I knew the day I got my chicks that I needed to start on their new accomadations immediately. Although we own two acres of land for free ranging, they would never be safe due to lots of predators. We have bald eagles, hawks, owls, raccoons, and coyote in addition to your run of the mill cats and dogs. Whatever I decided on would have to be easy to maintain, easily accessible and lightweight due to personal disabilities. It also had to be inexpensive since we are on a fixed income and I wasn't sure I would be physically able to maintain the chickens.But I was really hoping. I originally wanted an ark tractor but knew I would not be able to build it in four weeks. I already had surgery scheduled for a hernia repair the second week. I was also concerned that I may not be able to lift it or pull it by myself. So I went to my trusty computer to shop around again. I found an idea for using a doghouse by flipping the top half around. I went to my trusty Lowe's and found a large doghouse that split in half easily. An added plus was that it had a vent opposite the door. Seemed perfect for what I needed.
After separating the two halves, I used my jigsaw to cut notches in the lower half for two roosts.Then I cut leftover tongue and groove hardwood flooring for the roosts. I placed a piece of indoor outdoor carpet in the bottom. This I could shake off into the garden each day and wash weekly. At this point the chicks were ready to move in. They happily watched from their roosts and supervised the completion.
I wanted to be able to reach in the top of the door to retreive eggs from a future nesting box. I cut a piece of chicken wire to fit the top portion of the door and used cable ties to attach it to holes already there. Then I took a leftover piece of rod from a chrome fold up laundry dryer and ran it through the bottom of the chicken wire. This would secure the "window" allowing for ventilation and a view and also easy access to future eggs.
Then for the door. I originally planned to cut plywood and use hinges for a dropdown door. Plans are made to be changed. After cutting the door out of OSB because it was more accessible, I found it was easier to slide the top edge into the slot made by the doorframe. They didn't need a ramp because the house was on the ground.
Door cut & in place Until this time they had been staying in the garage. I put the house out in the tractor for two nights.
House of Joy- You can see their Carolina Gamecock waterer and ice cream feeder. The pink bath basin holds sand for dust baths. About that time I was reading how raccoons could get into just about anything, I was terrified my babies were going to become a meal. I had to figure out a way to keep them safe. So the coop came back into the garage.The first two days I hand carried all of them back and forth. The next morning I opened their door, called "Chick, chick, chick" and they flew to their pen. That night I used cantaloupe and kept moving it a few feet at a time til they got to their coop. Little angels took their time going in. Well ... I had read where they might be afraid to go into the dark. Brainstorm! I got some xmas tree lights. duct taped them to the top, and put a lamp timer on them. That night they paraded from their pen and right into the coop. Worked like a charm. As an added bonus, I now get to sleep in. Yeah!!!
Bitsey supervising lite installation.
Here they are filing into their newly lit coop.
Settling down for the night on their roosts Costs: Petbarn 58.98
Wire & Metal Rod Free
Duct Tape Free
Thanks for the ideas about using a large plastic dog box. I am new to raising chickens (should be getting them from my co-op this coming friday). I have a large plastic dog box just taking up space. It should be enough to provide shelter, some protections and a decent little coop to get started with.
I have a dog house that my dog is afraid of, thinking about using it for our rooster and breeding pen. Might just use it as a day pen for him though, because we have big predators around here. I'm glad that worked out for you!