A month ago I introduced you to the adorable fluff balls known as Fred, Cuddles and the rest of the girls. AKA, our baby chicks. In just 4 weeks these formerly tiny chicks have morphed into big birds with fully functional wings. And once chicks start flying around the living room, it’s time they move outside.
My husband & I had to build a coop, and fast. But having never owned chickens before, let alone built a coop, we needed to do a little research before starting construction. We read a few books and found a photo of a coop we really liked. A quick Google search turned up plans for the “Playhouse Coop” shown below.
Pretty? You bet! Only problem? As written, the playhouse coop will house 5 large chickens. We have six. Like humans, chickens need adequate space or they get cranky and start to fight. So we set the plans aside and decided to build our own improvised version of the Playhouse Coop using the photo as reference and making the rest up as we went along. As the chickens say: Just Wing It!
Step One: The frame.
My husband (God Bless Him) laid everything out and did the cutting. I just sweated and held things in place. Together we got it done.
Next Step? Roof installation. Unfortunately our 2nd trip to Home Depot ended in an extended trip to the emergency room. NOTE: flat metal roofing is deadly.
… 8 stitches & four hours later…
All patched! PS: The stitches are now out and the cut is healing nicely. My daughter is not a fan of the ER though she is now quite fond of surgical gloves.
Next day? Back to Home Depot. Feel free to scroll back up and take a gander at that leg. You’ll thus understand why we spent quite a bit of time avoiding the metal roofing aisle, finally enlisting the aid of a sales clerk to load said sheeting onto our cart, while the ladies and I cowered 10 ft away. My husband kept instructing us all to STAND BACK as though the roofing would leap from the cart and attack us. We then got another Home Depot guy to help load it onto my husband’s car, while we waited in another car altogether. YOU CANNOT BE TOO CAREFUL WITH THAT FLAT METAL ROOFING.
Next up? Roof supports. I didn’t get any actual photos of the roof supports going up b/c I was too busy holding them while my husband screwed them in place. After that we started assembling the chicken house. Here’s the back.
I love this window! Not only is it super cute, but it allows us to spy on the chickens! I mean, it allows the chickens to look out (
and US to look IN !) The large window also filters in as much sunlight and warmth as possible, which, living in MAINE, will prove crucial when it’s 10 below. Not quite as great on days like today (over 90 degrees), but you can’t have everything…
Next up? Nest boxes.
They may look like magazine holders, but not for long.
2 nest boxes per side, plenty roomy for 6 chickens. Chickens like to roost while relaxing, but the pecking order ensures they fight for the highest perch. To try to ward off competition (and save the chickens nesting below from a crap-fest), we placed shelves over the boxes AND hung supports for two wide wooden perches.
AND since the whole point of keeping chickens (apart from their fabulous personalities and free fertilizer) is, of course, FRESH EGGS! we cut egg retrieval doors in each side of the hen house structure, strategically positioning the doors in the middle for easy access to both nesting boxes.
Onto roof installation. You see from the photos below that my husband handled this strictly by himself. FEEL FREE TO SCROLL BACK UP & LOOK @THE LEG.
You can also see from the pictures that the front of the hen house has a hinged door. Since our chickens eat like pigs, they produce a lot of waste matter which must be cleaned out at least once a week. The hinged door lifts and locks in place, making these weekly coop-cleanings a breeze (save for the chicken poo). The front of the house also has a little door w/ ladder to allow the chickens to climb in and out at will. My husband’s homemade ladder is lovely.
After finishing the box and roof, we moved onto wiring. Not electricity but SECURITY! We have many hungry predators cruising the yard just waiting for a tasty chicken morsel to come their way. We wired not only the sides of the cage, but the ground. That’s right! We extended the wire all the way to the ground, surrounding the house with, in essence, a wire moat, making it virtually impenetrable to even the wiliest of foxes (or chipmunks – who previously had been breaking in by digging beneath the frame. NO MORE FOOD FOR YOU!)
We even installed a rope perch & bowls for our conure, Kiwi, so she can hang out w/ the hens on hot days.
Here is the finished coop. We still have plans to paint it, but that’s on hold at present. Last weekend we moved the structure onto a pressure-treated wooden base, surrounded by river rocks. For now it is DONE.