The Maxwell House's Member Page

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  1. The Maxwell House
    We're a family of four from Michigan. Our two boys, Brad (14) & Luke (11) have kept laying hens for years, but our coop left alot to be desired. It was falling down and in need of repair, so we all sat down and did some brainstorming. With this new coop, we tried to address all of the issues that have plagued us in the past. We hope that you find the photos and descriptions below helpful. Here are some of the features of our coop that we feel make keeping backyard chickens easier and more fun.
    • We use "chicken nipple" waterers instead of conventional ground waterers. (see photos below)
    • Homemade gravity feeder made from free materials (see photos below)
    • Bottom entrance to coop keeps debris and rain out and helps with ventilation (see photos below)
    • Removable door panels for hot days (see photos below)
    • Integrated lights on a timer to manipulate the seasons and increase egg production (see photos below)
    • Trouble free temperature control system to keep water from freezing! (see photos below)
    • Lots of doors to help make cleaning and chores a breeze (see photos below)
    • Removable manure box under roost bar really helps with poop collection (see photos below)
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    Construction begins...
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    Construction, day 2

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    Thanks go to our oldest son Brad here.
    He's 14 and strong as an ox. He dug each of these post holes to 40" with a hand held post hole digger!
    Let's see... that's 40 inches x 8 holes = 320 inches or over 26 VERTICAL FEET! Thanks Brad!


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    Well, here they are now... Thing 1 & Thing 2

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    Still a long way to go, but making progress!

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    All done!
    We have a variety of hens... Rhode Island Reds, ISA Browns, Black Sex Links & Barred Rocks

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    Happy chickens!

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    Below are some of the key features of our new coop that we think make keeping backyard chickens fun & easy...
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    By using a timer to control sunrise & sunset, you can manipulate the hens' seasons.
    From their perspective, the days never get short, so they continue to lay eggs year round!
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    The bigger flood light in the photo is connected to a "Thermo-cube" outlet that turns the bulb on at 35 degrees and off at 45 degrees.
    Freezing water has always been a problem for us... but no more! Simply hang bottle waterers (with poultry nipples - we got ours at Farmtek) on the gray hooks and forget about them! No more frozen water!

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    Another light mounted underneath the coop is also connected to the timer and keeps the ground lit up.

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    The nest boxes are made out of recycled planter boxes... we were even able to save the screws!
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    Here's our homemade waterer. We love these because the water stays CLEAN!
    Also, each nipple is just a couple of dollars, so the cost is another perk! Just drill a small starter hole in the bottom of just about any container and screw in the nipples!
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    The chickens love this waterer!
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    This gravity feeder has already had some use, as you can see. It's super simple design works perfectly... maintaining a constant flow of clean feed.

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    A view inside the top of the feeder... It's just a juice bottle suspended upside down inside the bucket. Use a long dowel rod or stiff metal wire to run through the bucket and bottle!
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    Keep the tip of the juice bottle about 1/2" off the floor of the bucket.
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    The door panels slide out easily to allow ventilation on hot days
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    Doors with panels removed

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    Our youngest son Luke is 11 with his favorite ISA Brown... This hen follows him around like he's just one of the chickens.
    He was heavily involved with construction and came up with lots of great ideas. He really enjoyed building the new coop.

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    The roosting bar is made of 1.5" diameter square lumber. We just rounded the sharp corners with a hand planer. We think the square roost bar is better than a round one, but that's just our opinion.
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    The manure box sits directly under the roost bar... It collects the bulk of manure during the night and is easily removable.
    This little trick really saves cleaning time.
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    The bottom entrance helps with air flow and also keeps water and debris from blowing into the coop.
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    Top access door for easy fill of waterers and feeders

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    We didn't use a commercial blueprint for our coop, but here are some sketches that we made late one night while talkin' chickens! We didn't follow these sketches to the letter, but the basic dimensions and locations of the doors are the same.

    We used as much recycled materials as we could... including the red barn siding, some of the white trim, some old planter boxes (they're now the nest boxes), some of the lumber, some of the cage material & just about all of the electrical system.
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    We hope that you enjoyed our new coop ... Now, everyone do the chicken dance!


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  1. dawnjerrene
    Wow! I am really impressed! A beautiful job, and the re-use/recycling of materials is the BEST part of it all! :) Your sons (and hubby) get major kudos from me!
  2. The Maxwell House
    Hi, the nipples are actually called "poultry nipples" and are designed for use in commercial poultry farms but work out great for a small flock too. They can be used in gravity or pressure systems. You can buy them here: http://www.avianaquamiser.com/chickennipple/ but I got mine on Ebay for much less. We also bought some from www.farmtek.com a couple of years back and that worked out great too. I'm not sure why you don't see more people using them... they're so much cleaner and easier than conventional ground waterers... and the chickens love them! It's rare to see a chicken walk by the waterer without pecking the nipple...
  3. newchickie2
    i love all of your ideas... where can i find the nipples for the waterer? what are they called or really used for? thanks
  4. The Maxwell House
    Thanks to everyone for all the great compliments! Sorry it took so long for me to check back and respond... I hope you all got your coops done and your chickens are happy and healthy! Just to follow up on some of the comments / questions:
    One member asked about the cost... we had about $800 after all things considered. We already had some of the materials, which helped a lot with the cost. My guess is that it would have been a little over $1,000 if we had to purchase everything.
    Another member asked if we'd do anything different... the only thing we changed was the height and length of the roost bar. We added some length to accommodate more chickens (16) and raised the height of the roost bar above the top nest boxes because we found that some hens were roosting in the nest boxes (they do that if the bar is too low).
    Another asked for the dimensions of the nest boxes. We made them 12"x12"x12", which is pretty standard in most coops.
    Thanks again for all the good wishes and great compliments!
  5. New Chick Love
    Great coop! Very user friendly!
  6. chickstreet
    Great coop, I really like it. Do you let your chickens free range?
  7. ALRwild
    Nice job! The red really makes it look fresh.
  8. QueenBeeMom
    Your boys get my vote for Sons Of The Week too. Mine are 5 1/2 and 8, it's cool to see two older brothers love a family project like that.
  9. Herducks
    Wow! I love it, now I just need to convince you to build one in my backyard! lol :)
  10. melonball6
    What a beautiful coop! I liked your modifications to make it virtually take care of itself.
  11. Lorirn740
    Awesome job!! Love the red color...TFS
  12. hoggie1985
    WOW, good for you guys!!! Kids do think outside the box, their minds aren't filled with crap yet...lol Really great job, I'm jealous...lol
  13. Amerraucana101
    I LOVE the coop!!!! How much did all of it cost?
  14. joan1708
    I love the removable door panels! I haven't seen that before. Congrats on such a nice coop!
  15. chick-n-pigs
    Your craftsmanship is evidenced by the clean lines and above-par installation of the staples on the wire. Either your soil is easy to dig :) or your boys have picked up your attention to quality and detail.
  16. rauggie
    Wow, I wished I could of seeing this before... Great job and thank you sooooo much for sharing your construction knowledge with us...
  17. NebsFarm
    Great job and the experience of building this and having the chickens is something that will remain with the boys through their lives. Way to go.
  18. clogan98
    Does the metal siding add any issues with keeping the heat in during the winter? I like the idea of using that instead. I'd be afraid it would be too thin against the elements (wind, cold). I just built a coop but am not thrilled with it. I'm going to spend the winter building a new one in the garage. I really like a lot of the elements of this one though.
  19. BYC Project Manager
    Congratulations, we've chosen one of your pics for the CC-POW. Thanks for posting your coop design & pictures to our "Chicken Coops" pages! You can find more info about the CC-POW here: CC-POW Process
  20. jaxparadize
    Yeah! It looks awesome! I wonder how much it all cost.
    808tysonchicken: I've heard you want to give them 1 square foot for laying. I have my layers that much room and they seem comfy. a bit big but they seem to like the distance from one another.
  21. Tn treeguy
    Thanks for posting. I love your plan.I hpoe you don't mind me copying and making a few changes. My run is 16 ft long, and I left off the top laying boxes.What do you think the maximum occupancy should be, and would you do anything differently?
  22. 808tysonchicken
    how big is your laying boxes?
  23. chattykathy306
    Can't wait to show this to my husband. We will get our chicks in July and were discussing coop plans today. He is not very handy with such projects. Hard to see your drawn plans at the end. Hope he will be able to make a coop such as these talented and hard-working young men did!
  24. En Plein Air Farms
    Well done and what special young boys you have. Thank you for sharing your journey!
  25. FlockHappy

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