HOW THE CHICKEN CHUCKWAGON COOP DéVILLE CAME TO BE
The Chicken Chuckwagon Coop DéVille had much simpler
beginnings. My wife asked for a wire cage to house some chickens
for the children to pet when they come to visit the Farm Life Academy.
She did ask that it be mobile - either by handles on the side, or wheels
underneath. Okay - so, I got a little carried away . . .
When she saw the chuckwagon door at the rear (stores the
chicken feed) with the feed “chute” to ground level, and the elaborate
watering system (optional) at the front . . . she dubbed the chicken
tractor “The Chicken Chuckwagon Coop DéVille.”
Being more familiar with woodworking than raising and housing
chickens, I turned to the internet to investigate the needs of a
chicken, and to see what was available in the way of chicken tractors.
Most were utilitarian . . . some were cute, but I wanted this one to show
off my woodworking skills . . . and, it had to be low maintenance. The
thought of sticking my upper torso into the chicken coop to give it a
cleaning every other day just didn’t . . . well, I just didn’t . . . I’m not
gonna do that!
The Chicken Chuckwagon Coop DéVille isn’t built like any
other chicken tractor. I should know. I designed it as I built it. Yep,
wasn’t planning on going back over it to take measurements and draw
out the plans. But I gotta tell ya - there are some things that worked
out very well. I’m proud to say, both the chickens and the family are
enjoying the outcome! We think you will, too! And, your contribution to
purchase the plans will help the Farm Life Academy educate children
about growing, harvesting, and caring for a sustainable farm.
So, let’s take the coop apart (figuratively) and take a look at
some of the components. First, the floor of the third level in this coop is
three layers of chicken wire, set at different angles to make the holes
smaller, and lies underneath the roosting rods. You see - when roosting
- that’s when chickens do a lot of pooping (in one place) . . . late at
night . . . all night long. But, the poop simply falls onto the wire mesh
and dries (some falls through to the ground while it’s still wet.) Did you
know chicken poop doesn’t smell when it’s dry . . . but, when it gets
wet - oh my! I keep my garden hoe handy, and in about two minutes
(every third or fourth day) I scrape the dried poop (without sticking my
upper torso inside,) busting it up til the crumbs fall to the ground below.
Viola’! On the second level floor in the coop there is a plywood floor
with shavings on it, but they don’t seem to spend much time there.
Those shavings are as clean as the day I first put them in there.
Second, there’s the nesting boxes. Boy, I read some bad stories
about soiled eggs, cracked shells (from pecking,) and roosting going
on where it shouldn’t. So, I was careful to design a sure-fire way of
cleaning out the boxes from the outside . . . remove one short 2x2 and
rake out the soiled shavings. However, building the boxes with our design
has given us consistently clean eggs . . . no room to do anything
but lay the egg . . . and clean boxes - we haven’t cleaned them since
we first put the shavings in weeks ago.
One more thing . . . this is optional . . . you do what you want,
but I didn’t want the feed and water inside the coop. I had noticed the
chickens will stand right over it and do their business or turn it over
and knock it around. That’s when I built the feed “chute” inside the
chuckwagon door . . . taking the feed down to ground level where they
can stand on the ground and eat. Then I put a small roof over the feed,
(to keep the rain off and shed the poop coming through the wire mesh
above) on an angle, so the chickens wouldn’t roost on it. The water
is both accessible inside and outside the coop and is easily filled by
catching rain-water in the trough above, or by laying the garden hose
in it. The water then drains into the basin below. The basin is easily
removed (from the outside) for a quick cleaning as it needs it.
So, there it is ... the how and the why, the Chicken Chuckwagon
Coop DéVille came to be. Turns out, its been one of the most enjoyable
things I have ever built. We wish you every success in building
your own and hope you get as much enjoyment from the experience
as we have. DID I FORGET TO MENTION ?. . . THE FRESH EGGS
ARE A GREAT REWARD FOR YOUR LABOR!