It’s been a several month process but the girls are finally in their new coop!
I’m not going to lie – we were super lucky in getting this “chicken coop”! All I can say is if you’re wanting frugal ways to house/setup your flock, get to know your community and put feelers out for used items. There are people who would like small buildings off their property for cheap, maybe even free, if you’re willing to put the work into moving them. We also swiped the dog kennel from Raisin (our farm dog) who never used it.
For those who didn’t read the captions or want more information:
- The exterior still needs some work – we used dog kennel panels as the fence around the coop. It’s super nice as it’s about 6-feet tall, making it more difficult for coyotes to get to the chickens. Hawks, minks and other smaller predators could still get in. The place where the coop is situated is on the floor where a grain bin was. It’s not level, plus it has a drop off the concrete. This meant we had to make fence “spacers” between the kennel panels on the ground and the building on the concrete. It was a bit of a challenge to figure out what to use but we recently had some excess barn wood and it kind of goes with the building!
- The building was wired to be used as a concession stand, so it had plenty of outlets and breakers installed before we got it. If you’re starting a building from scratch I would recommend putting in at least a couple breakers just in case. I’m not an electrician and have limited experience, but heat lamps can draw a lot of energy; the bigger the building the more heat sources you may need for your flock – assuming you want to provide heat; yes, they can survive our winters without heat, but we like making them more comfy! It would give you more options for heat, lights, if you wanted an incubator in the same area, etc.
- One drawback on this coop is ventilation and natural lighting. Ventilation for winter will be fine, but we wish there were a couple windows to allow natural light in. Since they’re set for winter it will have to be a spring/summer project. It will also allow more airflow in the hot summer.
- The roost isn’t perfect and I may decide to change it, but for some reason our girls tend to roost on the floor. Any ideas why?? I would prefer them to use the roost as where they like to lay on the floor is right in front of the chicken wire door and it gets messy there pretty quickly!
- I wanted to be able to keep the feed in the same building with them (before it was stored in the garage). I also didn’t want to open the building door and encounter chickens just in case they decided to try to escape. So we built the little storage area for feed and supplies. This also means I could leave the coop door open during the summer to let in air and light but keep the girls penned up.
- Space. Everybody has a different theory on how much space a chicken needs. We currently have 27 chickens with more on the horizon. I’m not sure I would want much more than 35-40 in the coop because it seems like the less area they have, the more they get picked on. Yes, more chickens could fit in our coop based on square-foot-per-bird theory, but from working with livestock I prefer to watch how the chickens interact more than go by a hard number. We also have a good sized run for them, but they will have the grass picked in no-time. They have been loose in the yard but it’s only a matter of time before the hawks come. Plus, I’m not sure we really want 40+ chickens loose in the yard. It would be nice to restrict their area so they can fertilize and “till” specific areas. To do this we need to look at other fencing options, such as electric poultry netting.
- How do they get from the coop to the pen? A handy “guillotine door” my dad and I constructed! He has two on his small coop and open them depending on which way the wind is coming from (they’re on opposite sides). This is a north-facing door, which isn’t ideal, but it seemed like the best option when looking at the layout of the fence and building. Right now I manually put it up and down, placing a piece of plywood under it to keep it open. We have thought about running a pulley system to keep it up and run it from the storage area but this works fine.
It is such a relief to have the girls in a nice, warm building for the winter! The corn crib was a great start, but it was getting a bit too drafty and we didn’t have electric available.
Now we need to name it!!
And that’s where YOU come in! We want to run a contest for naming the new chicken coop! More information will be available on our Facebook page, but here’s the gist: submit your coop names by Monday, December 14, 2020. We will choose our favorite three and post the names. You can vote until Monday, December 21. The person who submits the winning name will receive a $25 gift card to Optimal Health! (If you are not local we’ll send you something fun in the mail, so be sure to WATCH our post and have a way for us to contact you!) Optimal Health is a great little shop in Princeton, offering awesome health products and gluten free options. We have been lucky enough to offer our eggs in their store as well!
As always – we love our Farm Family and are so grateful for your support! Merry Christmas and many blessings for the New Year!