Why not a pre-made Chicken Coop?
Before I even bought my first chickens, I knew I needed a chicken coop. I ended up buying this one on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071VSG8BX/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1 although when I bought mine I think it was listed for $179 and free shipping. I really wasn’t sure if I would even like caring for chickens since I’ve never had them before so I didn’t want to invest a lot of money at first. I have been very disappointed in the quality of the pre-made chicken coop. It was easy to assemble but the quality is not good. I would not recommend it, especially at the inflated price. It’s really not big enough for more than 4-6 hens. The roosting area is not tall enough for true roosting so all my chickens wanted to roost on the roof of this instead of going in it at night. As a result, the weight of the chickens caused the entire coop roof to sag. It’s just not good quality.
The Chicken Run
I also purchased this chicken run: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0811NLQ5M/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1. The pre-made chicken coop fit inside the chicken run. We installed extra chicken wire around the edge of the chicken run and buried it two feet in the ground to deter any predators from digging around the run. So far this has worked! I really like having the additional chicken run. It provides a safe place for the chickens to stay when they are too young to free range. If there are hawks, eagles or owls flying around, the chickens safely retreat to the chicken run where predators can’t get them. My rabbit hutch also fits inside the chicken run. I’ve even let my rabbit free range inside the run with the chickens!
The New Chicken Coop Design
I described the new chicken coop design to my husband and he quickly went to work building it.
The Coop size is 6’6″ High x 10′ Wide x 6′ Deep. The floor is 18″ from the ground. This design matches the end wall dimensions of the Chicken Run. I wanted to be able to attach the chicken run to the coop and install an automatic chicken door to simplify the day to day care of my flock. The floor height allows me to easily muck the coop with a rake and put fresh wood shavings in when I am finished without breaking my back. We only made two nesting boxes because the chickens really just take turns laying eggs in the same box. No need for each to have their own. And so far when I have a broody hen, she lays her eggs in the main part of the chicken coop.
Chicken Coop Interior Design
The interior of the chicken coop was designed for easy cleaning and maintenance. We bought inexpensive vinyl flooring and extended it up the walls 6 inches. I stapled it in place. If I need to wash anything down inside the coop it will dry quickly. Jamey nailed two 2×4 boards at opposing angles to create roosting bars. The chickens love it! I finished the nesting boxes with these rubber mats that can easily be removed to wash: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B092ZBGB1G/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and finished the entire area with pine shavings. Once a month I change these out and add a sprinkle of lime dust to help with odor.
The exterior of the coop is white metal siding and black metal roofing to match our other farm buildings. I wanted to use some old windows as access doors on each side of the coop for easy cleaning access. I also love that I can see inside to check on the hens at night or when it is really cold outside. I can also open the hinged windows to air the coop out on really hot days. The nesting box also has a hinged door to easily collect eggs each day. We used simple hasp latches to secure the hinged windows and doors on the coop.
Some Chicken Coop Must Haves
The automatic chicken door is a game changer! It can be set to close with an evening and morning delay. I don’t have to worry about going to close the coop each night. When we are out of town, the chickens are safe and I don’t have to worry about them. No matter how busy I am, the door opens in the morning and they can all access their food and water. Here is the one we bought: sunsethttps://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08WCKVGR1/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
We do like to travel so an automatic feeder and watering system is definitely on my must have list. We made our own feeder with this locking bucket from Tractor Supply https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/tuff-stuff-feed-and-seed-storage-with-locking-lid-12-gal?cm_vc=-10005 and this kit from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D1B5MD8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1 it holds 60 pounds of chicken feed. With 18 in my flock, this usually lasts around 2 weeks. We also made two five gallon automatic watering buckets with this kit from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D6W2JK8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1Amazon
My final recommendation is the use of this pine pellet for inside the chicken run. Chickens are messy. I tried pine straw for quite a while but within a week the chickens had scratched it into the mud. When we have extended rainy weather, all my eggs ended up covered in mud from the chicken feet in the nesting box. I finally discovered these pine pellets and they are truly wonderful! You spread them out and they become coarse sawdust! They absorb the rain, chicken poop and help keep the flies down too. Check out these before/after pictures:
The cost is actually less than the pine straw so if you haven’t tried this in your chicken run yet, I highly recommend it! Find it at Tractor Supply here: https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/search/pine%20pellets?
My chickens seem pretty happy here! Everyone except my two ducks and two turkeys roost in the Coop every night. So far we have stayed safe from any predators. I am collecting an average of eleven eggs every day right now so some of my friends buy my eggs, helping to offset the chicken feed costs. We love having the chickens free range so we can watch them scratching around for bugs in the yard!