Saturday, December 19, 2009

chicken coop update

Between all the rain, our day jobs and the holidays, this has been a very slow project. We had a breakthrough last weekend, though - it actually finally started to look like something!

The walls are up and all the roof trusses are on. This weekend the actual roof will go on, and it will be something of an open-air pavilion. When the walls go up, things might get difficult, psychologically. It will look done, but there will still be so much more to do. Once the walls are in place, we'll need to paint it, install roosts and nest boxes (LOTS), put in windows and hatch doors and frame in the interior walls. This building will be divided into three parts. The door is slightly offset from the center, and will open into a storage area, where we'll keep feed, pine shavings, supplies, etc. Immediately to the left will be another door that opens into the chickens' living quarters, which comprise slightly less than 2/3 of the total area. To the right of the storage area will be the brooder. This side will be enclosed floor to ceiling with wire (most likely with some solid reinforcement across the bottom) and will be used for brooding chicks, raising meat birds, segregating broody moms, newcomers, or anyone else that might need separate quarters. Since we don't plan on getting new chicks anytime soon, it's likely that we'll put newborn goat kids in that area when the nights are cold. It will be something of an all-purpose space.

The coop sits between our two barns, and in front of the goat pen. We'll fence in the area between them, connecting the barns, and that will be the poultry yard. This way Caspian will not have access to the birds (bad dog!) but he'll be close enough to afford them some protection. They'll certainly be much better off than they are now. They'll have access to their fenced yard all the time, and will be let out to free range at our discretion. Part of the motivation for building this coop was not only the need for larger accommodations, but also the need to take back OUR yard. Free ranging poultry is awesome, but it does come at a price. Our front stoop, sidewalk, back stoop and patio (including the chairs and tables) are covered with poop. ALL THE TIME. When you go out to have a nice glass of wine on the patio, and there are pullets roosted in rows on the backs of all the chairs, you know it's time to set some limits. If I can just figure out what to do with the ducks*, we might have a nice place to hang out again, like civilized people.

* Duck poop is grosser, smellier and far, FAR more copious than chicken poop. There's nothing quite like it. I adore the ducks, but four of them make a bigger mess than forty chickens - I kid you not.


  1. Having once had 6 ducks, I'm glad to know that my future chickens will be much less poopie.

  2. Looking good! Did you design the coop yourself? I'm trying to decide the best way to go about learning about construction but I'm not really sure where to get started.

  3. Rene - we have a great book called "Building Animal Housing" that had the basic plans. We then made some changes to suit our particular preferences (i.e. - we made it slightly larger, rearranged the interior walls, decided where we wanted doors to be, etc. I don't know if there's anything like this available to you, but my husband took a weekend long, hands-on carpentry course. That was a big help - he's never done anything like this before.

  4. We took a different route than you naughty chicken confiners. We fenced ourselves in. Yes, that is right we now have a cool victorian garden fence around our house so we are the ones who are no longer free range.