Our First Chicken AdventureWe're just at the beginning of our journey to house some chickens. It has been a lot of fun pouring through chicken catalogs and planning our flock. It occurred to us that we could convert the old "shack" into a chicken coop. Unfortunately, we filled the old shack with a lot of junk over the years, and this is what we were starting with:
The other side of the room is even worse!
Believe it or not, we used to live in here!!!
1/30/10 - The room has finally been cleaned out. My carpenter husband, Jack, has begun to work.
He put in a new floor on top of the old one so we could add some insulation. Jack finds it amusing that we lived in here for 6+ years without any insulation in the floor, but now that it will become a chicken coop, we suddenly feel the need to insulate.The roost boxes will go beneath the windows here, and the small hallway-like area just inside the door will be for feed storage.
We just ordered our chickens a few days ago! We placed an order with Meyer Hatchery for 16 pullets: 2 Barred Rocks, 2 Speckled Sussex, 3 Ameraucana, 2 Welsummer, 2 Buff Chantecler, 2 White Leghorn, 1 Black Copper Maran, 1 Light Brahma, 1 Columbian Wyandotte, and 10 straight-run Dark Cornish for meat. I realize I take a risk ordering just one of a breed (that I may lose one, or one could accidentally be a rooster), but there were just too many I wanted to try, and I was willing to take a chance. The chicks are supposed to arrive on May 12.
2-27-10 - Jack is slowly making progress on the coop. He put boards on the lower half of the wall so the chickens won't eat the sheetrock. We will have two pop doors, because we originally planned to put a wall down the middle of the coop (one side for meat birds, the other for layers). Since then, we found out that the Dark Cornish meat birds should integrate nicely with our layers. For now, we're not going to build the wall. It will make a nice roomy coop, and we can always add the wall if we decide to raise Cornish X in the future. Meanwhile, the chickens will have the ability to run laps out one door in in the other!
There are nail-like pins on the upper left of the pop doors, when pushed in, holds the door locked. Pull out the pin, and you can raise the door.
The other pin, at the bottom center of the door, can be used to hold the door in an open position.
I like the handle on this pop door, with the natural bark on the wood still attached.
4-10-10: We've made some progress now. You can kind of see the 2 pop doors here, and better in the next photo. Here's Jack putting down the glue for the vinyl tile:
We got the tile for 39 cents/sq.ft. at Marden's.
The curved wood shapes which appear randomly on the walls are scraps Jack used to help hold the hardware cloth in place (which I insisted on lining the coop with to keep out mice, rats, and squirrels. There are already squirrels living upstairs in the second story, which is not part of the coop).
Here's a view with the roosts and poop boards in place. Eventually, the poop boards will have vinyl tile for easier clean up, but we need to wait for the temperature to break 65 again for the glue to dry properly.
We may remove the foreground roost once we put some birds in the freezer. There's 23 linear feet of roost space for the 26 birds that are arriving in May. We expect to keep 16 layers through the winter. The ventilation window above the pop door can be closed by varying degrees using pegs, just like the pop door. It will likely remain wide open unless temperatures drop below zero.
The roosts run the entire length of the back wall and turn the corner.
Jack built a community nesting box:
Look! We didn't even get the chickens yet and there's already an egg! The floor of the nesting box is hardware cloth so it will have some give and drainage. It will be lined with straw and wood shavings. The hinged lids add easy access.
Construction of the outdoor run has begun:
The run will be about 6 feet tall in front here. There will be a pitched roof attaching to the side of the shack. We used to live here. Only the downstairs is going to be coop.
We are using pressure treated posts with vinyl sleeves over them, so the chickens do not peck at the treated wood.
4-24-10 We're making progress on the run now. It is 12 feet wide and 24 feet long. Jack covered the top with hardware cloth, plus there is a short metal roof over the pop doors to keep out the rain. Today we dug a long 18"+ trench all around the perimeter and set the hardware cloth down in the ground. We are lucky to have sand here for soil, so digging is relatively easy. You can dig all day and not find any rocks. We still need to put up some wood pieces where the two sections of hardware cloth overlap. The open space is going to be a door. Chickens arrive in just over two weeks!
The chickens have been lots of fun. Here are a couple of the new family members that arrived on May 12:
We moved them into the coop when they were 5 weeks old. They were getting way too big for the brooder! Coop ready to go:
For about 15 minutes, they were scared to death, and all huddled in the corner. Soon after, they were running and flying all over the place!
There is a small "porch" which is sheltered by a short section of roof. They hang out on the porch or underneath it when it rains.
This is how they look today (at 6 weeks): Light Brahma