So my wife has become more conscience about organic and healthy eating and my kids have been bothering me about pets. So chickens seemed like the way to go. We have not had animals before and I decided if we were going to do chickens that I would do my research and have a coop that allowed for the minimum amount of upkeep. Of course my kids promised they would do all the work to take care of the chickens, but we all now that lasts about a week. I have researched and read about chickens and religiously checked this new coop forum just about every day to learn what I needed to do and to get the perfect coop!
The start of my design came from the Witchita Cabin Coop
and the Palace
so thanks for the inspiration. My coop needed to be easy to maintain and be aesthetically pleasing. By far the biggest thing I wanted was LOW MAINTENANCE.
It didn't take long for the chicken math to get to my wife. We got 4 chicks from a local hatchery and then two days later my wife got two more from the local tractor store, so we had six chicks and I figured I had about six weekends to get the coop done. I took some pictures of the start and some towards the end, but not a lot in the middle. Here is the Peck (our family name) Poultry Palace.
After lots of planning, work, and more money than I thought, here was the finished product. Moved chickens into the coop about 10 days ago, just finished up details today.
The coop is built on a 6 foot by 12 foot foundation. The foundation is about 8 inches tall and and 5 inches wide, just wide enough for a 2" x 4" to be laid flat and then a 2" x 4" to be laid on its side. The hardware cloth that was laid at the bottom of the concrete foundation and covers the entire floor area. Gravel was then poured over the hardware cloth for drainage and then sand was added for ease of cleanup. Here the North wall is just going up, this is the wall that will also have the three nest boxes. You can see the power stubbed at the back of the coop.
Most of the initial wall frame studs are up, at this point I installed the hardware cloth that will later be sandwiched between another layer of 2" x 4"'s. You can also see the coop base (4' x 6') slanted slightly for easier cleaning.
Front view where the coop door and run will be.
Front view again. Framing is now mostly complete, outside 2" x 4"'s have sandwiched hardware cloth and run door is being framed. The run is 7' tall in the front and 6' tall in the back.
Side view, coop floor is framed, will later be coated with linoleum to help easy cleanup.
And then I miss a few weekend of pictures, here come the finished coop pictures!
Here you can see the Run door and coop door. The chickens have room in the run under the coop. In fact this is where the food and water is, protects it from the elements. Hard to tell but the coop is painted gray with white trim to match our home. The far 20 inches to the left of the coop is storage area for the food, water, bedding etc. Hard to see the permanent vents, there are 10 smaller holes in the rafters on each side of the coop to allow for venting and some air flow, the window also slides open in front.
Side view, if you look closely you can see the nesting boxes in the back.
Chickens finally in the coop and out of my basement!
My daughter with Sunny, our Orphington. She reflects how happy I was to finally be able to move 8 week old chickens out of the basement and into the coop.
Ramp rungs are about 6 inches apart, perfect for 5 of the six chickens, the silkie has to stretch a little bit can maneuver the ramp just fine. The pop door is attached to a string that pulls open from the outside.
Big wide coop door for easy access. The roost is removable and the "poop board" is a boot tray filled with sweet PDZ. It works awesome!! 90% of the poop goes right in the tray which is easily cleaned every 4 or five days with a kitty liter scoop. No smell and takes about 4-5 minutes to clean. Have yet to change wood shavings and really I only expect to change shavings a couple times a year with all poop going into tray.
Tray after a 3-4 minute cleanup. Good as new, awesome and easy to clean! Nest boxes in background are blocked off until chickens get closer to laying.
Here you can see the heat lamp that I may run in the winter as well as the security camera in the corner that beams chicken video to my home and phone 24 hours a day. I have fallen in love with watching chickens and the video feed is awesome. You can also see the rope that opens and closes the pop door from the outside, though I have left it open mostly at night for added ventilation as it gets warmer.
Added "Natural roosts" to the run. The girls love them especially the bottom roost that is only about 2 inches of the ground LOL. Sand in the run is working awesome, no smell, always dry, very easy cleanup.
This is where I really spent some time. The feeder works great, yes that is feed on the ground. When I initially poured the feed in it shot out at the bottom, works perfect now, just need to add feed before it gets empty or pour some in the bottom first before filling from the top. It took a lot of work to get the nipples to not leak. I used chicken techies waterer plan which allows for weeks of water at a time and water that won't freeze in the cold Utah winters. Check it out here:
You can see the feeder (the black pipe) this also holds at least two weeks of feed, it is a 4" pipe that runs into the storage area of the coop.
This is the storage area of the coop. Means I don't have to go too far for feed or bedding.
And when the big doors swing open. This is where the magic happens. The cooler hold 48 quarts of water. It goes into the white PVC pipe which is attached to the nipples in the run. In the winter the water will be heated and cycled by a pump which should keep any of the water or nipples from freezing up. You can see the big black pipe which runs about 4 feet tall. i just pour the feed in every couple of weeks and the rest is taken care of. Will also do a small one for oyster shells when the girls start laying.
Better view of waterer and feeder.
And that is our Peck Poultry Palace.
Even though I had read that these take time, it took even more than I planned on. We love it now that it is done and i think I really have made these chickens about as low maintenance as possible. Most coops that were similar in size that I looked at seemed to spend in the $1300-$1600 range. I spent about $1000, but I did have a little bit of the lumber on hand or I probably would have been closer to $1300. The roof is white metal that matches the trim. We are loving having chickens, like I said i could watch them for hours, can't wait to have fresh eggs.
Oh yeah, and here are the chickens just heading into the roost tonight:
And here is a screen shot of them sleeping right now: all on the roost in the upper right corner -
Would love to hear any comments/suggestions or answer any questions. Thanks to all for your help. A year ago I knew nothing about chickens, I am still a rookie but love learning.