INTRODUCTION

Welcome the my coop page!

I recently put together new housing for my 22 chickens and 3 ducks - the coop is still very much a work in process, but so far I'm pleased with how it's come along! Here's a photo of the main portion of the coop before shortly before the chicken moved in and the nest boxes were installed.

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We live down a quiet dirt road beside a small lake called "Grand Etang", which means Big Pond in the Acadian French, at the base of the Cape Breton Highlands. When the summer comes, the hills are blanketed with lush green deciduous trees (maple, birch, ash, etc.), but for the majority of the year the landscape is rather cold and barren. We also get some of the strongest consistent winds in Canada. Called "Les Suêtes", this winds frequently reach hurricane force speeds up to a maximum of about 220km/hr (which would be 137miles/hr for all the Imperial System folks out there). So in summary we have the following major subjects to think about when keeping a flock of chickens in this paradise down by the lake: cold winters, high winds, humid air being next to the sea, and LOTS of predators.

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THE COOP

The basic plan for the inside of the coop is very simple - here is a rough sketch.

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The coop itself is shed-style, built from a 16x8 ft locally made plywood-based baby barn with attached run. The inside dimensions of the roosting/nesting area of the coop is 10x8 ft with a linoleum lined floor for easy cleaning, with an additional 6x8 ft area for storage of chicken husbandry related supplies (food, extra bedding, treats, first aid, etc.), plus space for a brooder in the near future. The roosts are made of painted 2x4s on large shelf holders to make sure they are far enough off the wall for the chickens to be comfortable. White paint was chosen as it makes it easier to notice if there are any unusual poops or other things of concern left by the chickens on the roosts themselves. Hard to keep looking clean, I know, but worth it in the end. I have a total of 16ft of roost space, which can be seen in the photo below.

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We just put up our permanent nest boxes, which can be seen in the photo below. They are made of 2x4s and a 2x2 - will be painted white as soon as the weather allows and I've order dowels to hold up the curtains. The top nest box is fixed into the wall and the bottom two are a single unit that can be removed for cleaning. The curtains are made from dish clothes as they are cost effective, durable, and easy to replace. We use aspen bedding for the boxes as it seems harder for the chickens to remove - though they still try their best :) We found that the benefit of setting up permanent boxes a few weeks after the chickens moved into the coop was that all the chickens were comfortable on the roosts and we haven't had issues with birds roosting or pooping on the nest boxes. In the interim we just used old milk crates to provide a temporary space for them to nest.

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As with the rest of the set-up, it‘s still very much a work in progress! The coop lighting in the next photo is from battery operated and remote controlled little disk lights - a perfect way to get enough light to check on the flock without needing to run an extension cord to the coop. They cost about $50 Canadian for a set of six and are easy to install. I used super glue to fix them to the ceiling. This photo was taken at night with a cell phone, which shows you just how effective these lights can be.

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During the majority of the year we keep the food and water outside in the run to minimize mess inside the coop. During the winter we will take the food in if it's really wet and rainy (or a blizzard) and we have a second heated water dispenser inside to make sure that they have access to water at all time. The run is also a work in progress, currently fitted with some stumps and low roosts, as well as an old fish crate dust bath (which they have made quite the mess of)! We will be adding more complexity and enrichment to it as the winter goes, along with some gravel in the parts that we notice get muddy.

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Coop Inhabitants Include:
- 3 Blue Wheaten/Wheaten Ameraucanas
- 2 Black Copper Marans
- 3 Salmon Faverolles
- 1 Salmon Faverolles Mix
- 1 White Silkie
- 9 LF Cochins (Blue, Gold-laced, Silver-laced, Buff, Partridge, and Lavender)
- 1 Silkie-Cochin Cross
- 2 Cochin-Brown Layer Crosses
- 3 Muscovy Ducks

THE FLOCK:

Queen of Hearts (pullet) - a beautiful mixed pullet from our partridge Cochin hen x white Silkie rooster from the spring of 2020

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Emma (pullet) - a beautiful blue Cochin pullet hatched in the spring of 2020 who is very affectionate and curious

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Cotton (hen) - our sole Silkie hen and best brooder who was born in early 2019

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Goldie (hen) - the bossiest of flock and one of two gold-laced Cochin hens we have that were born in early 2019

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Partridge Bird (Hen) - we clearly ran out of creativity when it came to naming this beautiful partridge Cochin hen that was part of an early 2019 hatch

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THE EGGS - WORKING TOWARDS THE RAINBOW

We started out with a neutral tinted egg basket in shades of cream, tan, and brown from our Cochins and silkie. Then in 2020 we added some Salmon Faverolles who had pink tinted eggs. They began laying at the end of November and the resulting basket was stunning in a subtle way.


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Just last week (February 2021), our Black Copper Marans pullet born in late June of 2020, Marie, started laying and is producing some lovely deep chocolate eggs. We are getting more BCM this year and are working towards darker eggs while keeping the standard of perfection for the breed. Our egg basket now has some a beautiful variety of browns, chocolates, creams, tans, and pinks.

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Our next pullets to begin laying are our Blue Wheaten/Wheaten Ameraucanas from late May 2020 - I will update when that happens (likely in the near future).
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About author
Offshoreorca
A Canadian marine mammal biologist with a passion for raising chickens and gardening in her spare time. Growing up in a family of veterinarians, she hopes to use her experiences to help others on this journey of backyard chicken keeping!

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Good article. Your coop looks very nice :)
Amazing coop! I would love to see more details and pictures!
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Offshoreorca
Offshoreorca
I have updated it :) Will continue to do so as I capture more photos of the set-up and flock.

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