A "Garden Coop"/Wichita Coop Modification
Built February, 2012
I had been wanting chickens for many years now but have not been able to convince THR (the Head Rooster) that it was a good idea. In mid Feb. the itch struck again and I came home from the store with a "Grit Guide to Chickens". I left it on the counter to read later. THR saw it there and asked me if I wanted to get chickens this spring. I told him that I would love to get chickens. He volunteered that he thought it would be a great idea for me and the kids. I already knew the local ordinances which allow chickens but prohibit roosters in the city. I started to dwell on the idea some more.
Two weeks later I came home with 6 Production Red chicks from TSC. [Three for me and three for a friend] and a few days after that brought home some EE from a local 14yo chicken breeder.
Like most people I went at things a little backwards. Chicks before brooder or coop. I used cardboard on the sides of my dog crate (24”wx36”dx26”h). The dog was miffed but the chicks liked it just fine!
I proceeded to search for the perfect urban neighborhood coop. We live in an older subdivision with large fenced in lots. Our yard is bordered with trees and undergrowth behind our back fence. We have a standard poodle and our neighbors each have dogs. We routinely see opossums, raccoons, deer, hawks and owls in our neighborhood. Nearby is a lg wooded creek area. Predator protection is high on my need list. I was looking for a rustic but attractive coop as well. I saw the Wichita Cabin Coop and really liked the thought that was put into ease of cleaning and sturdiness. I however did not want to have to think through all the wood cuts and hack my own from someone else’s photos and description.
The coop itself has cost around $700. I also purchased a pop door controller from Murray McMurray Hatchery that is not included in the above cost. It was pricy but I expect it will be worth it in the long run.
I purchased all my lumber from an independent lumber yard not one of the big box stores. That was a source of incredible savings and much better lumber quality. Also they delivered! Fasteners and other hardware was purchased at the home improvement stores. I purchased hardware cloth from my local AgriSupply and poultry staples came from Southern States.
The creator of The Garden Coop plans has asked that users do not go into too much detail regarding the actual building of their plans; so I will only share what I changed or wish I had changed.
1. Horizontal supports for wall panels need to be placed wide face out. This helps to provide stapling surfaces and allows for only 3’ wide hardware cloth to be purchased instead of two separate sizes.
2. Hen house was lowered to the 2’ level to aid in children gathering eggs.
3. Exterior nesting box placed to open up floor area.
4. Front wall made into door to aid in clean out.
5. Solid roof with ventilation port placed in hen house.
6. All doors open out
7. Pop door in side of coop instead of in floor
8. No metal brackets used
9. 4x8x16 masonry brick used around entire perimeter of coop
10. Hen house is on opposite side of coop so I can keep my eye on it better from the kitchen window!
11. No double walls. We live in the hot humid south with rare 0 degree temps.
The nice thing is the actual building took just a few long days. I had the help of my father for 3 days and I hired a 13 year old boy to help with the roof since my father and I are neither light or nimble.
In some ways I wish I had stuck to my original plan to build an 8x10. I feel this is smaller than what I would like and I don't expect to be able to build again. However, I might be able to close in the left side and make an external run. We shall see. That would be way down the road. Please feel free to PM me for questions.
2/6/2015 3 year update:
This coop has served us well. I keep 8 large hens in it who free range every day and we close up every night. I would prefer the roof to be larger to protect the run area in the rain. It is offset ot protect the nesting box. It needs to be longer in the back and left side. We have a lot of rain in South Carolina. Again. I would prefer it to be about 4 feet in each direction larger and increasing the hen house size proportionally. 8 hens is a good number for us. It provides us 6-8 eggs during the laying season and 2-4 eggs in our winters each day.
I have added and hen door from the run to the outside. We have a family of 4 and have enough eggs to feed us and my parents and extra to occasionally sell.
The pop door controller has been a mixed success. I have not found any that are durable for long periods of time. They are very convenient but so are kids. ;-D We use them mostly when going out of town as our girls are trained well.
I have a maternity ward as well now. We have one hen that is a great broody hen. We separate her in a prefab coop when she is brooding. She decides when the chick are ready for the big coop and have never had a problem with bullying.