We decided to raise chickens in the summer of 2016. We did quite a bit of research about all things chicken. BYC has been an unbelievable resource. We bought our Chicks from MyPetChicken timed to arrive late April 2017. We poured over the coops section and finally decided on the Daisy coop design. We bought the plans from MyPetChicken. The plans cost $35 and were well worth the price. The coop is 4'deep x 8'wide. Plus three nest boxes on each side. Facing the coop we are using the left boxes for nests, the boxes on the right are used for storage. We chose to elevate the coop 24" off the ground. From the rear doors you can clean the coop with a rake into a wheel barrow. We have 7 pullets and three nests works just fine.
My brother did the framing at his house and then we used a tractor to load it on a trailer and drove it to our house. My brother is very skilled at building, but neither of us had any chicken experience prior to the build.
The run was my design. It is 8' square. with wals 6' high. 2x4 construction, with PT plywood on the roof. The roof slightly overhangs the gutter on the coop so any drips heading toward the coop goes into the gutter and into the rain barrel in the non-winter. A roof rake will be essential to clear the flat roof. I removed the barrel for the winter. The run and area under the coop are completely enclosed with HW cloth. Dug down 6" and extended out 2'. So far no evidence of digging. The very first morning that the chicks were in the coop, I saw a fox checking out the scene.
A few things we added. The gable vents are a bit smaller than called for in the plans. We added the ridge vent. I wish we had run it the entire length of the roof. I use a roof rake to clear snow that interferes with the ridge vent. If I did it over, I would add a large Coppola to increase the overhead ventilation. In the spring, I will add two more windows to the rear of the coop. Here is a picture from the back. (Note this is a picture taken from the mypetchicken website. The two doors open out. I am thinking about windows that open like this. Which would prevent rain from getting in. Something like this. I think the ventilation is already pretty good, but I see opportunity to add.
The coop has worked out well. The two windows are always open. With the run roof where it is, no rain or snow gets in. There is hardware cloth in place of the screens. There are two removable poop boards, stretching the 8' width of the coop. We use Sweet PDZ in them and that seems to have eliminated the anticipated coop smell. I had anticipated cleaning out the coop every few weeks. But, I find that a vast majority of the indoor pooping happens in the poop boards. So, they get scooped every 3-4 days. The pine shavings were removed once after two months. That was a wasted effort. I will play it by ear as to when I will clean it out. Maybe if it starts to smell.
The run started out as hard packed dirt that had poor cover.
All summer I put grass clippings in the run. In the fall leaves. And the one time I cleaned out the pine shavings from the coop, I added them. The run is now 4-6" of soft composting material. I will use this in the gardens in the spring. Here is a more recent picture.
This is a good time to mention the feeder and water.
The feeder is a 3'x3" PVC tube. With a 3"cover and a 6' base. There is a notch cut at the bottom which allows the feed out. The base is deep enough to prevent waste on the ground. Feed lasts about three days for 7 pullets. At some point I will swap out the tube for something larger.
The water is a 5 gallon bucket with 3 horizontal nipples. Cover is on loosely. Elevated on a cinder block. Wedged under the coop which prevents them from going on top of it.
The run has been winterized by adding 6mil plastic wrap on the south, east and west sides. The plastic roll was 10'x25. the south and north sides have 5 of the 6 foot walls covered. Left the top one foot open for ventilation. Under the coop is completely wrapped. Under there is a spot where they do their dust bathing. The run has a corner with a couple roosts. The pullets get limited free range when we are home to supervise.
A few things that we added. 2x4s on end at the pop door, entrance to the nest boxes and at the rear to keep in the pine shavings. There is a remote temp sensor to record temp and humidity inside. It is at roost height hidden behind a board to prevent pecking.
We didn't paint inside, that would have made sense. We did paint the nest box black to make it darker.
The nest box roof opens to give access to the eggs. It is very heavy. I will either put a hydraulic assist or add doors that open down on the side of the nest box. That might make the most sense as it would also allow kids the ability to see into the nest boxes.
A bit about the chickens. We order 16 all female day old chicks. We were planning to give 6 away to a friend and keep the rest. We thought we might have a few casualties. Or a few might be males. In the first 6 days we lost 4 chicks. I attribute that to my inexperience managing a brooder. We gave 5 away and kept 7. 2 Rhode Island Reds (Lucy and Annie), 2 White Plymouth Rocks (Chicaletta and Marilyn), EE Becky, Light Brama Mini, Buff Orp Sandy. They all started laying 19 - 26 weeks. Becky gave up for the winter. The other 6 are still getting us 2-3 eggs a day.
We are eight months in and having a blast. Any comments would be appreciated.