My husband and I decided to have backyard chickens at the request of our grandchildren. I thought it would be wonderful for them to have the memory of chickens when they grow up and hope that it adds to their childhood experience. I ordered 15 babies from a hatchery which all arrived alive and hungry. Each of the five children claimed which chickens to be their own and named them while the were just peeps. The babies were in a box in the house before we started the coop so we had to work fast.
We decided to locate our coop inside our back yard so wanted it to look more like an extension of the house and deck than a chicken coop even though I love the design of a typical coop raised off the ground with part of the run underneath. But raising it up would have blocked the view of the trees and sky from our deck so decided against it. The pin is outside the yard behind the garage and out of sight of the deck.
My husband is a mechanical engineer so had all the knowledge to build the coop well but could only work on it on weekends. We started in June when it was already hot and by mid-afternoon, we were ready to stop working therefore, the job didn't get finished until September.
Here is a picture of the first day of work after the 4x4 posts had been put in place a couple of days earlier and the Quikcrete had hardened. A piece of 3/4" plywood on the bottom, a layer of black plastic, a sheet of foam insulation, and another piece of plywood went over that. A sheet of linoleum was the last layer of the floor for easy cleaning. Like I said, he is an engineer so this coop will be built to last a hundred years or will not be built at all. The inside of the coop is 6'x 8' which should give ample room for our 15 chickens. The outside pin will be 24' x 6' with the coop roof extending 8 feet from for shade.
Nest boxes being built. We decided to put in 8 but chances are they may never need that many according to a lot of other BYC'ers.
This picture below shows a lot of progress. Roof rafters and insulation are up. My husband is installing the plywood that has holes already cut out for the nest boxes. Thank goodness for his nail gun for this entire project.
Three of the grandkids trying out the nest boxes for size. Plywood has been nailed on the roof and tarp is protecting it from rain until get the shingles on.
We now have roosting bars and a window. The opening for the clean out drawer can be seen at the far end as well as the pop-up door opening. The holes in the ceiling provid places for electrical and ventilation. They are backed with 1/2" hardware cloth just in case a predator makes it through the soffit and into the roof. The window swings out from the bottom to keep the coop dry from rain.
This was the first chicken to give a building inspection before agreeing to move in along with three year old grandson, Ashton. We have since removed two roosting bars. They fight like crazy to be on the top bar and a couple of them are on the next one but they will never spread out enough to use all four. They now have a little more floor space.
After all that hard work I painted some girlie colors inside as well as a little art work to welcome the chickens. All of their names are shown as well as the grandchildren's names and me, "GiGi". Sort of silly but it was time for a little fun.
This has all taken much longer than we expected and the chicks are now seven weeks old. We are really anxious to get them out of the house. The coop isn't completely finished and the pin hasn't been started but they will be safe and we can continue to work after they are moved in. We took a suggestion from someone on BYC and blocked off the nesting boxes with boards so the chicks don't get use to sleeping in them. This gives us more time to finish the outside of the nest boxes later.
The roofing shingles are now on. After looking into all types of roofing materials out there, we decided to go with a more natural looking brown shingle rather than metal.
We are finally ready begin the outdoor pin.
Our yard in really rocky so we caved and hired someone to dig out the trench for the posts and to bury wire to prevent predators from coming up from below. Three huge boulders were hauled away and we still had a large one that could not be removed so we had to set one post on top of it, secured by the hardware cloth and 1x6 boards attached to the posts on each side. Other than this contractor and his bobcat, we did all of the work ourselves.
This is the "almost completed" coop. A barn door has proven to be a great idea. You can see the first section of the outside pin on the right side.
This is the competed pin, 6-24 feet. It contains 13 vertical 4x4 posts and 8 horizontal around the top. It has nine 2x4's to support the top with 1/2" hardware cloth up the sides and across the top. 1x6" boards along the bottom of the posts horizontally with buried hardware cloth attached to them.
We added sand to the floor of the pin which I am hoping will be easier to keep clean than shavings. An old wooden ladder laid on its side has made a great place for them to stand on and look around. An old dog crate on the left will be an area to isolate any injured chickens if needed. They love their new space and come flying out when we their pop-up door opens in the mornings.
Final touches included a weathervane and a homemade sign, "Fresh Brown Eggs". Brown, being our last name seemed appropriate to put on the sign for a little fun.
At the time of this writing (September 2013) the chicks are 15 weeks old. One proved himself to be a rooster so we found him a new home on a farm. We are a little suspicious of one more but hope we are wrong.
The biggest mistake was being under so much pressure to get the coop built. If we had it to do over again, we would not have gotten the chicks until the coop was well underway. The cost of the building materials was also a surprise. Our budget was left in the "chicken dust" long before we were finished but, all in all it has been a wonderful experience. The oldest grandchild, nine-year old Abbie, has already used the chickens as a school project, and we are looking forward to eggs in another 5 or 6 weeks.
Here she is with her Buff Orpington and Americana. Yes, smiles like these make it is all worth it!