Last summer we got our first 4 laying hens. They free-ranged during the day and were locked in a covered dog crate surrounded by poultry netting at night.
While they seemed to enjoy their temporary summer field huts, we knew they needed more secure housing. So as winter approached we fitted a stall in the newly built goat barn to house them.
Not only was this a much more secure location, but it was also easier for us to access during winter to feed and water them.
They have happily lived here for almost a year, but as our flock is growing and this stall will be needed for kidding season next year, we decided it was time for a dedicated chicken coop.
We wanted the coop to be located close to the barn for convenient access to food, water, supplies, and electricity. We live on a wooded hillside and had to clear trees and bring in a lot of fill to create a flat site for the barn. Not wanting to bring in even more fill, we opted to build the coop on cement piers. We had just enough cleared space off the right side of the barn for a 8'x12' structure.
8/2013: We dug holes 4' deep (or until we hit ledge) then poured concrete into sonotubes to create the footings.
8/2013: Then built the deck.
9/2013: Finished the framing the walls.
We intended to side the coop to match the barn, but as winter is drawing near we opted to use plywood sheathing to quickly finish the structure this year, and add the siding next year.
Hardware cloth was installed (with help from turkey assistants) where the coop will be open air, with shutters to close in when weather requires.
Note the height of the back of the coop off the slope. Almost a 5' drop off.
10/2013: The roof is framed. The roof extends 2' over the entrance to protect the doorway from weather. 10/2013: South-facing side of the metal roof was installed, with one translucent panel to serve as a skylight. Shutters are in place. 10/2013: Roof is finished! 11/29/2013: Happy Thanksgiving! Throughout November, we finished putting up the plywood "siding," installed the window & gable vents, made a door, and put up poop boards & perches. We used the day off on Black Friday to clean and move the nesting box & feeders and put down fresh bedding. We waited until dusk to move the chickens, turkeys and guineas over. I replaced any missing leg bands and gave them all quick dusting and physical in the process. The chickens seem to love the new coop, already scratching around and scouting out good egg laying places. The guineas and turkeys just seem impatient to be let out to free-range, but they're going to be cooped up for a few days until they learn their new home. We still have to put up the siding next spring. We may also install minimal electric (just one outlet to heat the water in winter.) For now we're just glad they're in their new home in time for winter!
Stay tuned for siding & electric updates next Spring!