I am an all around animal lover. My parents....not so much. Every house hold pet was either brought in through guilt tripping (death of a hamster led to a rabbit, death of the rabbit led to cockatiels...) or snuck in under false pretenses (we are just watching this kitten until my friend can take it! I swear!). So it's not surprising that as an adult, I've been exercising my right to have any pet I have the means to take care of.
At some point last winter I decided I wanted chickens. I had been poking around this site and it convinced me that I should probably own a couple. It wasn't a necessity. My Fiancé has had chickens all his life and we received our eggs from his family free of charge, so it wasn't really about eggs. It was about wanting more pets.
Where I live, I am allowed 4 hens following certain stipulations and the purchase of a permit. I knew for a fact that there was no way I'd be able to have JUST four.
Fortunately my grandmother's house is right down the road, and half the property Is agriculturally zoned. Meaning: no restrictions when it comes to chicken owning as long as I'm on that side of the property. I was too new to chickens to really have any specific breeds in mind, so I contacted someone on craigslist (who I know is on this site, so hi if you recognize me!) and asked them to hatch 15 eggs for me from their flock. 21 days later I had 15 fluff balls in a livestock tank in my basement.
As many Wisconsinites will remember, we didn't really have much of a spring this year. Winter dragged on and on. So while my chicks were growing bigger and bigger, we were running out of more and more time to get the coop built.
I have no woodworking skills other than what I learned in woodshop in college (not much). I was going to wing it, but every time I did anything different than how my father would, he intervened. Eventually it became HIS project.
I told him what I wanted design wise along with rough measurements, and then he made it up as he went along.
To keep it simple we made it 8X8ft.
I wanted it plat formed so that we could utilize the space beneath the coop.
We went with an A-frame roof so that we could walk inside the coop to clean without ducking.
I'm sure that's not what normal roof framing looks like... But like I said, we made it up as we went, and hey, it worked out in the end!
Meanwhile the chicks were no longer so fluffy. I made a PVC feeder to reduce wasted food and allow a little more space in the tank. They were quickly outgrowing it.
We used the Kubota to put anything heavy on the roof.
(Proof that I kind of helped.)
The Kubota was also utilized as a ladder on many occasions.
I also did some of the shingling.
My fiancé was roped into doing the final shingles.
I tried to be useful and figure out where the run would go, but it was way too soon for that.
Windows were $15 each from a friend, door was free from another. The stairs were purchased as a kit from Home depot.
Per other peoples recommendations on this site, we used a few coats of Blackjack on the floor. The ceiling was insulated and covered with plywood. As anyone who ever painted plywood knows, it soaks it up like crazy. I think the ceiling needed 5 coats of paint before I was happy with it.
Originally we were going to try and find cheap siding or paneling for the outside. But no, dad wanted to make it look nice so we used these metal sheets from Menards. As long as he was paying for it, I was fine with it. We fully insulated the entire coop, the bottom included, before covering it with sheeting.
Main coop complete!
Five of my fifteen ended up being roosters and were given away. The remaining ten were beyond happy to be in such a large space.
The roost is above a tray filled with sweet PDZ. We use a kitty litter scoop every couple of days to sift out the droppings. Makes clean up very easy and helps with smell.
We took a couple weeks off before coming back to work on the run. Working with the hardware cloth was not something we were looking forward to. In hindsight it would have been easier to dig out the bottom of the run before putting in the poles.
It had been fairly obvious that most of my hens were barred rock mixes, so I had decided I needed some variety. I purchased 10 more chicks and raised them in the basement until they were big enough to fend against the older ones. They spent a week in a dog kennel within the coop to let the others get accustom to them, and hopefully deter any attacks.
It was during this time that the most cursing occurred. A lot of wondering why I decided it was a good idea to have chickens. The hardware cloth goes all the way under the run and fans out on the sides of the coop where we couldn't get under.
It didn't take them long to realize how great the run was.
Right now it is filled with sand and dirt. Next year I will buy some better grade quality sand to hopefully stop it from getting mucky.
Six of the new ten ended up being boys and given away, so my final number was 14.
We replanted grass and added some daisies for aesthetic value. For the winter my father made a roof for the run with PVC pipes and a clear tarp. It keeps it from getting swampy and provides some protection from snowfall.
Overall the hens are happy and we are getting enough eggs to give to the extended family!