Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chicken Palace

So last year we lived with my folks while we found a place to rent.  So as "rent" we built my folks a chicken coop.  Of course, since I never do things by halves, my husband and I built a big one.   When we moved in my parents had 3 chickens and 1 rooster.  Before we finished the coop we were given 8 more hens and another rooster, so we needed a fair sized coop.  
Our flock - We didn't have roosts yet  ;)

So I went to the library and read every book I could find on chickens.  I really like to be prepared before I begin a project.  Then I started drawing up designs.  Now you have to understand that during this time my parents had taken a trip to Israel, Jordan and Egypt.  It was a three week tour for their 36th anniversary.  This left my husband and I at their house in charge of the minor kids, the chickens and their cows.  So some of my planning was done by email from the US to the Middle East (crazy huh). 

So I get my ideas drawn out and we start getting supplies together.  My brother John was helping me do the heavy lifting.  My husband, the carpenter, took a look at my designs and told me why some of it just wouldn't work the way I had planned.  Of course, I was perfectly willing to get advise from him, because he knows a whole lot more about building than I do.  We really wanted this coop to last after all. 
In place, but we didn't have the nest boxes together yet
So we got to work on the floor to start with.  We framed it all out and then went to work framing out the side walls.  My husband figured with a slanted roof that the easiest way to frame out the end walls was to do it with the floor and side walls in place.  So we put the side walls on the floor, made sure it was all level, and built the side walls.  After all of the parts were assembled, we added the plywood to the walls and floor.  We then took the whole thing apart, because we built it in the barn, and it was way to heavy to carry to the place we were going to erect it.

We still didn't have the nest boxes together, so we put wire mesh over the openings so we wouldn't have to worry about coons.  Next we put the nest boxes together.  This took some figuring.  We wanted to have some storage area in the coop that the chickens could not acsess.  So we placed the nest boxes 18 inches above the floor and made a storage area over the top of the nest boxes that was only accessable from the outside of the coop.  We already had reclaimed cabinet door for using to access the nest boxes from the outside, and these were big enough to access the storage area also.

 As you can see there are no dividers in thestorage area.  This storage area has been awesome!  It allows us to keep some of the things we only use in the coop right there handy. Since it is right next to the garden we can store the small tools there also.  We did a lot of learning by trial and error on the nest boxes, and there are things that I would change after using the coop for a couple of minths.  For one thing at the bottom edge of the nest boxes we installed a solid board and we really should have hinged it to make it easier to clean.
 For those of you who don't know chickens, they are not neat birds.  One of the issues that we have had is that they like to roost in the nest boxes.  Although as the weather warms up this is getting less problematic. 

We placed our coop right next to our greenhouse so that the chickens would have somewhere a little drier to scratch when it was really wet.  To keep them from getting into the garden we fenced the greenhouse with chicken wire and made them a ramp to get from the coop to the greenhouse.

We installed the nest boxes after the chickens had been in the coop about 2 weeks.  We had been having to gather the eggs out of the nests that they made in the litter that we had spread on the floor.  It took us a couple of weeks to train them to use the nest boxes, but it was worth the work. 

After we got the nestboxes installed we had to figure out waterproofing for the outside.  We made a trip to Lowes and found some outside paint on clearance (wrong color).  It was brown, not our first or second choice, but the price was definitely better.
My kids were facinated by this whole process.  So we primed and painted everything.
 Of course we needed a pop of color so we painted the doors a bright red.

All in all, the whole project went very well.  And we still have room for a few more chickens!  ;)


Finished inside and out!













                     

3 comments:

  1. Wow, you guys did an awesome job! My girls would be proud to live in such a house. We began our coop with a small shed that came with our house when we bought the place 13 years ago and continue to make improvements as we go. We did our biggest overhaul this past summer. I love your red doors. Have a wonderful week. I'm visiting from Trans. Thurs. Love, Wanda

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  2. It looks amazing, Lois! Great work! Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week!

    Cheers,
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick
    http://www.The-Chicken-Chick.com

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