.
It worked well, once we insulated it and added a window and 2 doors for the girls. We added chicken wire fencing across the door section so that we could have a screened in area and be able to leave the 2 sliding doors open in the summer. Well, long story short, we needed a new coop.
Last summer was the time. Hubby spent hours pouring over chicken coop specs and other coop plans. We had decided at the beginning that we liked the idea of 2 sides of the coop. Meaning that we could let the girls out on one side of the run for a time and then in the other. The goal was to have one side a garden area that they could clean up and fertilize and the other a planted, in use garden. So our coop is alongside our garden area.
Currently, there is only one side with the plan to add another garden bed on the opposite side of the coop at some point.
We have a shed that we took down from a Craigslist add a few years ago, which is our rabbit house. That forms the west border side of our coop. In it, we have a small fenced in area, that can be shut off from the main coop, where we can add chicks or older hens.
Or 5 roosters that we thought might be hens. Always question the giver of free “chickens”.
Here are some pictures of the construction.
Hubby drew up the plans, decided on the sizes that we needed based on the amount of girls we have, and built the house. We used some windows left from when we replaced windows on our old house some time ago. (Like when the youngest boy was born, 13 years ago.)
We used hardware cloth this time, because we learned, and have read, that chicken wire does not hold up in the long run. And critters can indeed, cut through it. We created the panels by laying out the 2×4 frames in the sizes we needed, and attaching the hardware cloth to it. Then we installed them. We also buried a length of hardware cloth under the panels to deter critters from digging. In general, we don’t seem to have much of a problem with critters of that sort. It’s the hawk that is more of a problem. But we don’t want to have to do it again if we do have a problem.
We created a small door in the garden side of the bed, that we can open to let the hens in. It works great, now that we created the same kind of fence panels that we did for the run. They are taller than the chicken wire fencing we had there, so they keep them inside the garden area much better. If one gets out here and there, I don’t worry too much. They seem to find their way back eventually.
The run ends up being 16×12 or so, with a 20×40 garden area they can occasionally have access to. Especially now that some of it is new garden area. I am letting the girls do the heavy lifting of cleaning up the grass and “rototilling” up the dirt and layers. I use a sort of “Lasagna” type garden approach. I have layers of cardboard, newspaper, leaves, composted manure, wood chips, chicken poop, kitchen scraps- produce only and egg shells down for my planting area. Right now, its too wet to work thanks to all the rain we have had, so the girls are doing a good job of preparing the soil.
We covered the run and the coop with metal roofing panels that we got when hubby and the boys took down and unused shed at our shop.
The coop itself is a 2 room setup. We have a small feed and supply room that the nest boxes open up to. We have 5 boxes that I can clean easily and add more shavings or shredded paper to. Right now I am using more shredded paper because I have access to it. I also have a huge pile of wood chips that I got from the construction going on, on the road in front of our house. They had to take several trees down, so I asked for the chips. They brought me a truckload! Sweet!! I am using that in the coop for bedding right now, along with the paper shreds and it seems to be working pretty well.
The girls area, is 8×8, which seems to be enough, even when the weather is really cold and they are kept inside. We have the 2 windows, which I mentioned earlier, on the south side and one on the west. We put a vent on the roof to pull the bad air out and keep good air flow going inside the coop.
It seems to be warm enough, now that I figured out that we need to plastic the windows in the winter because they leak just enough. Inside, I decorated a little bit and we installed a roosting rack. Outside, I will paint this summer with the rabbit house painted to match. I also want to make the outside coop walls pretty with hanging baskets and decorations. I have 9 colors of paint to use that we bought last year hoping to get it done then. I have a few ideas, but we will see what happens.
Stay tuned for that process.