I designed "Feathersley Manor" as a do everything chicken tractor for up to 4 bantam chickens.
I chose to start keeping chickens as I have a permaculture food garden and the hardest pest to control organically is codling moth in apples. Whilst there are a number of partial solutions, every book and advice keeps coming back to chickens as the most effective control.
However, I had to solve a number of problems before I started to keep chickens:
How do I look after them when I have to travel for work up to a week at a time?
How do I prevent them from digging up my garden and turning it into a dust bowl whilst still allowing them to control those pesties?
With the limited garden space that I have, how do I house the chooks without sacrificing garden space?
After much research into chicken coop designs, automatic feeder and waterers as well as chicken breeds I managed to solve all my concerns.
I based my design on a lot of the chicken coop designs on this website with a combined chicken coop and run with the chicken coop and nest boxes above the run. This design is the most efficient on space.
I also designed it to be backed up against a wall and fence so all the daily & weekly activities needed to be easily accessible from the front or left side.
Because I have a small garden and I would be walking past the coop regularly I wanted something that looked attractive and liked the idea of it looking a bit like a dolls house.
And here it is:
The coop is 1.93m (6.33') long and 0.8m (2.62') wide and 1.36m (4.46') high. The width allows me to move it though my courtyard gate so that Millicent (Millie) and Morticia (Ticia), the Belgian D'Uccle will have access to the apple trees. see below:
The whole coop is constructed from 70x19mm decking timber (Merbau), a rainforest hardwood from Indonesia and 9mm marine grade plywood with mini-orb (a type of small corrigated iron) for the roof.
The feeder and waterer are a commercial brand that hold 3 litres of water and 3.5kg of feed. Enough for a small flock of bantam chickens to last at least a week if I need to lock them up. I also designed a shell grit dispenser along the same lines. These can be filled by opening a mesh panel at the front.
The run has open meshed sections as well as a solid panel section at the rear and one side. This provides some additional wind and rain protection if the weather turns nasty. The lower ramp section is hinged to make cleaning of the run easier and it also has a full height door at one end.
The coop section at the top has two doors which provide full access to the coop for cleaning. The floor is level with the doors and the roost ladder is hinged so it's a simple matter of using a broom to sweep every thing out straight into a wheelbarrow.
I also put triangle beading in all the corners to make cleaning easier.
A lot of the ideas for my coop came from researching other builds but here's a neat little idea I came up with myself. The floor and wheels are actually 2 "floor trolleys" which slot into the base but can be removed. This means I can place the coop into my vegie garden and allow the chooks to turn over the soil, remove weeds and do what they do best.
One final point worth noting. I researched the web for peoples' thoughts on whether to varnish the inside of the coop or leave it raw and found there were advocates for both schools of thought. I went with the school that said it's easier to keep it clean and remove any pest problems if it's treated as long as you give it enough time to off gas. I gave it a week before the girls moved in and they seem to be pretty happy.
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