I have wanted chickens for a few years now, but due to circumstance, I was not able to get them until recently. I spent much of that time thinking about what type of coop I would make when I got the chance and I was super lucky that my dad was visiting and willing to build it!
There are many things that went into planning my chicken coop. There are tons of different chicken coop designs: tractors, A-frames, hoops, walk-in, recycled, and more! There are lots of ways to build a chicken coop and none of them are wrong. When you set out to build your chicken coop make a list of what you are looking for and then design it based on your list. With that in mind, this is what I wanted in my chicken coop:
- Walk-in style. I wanted to be able to walk into the coop to clean.
- Easy to clean.
- Big enough for 6 chickens, but able to add a few more if I wanted to.
- Cute. Since I live in a neighborhood I wanted something less farm and more pet.
- Easy to care for and set up so that we can leave on short trips without having to worry about getting a chicken babysitter.
- Cool (as in not hot). Living in Arizona means the chickens will have to deal with some pretty hot weather. I needed something that will allow for lots of shade and ventilation.
- Predator-proof (as best as I can). We have lots of flying predators as well as snakes, coyotes, and the possibility of dogs. Ultimately I would like to free-range the flock while we are outside, but I want the coop itself to be very safe.
This one was easy to accommodate. The “run” section of the coop slopes from six foot to eight foot and has a door. The “coop” section slopes from seven feet to five feet.
Easy to Clean
I have heard some great things about the deep liter method, but ultimately I choose sand as the “bedding”. It is cheap (will really only need new sand added once per year or so and even then a bucket or bag should be good enough). The sand I choose is a heavier than play sand. It is actually the largest size “sand” you can get before they start calling it gravel. I did that because we get very high winds here and I didn't want the sand blowing away. When I clean (twice a week or so) I rake everything into the center (the poop is caught by the rake and the sand is not) then I use a kitty scoop to get everything and dump it in the compost. That is the other reason this method works for me – I can put the straight poop in the compost without adding bedding material. My compost isn't huge and could get overwhelmed by bedding material quickly.
Big enough for 6 chickens, able to accommodate more
I went with the 4 square feet for coop and 10 square feet for the run rule. They are able to comfortably be housed in the coop that way, but I still have the option of free-ranging. I would rather avoid the social issues that come with housing animals in too-small spaces and a large reason why I want to raise animals on my homestead is I like knowing the animals had a “good life”. Part of my definition of a “good life” is enough space that they do not pick on each other, not simply more space than a commercial operation.
With those space requirements in mind, I needed a 24 square foot coop and 60 square foot run. I decided to raise my coop so they would have extra run space under the coop and use the dimensions of the lumber I would have to purchase so I had little waste. Plywood is sold in 4 foot by 8 foot sheets and most lumber is sold in 8, 10, and 12 foot sections. With that in mind, I made the coop 35 square feet (32 square feet with three outside egg boxes) and the run 8 x 12 feet, or 96 square feet. Big enough for 9-10 chickens.
I tried to add little touches to make it more “residential neighborhood” and less “farm”. I didn't do anything that cost extra: the leftover roofing was used to create awnings, a rooster was added to the door with leftover plywood, and the word Eggs was painted on the egg box. I also painted the entire coop (with free paint).
Easy to care for and the ability to leave on short trips without a chicken “babysitter”
I added some great features to help this! The feeders each have outside access so they can be filled without going into the coop. They each hold about 2.5 weeks worth of feed for a single chicken (and there are three of them) so a full coop of 9-10 hens would need fed every 5-6 days. I also have a water system set up that is also filled from outside the coop and holds 5 gallons of water. It is fed into the coop using pvc pipe and the chickens have access to three nipples in the run and two more in the coop. Since the run itself is predator proof I do not have to worry about locking the chickens in at night (except for the days I let them range in the yard), which means they can come and go as they please. I would feel comfortable having to leave for a weekend and not have to get somebody to check the chickens.
Cool (as in Temperature!)
I have lots of ventilation in my coop. One side is open completely to the run and the roof is sloped on both sides to allow for more shade. There are also ventilation screens at the top of the coop where the roof slants up so that the hot air can escape.
I hope this coop is predator proof! I used hardware cloth instead of chicken wire and I also used it on the bottom of the entire structure.
So there you have it! I'll get into the specifics on how it was built (and how much it cost) soon.
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Submitted to Green Thumb Thursday