This coop is actually our second chicken coop. The first coop we built ourselves and it was great! However it was not as safe as we thought and we lost our chickens to a predator. After that we decided not to get more chickens till we had a safer coop and more time to care for them. It was also quite a large coop and it sat at the edge of our property which also happens to be the bottom of a hill. This made it very hard for my ageing mother to care for or even enjoy the chickens, especially in bad weather. After much thought we decided instead of building one we would buy a new coop that was a bit smaller and could sit by our house (It was my mother's christmas/graduation from nursing school gift). The first thing we looked for was that the coop would be small enough to fit in the shaded spot on our property we had picked out (we wanted shade so the coop would stay cool in the warmer months). We also wanted it to hold a decent amount of chickens while still making it easy to care for them plus be predator proof. So after searching for a coop that would suit our needs we found this one at a local shed/fence company.
It was very safe and the perfect size!
It also had four nest boxes which we decided to put some curtains on to give the hens some privacy while laying and discourage broody behavior/egg eating (once the hens start laying we will close the curtains). Plus they have the added bonus of being SUPER cute!
After we got it home I started right away searching for ways to improve it. The first thing I did was paint the inside a light color to make it brighter for the chickens. The next thing I did was put linoleum flooring in the coop and the nest boxes to make cleaning a bit easier. We also put a lip at the human door as well as the smaller chicken door to keep the straw inside the coop where it belongs.
Next we built the run using 2 x 4 and chicken wire (sorry I didn't take pictures during construction). We built it to be level with the roof of the coop and put clear plastic corregated roofing on it to help keep snow/rain out while still allowing sun to shine through. We also placed large rocks all along the bottom of the run to help discourage digging predators.
You can see in this picture that we also put a concrete slab step in front of the door to prevent a mud pit from forming in a "high traffic" area.
The run door also has a bolt latch on the top half to add another aspect of safety.
We added this curtain at the end of the coop to provide shade after we realized that although the coop is always shaded the run is not. The sun was shining directly into the run during mid-afternoon making it too hot for our little chickens. It was created for $15 using a shower curtain, tension rod, and some shower curtain hooks. It was inexpensive and can be easily moved or removed during colder months!
Once the run was built we thought it would be a good idea to beef up our predator proofing a bit. We put clips on the small chicken door, the nest box, and started using a key on the large human door.
(we take the key out at night so little coon fingers can't open the door LOL)
The coop already had hardware cloth and a bolt latch on the large ventilation window and my Dad put it on the small window as well so predators couldn't rip open the screen.
(The flower box under the window has basil, oregano, and mint planted in it during summer months for us to use in the kitchen for cooking or in the coop to keep pests such as flies away) The run is lacking a bit in safety because we used chicken wire so we wanted to be sure the coop itself was absolutely predator proof for when we lock them in at night.
We also installed an indoor feeder/waterer, and outdoor waterer, and a wider roosting bar using scraps of 2x4s (so that their little chicken toes wouldn't get frost bite during the very cold winter months). After this picture was taken another wide roosting bar was added. We realized the chickens had grown quite a bit and it was necessary in order to allow enough space for everyone to roost comfortably at night.
We also placed a thermometer/humidity reader and an extension cord for electricity in the coop so I could keep tabs on the temp/humidity of their coop then add a fan or heat lamp if needed.
Next we started the fun stuff like decoration and chicken enrichment! We put decor on the outside of the coop, added some plants/a flower bed, and a sign on the door. (we got the idea for the Chick Inn from the coops section on the forum- Thank You BYC!)
We planted a Bloomerang lilac bush so that as it grows it will provide more shade in the run. We are hoping our little garden fox will keep the real foxes away lol. In all seriousness though we have been thinking about putting some kind of fox or owl decoy by the coop as we have had problems with predators in the past.
For the chicken enrichment we put in LOTS of stuff!
We use a suet feeder for scraps and weeds for them to munch on.
We also put mealworms in a chicken treat ball to keep them from getting bored.
This is a sand/grit pit I made for the chicks to dust bath in and get grit from but I have since replaced it with a dish of oyster shell for them to eat as needed.
At the far end of the coop run we used to have sticks for roosting but we replaced them with a catwalk to use some of the vertical space in the run.
Occasionally we also put twigs and branches with leaves on them in the coop to create a little shady thicket. Then we throw scratch or mealwroms in it so they have to forage for their treats.
On extra hot days we make frozen chicken pops by freezing watermelon, blueberries, and mint. We also place a shallow tub of ice water in the coop for them to wade in and put frozen water bottles in the waterers to keep them nice and cold.
Finally we put fake eggs in the nest boxes so our girls know where to lay and got a cute little basket to collect eggs.
Its now October and after doing some fall decorating and a couple minor changes to better suit our now fully grown flock we are looking towards the future and what will be needed to get them safely and comfortably through the winter.
Our little Chick Inn is still a work in progress and is constantly evolving to better meet the needs of our little Chocks. Thanks for taking a peek and I hope it gives someone inspiration for their own coop!
Click HERE to read our chicken story and meet our flock!