Which came first the chicken or the coop?
In our case the chickens!
Our first feathered friends arrived May 1rst. They are, from what I understand, called a Golden Comet. The father was a Rhode Island Red and the mother a Barred Rock.
We went to pick them up on Chick Day at our local feed store. My two little guys were spell bound listening to 800 little peeping feather babies!
This is our little flock of 9 on May 1, 2009!
This is where the coop will be - May 2!
I can't believe how big the girls are getting already! We are in TROUBLE!
This is reassuring!
We began by smoothing down several loads of gravel to create a flat pad. Next we installed several cement blocks and made a frame out of 4x4's. We attached 2x6's to the 4x4's. This created a ledge on which to attach the vertical joists. The overall size of the floor was 12'x8'.
The walls went up much faster with the help of two additional pairs of hands!
The walls were covered with pressed board. The roof was built and we wrapped it in tar paper.
Looking warm and cozy!
Hurry up, we are getting big! (2 weeks old) This was the girls' first visit to the big world outside!
While daddy is busy building the coop, my little guys and I have been building the accessories!
The nesting boxes,
and the flower box for the front window.
The insulation has been added, and the plywood has been installed! I lymed the walls, ceiling and all of the seams. We built a small room for raising a couple of meat birds. I'm not sure if we will be able to actually do that now that we are chicken crazy, but that is the intention of the room. Right now it is used for storage. We added a vent in each end of the gables and screened it off securely.
The little 4'x6' room was finished off quickly so that we could get the girls out of their cardboard condo! They had a great time exploring!
The nesting boxes have also been lymed. We installed them and attached hinges and a pitch roof for easy access. The pitch was supposed to keep the girls off the boxes, but they still sneak up there We have also added a roosting bar to the front of the nesting boxes. You can also see that we stapled linoleum flooring to the floor boards and wrapped it up the side. We covered the raw edges with trim board.
The outside door was installed and a screen door was rescreened with 1/4" wire mesh. We added a removable board near the bottom for keeping the shavings inside and for easy removal of the shavings when it is time to clean. Thanks to the BYC member for this suggestion! The girls love to sit in front of the screen door and look out.
We installed two windows and built wooden frames to go on the interior side. The frames are on hinges and are covered in 1/4" wire mesh. We open the windows, latch the wooden frames, and know that the girls are getting lots of fresh air while being safe from predators.
Next we installed the droppings board and roosts. I saw something similar on one the BYC member pages and thought it looked super - and it was! I love this section of our coop. We used some recycled 2x4's and plywood to make the droppings board. We installed it and wrapped it in linoleum. Then we lymed and installed two 2x4's for roosts. The girls do not fight at all on the boards and seem content to cuddle in together. The roosts were placed at a height that they could look out the window and were installed with the 4" side horizontal to make sure their toes are covered by their bellies if it gets cold in the winter. A ramp was attached to the roost for easy access. They can now fly but still prefer the ramp. We attached the roosting bars using these little joist hangers. The roosts can be slid out for hosing down if necessary.
I made water and food containers by drilling 2" holes in four evenly spaced locations around the bottom of buckets that I got from my local bakery. We have sinced attached large aluminum pizza pans around the bottom of each container to catch extra food and water.
Finally the room is finished and the girls can now explore the entire coop! They figured out the new feed containers very quickly!
Now that the girls are in their new home, we can work on the exterior of the coop. Before beginning to make too much noise for the girls, we built a chicken tractor. The girls love being able to nibble on grass and bugs and we are not worried about them becoming the afternoon enjoyment of a certain neighborhood dog.
The cedar roof shingles were nailed down first and coated with a cedar oil protective. The long process of attaching the cedar shake siding then began. It takes a while, but I love the look that it creates.
The run was then constructed. The run is 12'x8' and it has a base of thick gravel. We then covered the gravel with crusher dust. They do like to dig in and dust themselves off. It stays dry and easy to keep clean. We attached 1/4" wire mesh around the exterior of the run. We attached fiberglass sheets for roofing to allow the light in but to keep the snow and rain off of the girls. We installed two roosting bars across two of the corners and a long ramp for them to access it. Our girls are not the keenest flyers.
We also added a sandbox as they like to dust themselves off. They have enjoyed it but the sand has now become one with the crusher dust.
Our pop door is on hinges and we simply use a bungie cord in the morning to keep it open. The door and the roof of the run both have large eye hooks screwed into them. It was easy to do it this way, easy for my son to open each morning and secure. The door also has two sliding bolts for night protection.
The coop has finally had all of the trim work stained and the shingles coated with protector. We are thrilled with how it has turned out, and we have had many offers for rental space from neighbors if the chickens do not work out
And what we have all been waiting for! We were worried that we would be on vacation when the girls began laying. They very considerately waited for us and layed their first egg two days after we got home!!!
Overall we are thrilled with our coop. My favourite aspects are definitely the dropping board, the horizontal roosts, the hinged and screened window frames and how clean the coop is and easy to maintain. We use the deep litter method and find that most of the droppings are on the dropping board, not in the coop itself. The water and food containers were cheap to make and easy to fill.
The only thing that I think I would change would be the direction that the screen door opens. The girls run under the nesting boxes and try to sneak out when the door opens. When you have your arms full of eggs or supplies keeping them in while getting out can sometimes be a bit of a challenge!