It took one year to put together the coop, two months to finalize this run, and one year to get the nerve to actually bring home chickens. One year ago, I purchased the coop from Craig’s List and it turned out to be quite a good buy. The run itself was assembled along with my garden to keep out deer. I decided that someday I was going to have chickens.
This run is a 10 x 8 run that turned out to be a project in the making and changes were made along the way.
It is completely covered with Deerblock protective mesh and a heavy duty galvanized wire placed over that mesh. The more research I did the more concerned I was for my future chickens. So, this is what I purchased. Everbilt 5 ft. x 50 ft. 14-Gauge Galvanized Steel Welded Wire Garden Fence to keep out predators that I continually read about on-line. The lumber came from Home Depot and was WeatherShield 2 in. x 4 in. x 10 ft. #2 Prime Ground Contact Pressure-Treated Lumber. Each piece is placed in cement to hold the run safe and steady for a lifetime. There are two more pressure-treated lumber pieces on either side of the entrance door that is also placed in cement.
Do not make the mistake in thinking that regular chicken wire will keep your ladies safe. I do not believe it will.
Before completing the total coop area with the galvanized wire, I decided to place the small coop inside the run to protect the girls even more.
This coop houses 3-4 chickens, however, two is my limit and three is a crowd with one girl always left out. So, either two or four is a good number to keep them happy, as they can get somewhat fussy. But make sure there is room for them to grow big and fat and not be like four stuffed turkeys inside that small area. Use common sense and know what your chickens will and will not like.
The roosting and nesting coop is important. The girls need to roost comfortably at night and they can go to the back and nest when they are laying their eggs. I keep straw in the bottom of the roosting area and keep it clean for them as they do tend to make poo poo at night. The nesting area, of course needs soft shredded wood chips to sit on while they are laying their eggs. BTW: They will sing during or after they lay that egg and trust me, you will hear it. Oh, and one does NOT need a rooster to get eggs. The rooster is the boyfriend who will protect the girls and also can make chicks. So, unless you want more chickens and want your neighbors to hate you, think twice about a rooster.
Also, I like the fact that the coop is up off the ground not only because it is safer, but hopefully it will be warmer in the winter. I have not made it that far, but I have my ideas that I will share later.
The wood you see on the outside was mainly for looks, but turned out to be quite helpful.
I discovered it tossed up in the garage attic and was eager to use it for something. This panel of wood gives the girls some much needed shade on those hot summer days. They can sit in the dark corner or they can roll in the cool sand box. This old wood must be at least 20 years old and still in good condition, and rustic enough for my Shabby Chic ideas. It has a handsome blue/gray hue that I found appealing. The white window area is nothing but a trellis that was being unused.
The top roof of the coop run is also covered with the heavy-duty mesh to keep out hawks and climbing animals. The far-right top has been covered with a heavy-duty tarp that I now regret that I added it, because when it rains the inside leaks and part of the tarp holds gallons of water that I must remove after the storms. But, the left roof has been covered with a clear plastic roofing that works perfectly to allow the rain to run into my garden area. The plastic roofing is slanted at an angle for that purpose. This was what I used as roofing material. Suntuf 26 in. x 8 ft. Polycarbonate Roofing Panel in Clear.
I plan to add a horizonal piece of lumber to hold up the plastic roofing when the snow begins. It will give it more strength to the roof and hold back any heavy snow damage. My last-minute decision is to cover the complete coop run with the plastic roofing. That way it will keep out the rain, but would also allow the sunshine in. And actually, the tarp can stay, as it creates a nice shade area for my girls to escape from the hot summer sun.
The entrance is an old screen door with a Plexiglas bottom and a screened top. It works perfectly for what I need and I had to add my Shabby Chic paint to it to make it mine.
However, one day I noticed the door did not close tightly and the latch was worn. Now we must realize that the racoons have thumbs. They will open that door in a New York second if possible. So, I went to work. First, I secured the latch to keep the door shut and the important part is that I had a metal hollow tube placed in the ground very close to the door so I could slip a curved metal rebar down inside the tube and shove it up against the door. This makes it impossible for any curious raccoon to make his entrance.
Bird houses were added to the top area of the door only for decoration, but found that the birds seem to love building their nest and having babies there. I found this idea on Pinterest.
While I was busy working on the metal bar project I noticed that there was way too much space under the door. After reading that animals can crawl under, over and through areas if they are not secured. I worried about snakes coming through or animals that could actually squeeze through this small area. I also heard that a fox will dig under the coop to get to the chickens. As the old adage goes “There is a fox in the hen house”. So, I layered bricks inside up next to the door for more security as a temporary fix until I decide what to do.
Then I went one step more and strung barbed wire around the total area of the coop run using FARMGARD 1,320 ft. 15-1/2-Gauge 4-Point High-Tensile CL3 Barbed Wire. This will stop anything from trying to climb up and get through. Just for your information this was way too much barbed wire for what I needed, so check out the length before making your purchase. Now what do I do with all this barbed wire?
Then as if I did not have enough to worry about I began to think about my neighbors. Even though I made sure with the City that it was lawful to keep the chickens I certainly did not want to offend anyone. So, on either side of the coop I added lovely white lattice. It looks very stylish and I can even grow Morning Glories up on each side if I wish.
But wait there is more. After much pondering, I came to grips at how very dark it was outside when the sun went down. For the first five days after I actually got my chickens, I sat at my window for hours and tried to listen for any predators as I was unable to see further then five feet and much too lazy to essentially go outside to investigate. That was when I made the decision that I needed motion sensing lights. I purchased Mr. Beams Brown Wireless Motion Sensing LED Spot Light (2-Pack) These motion sensing lights can be purchased on line. If anything moves the light turns on filling the area with a beam of light so the predator hopefully moves away from the coop. If I hear a sound I can immediately see what is going on in the dark. These small lights can be tucked on each corner and even on the back of the coop run in case the racoons think they can outsmart me by coming in the back door.
I know this works as I put my girls to roost each night and when I pass the motion sensing light it immediately turns on, giving me some great light so I can actually see where I am walking.
The next important purchase is motion cameras. I purchased Color Security System with night vision at Harbor Freight that not only came with the camera, but included a small video pad. This great little gadget allows me to see everything that is going on around the coop area. The cost of these cameras is under $200 and are so well worth the great sleep one can get once they are installed.
Now as crazy as this sounds I actually purchased a used baby monitor at Goodwill. I plan on placing it in the coop run. Maybe I can now get an even better night’s sleep knowing that my future girls will wake me if there is danger.
In late April of this year I made the decision that I actually knew a little about these beautiful little creatures and I would not accidently kill them. (I hope) I brought home Lucy and Bettywhite and introduced them to their new digs.
They seem to be delighted with their new coop and run. I am glad I did my homework as I found out many things from what kind of feed, to what kind of water container is best and even how to rid them of lice plus much, much more. So, read up before you actually bring them home. You will be happy you did.
Inside the coop run is a small round plastic tub full of sand for Lucy and Bettywhite to roll in or just sit the day away. A small child’s used swimming plastic pool will do fine if you have the space.
I have many things to keep the girls occupied as they do tend to get bored. They have a swing from an old branch, (I enjoy the rustic look and yes it was free) and a small hanging hollow ball that I deposit salad, cabbage and other greens inside. They enjoy pecking at it to make it swing back and forth during play time.
There are larger tree branches that lead back and forth to different areas for them to travel on. There is an old wooden ladder that Lucy loves to climb and look out over her yard or maybe to cry “the sky is falling” if it ever does.
I use old Kitty Litter plastic containers for feed, for garbage, and for tools. I picked up a small brown plastic file cabinet at the second-hand store for extras. It fits in there just fine. There are strong, small boxes for them to climb on and play. l purchased these Vinyl-Coated Heavy-Duty Steel Wall Mounted Bike Hangers to hang the kitty litter buckets instead of leaving them on the ground taking up space.
I collect their egg shells, clean them out, sit them to dry and crush them into powder for calcium. The chickens now know when I pull out the container of egg shell powder and begin to cluck happily in unison.
I have added many pictures for your viewing pleasure of the coop/run itself, inside the run, and a few pictures taken before it was put together. You will see my chair in which I sit and chat with the ladies on occasion. They now run to the door when they hear me call and graciously bow down for me to rub their backs.
Lucy, being the curious one who can jump all the way up to my shoulder in one single bound just to get to talk to me face to face. Bettywhite can be a little misbehaving as she pecks at Lucy occasional, but how do you scold a chicken for being a bully? Oh yeah, and Lucy and Bettywhite would never allow me to send this in without a picture of them posing.
Thank you for reading and I hope someday you will know the pleasure of back yard chickens as I have.
Written by Vivian Montgomery