Coop build - low tech automation


In the Brooder
Sep 10, 2021
If I've learned anything over 20+ years of keeping chickens, its that every situation is unique, resources are unique to each home, and learning never stops!

My first coop build was in northern most Maine where its common for white stuff to be on the ground for 7 months out of the year. I kept my chickens healthy and laying through the winter (though now I'd let them naturally have a rest). I built it 8ft x 8ft, but only 2-foot tall walls and 4ft at the peak running the length and with large window at one end. It was inside a fenced run 30x20ft with a shade canopy. The reason for the low height was to keep body heat closer to their floor in winter. It was built only inches above ground with wood flooring and lots of litter. One long roost pole, A caged heat lamp, and a hinged roof for me to reach in with the pop door being hinged for sweeping out. In the deep winter when snows reached roof height, I padded the exterior with bales of straw and used more bales to create a wind break for my snow-shoed access. It was brutal but it worked fine for 20 hens. My next build would ensure an insulated floor/walls, and walk-in height for my aching back.

I built my next in CT up on cinder blocks - allowed them to run underneath for hawk protection. 8ft x 8ft x 8ft for 18-20 hens. I insulated the walls and floor and for interior walls used the smooth coated white board which kept dust at a minimum and was easy to wipe clean. I built a 4-place nestbox on the wall off the floor - underneath it ran a pvc pipe with watering nipples all along. Built into it above was a slanted (no stray nests) hinged storage area. Because my career required periodic 1-week excursions, I needed to automate water and feed to keep the babysitter's task only to egg collection. The pvc watering pipe fed by gravity via a tube with safety valve to a large black rubbermaid barrel that sat up on an old aquarium stand. I filled it once or twice a month by hose. I built an interior feeder bin with hinged lid - rodent proof, with section for grit, that held a full bag of feed. The roosts were perpendicular in a criss-cross ladder shape - no over lap and lots of pecking order space. I placed on top of the lowest rungs (about 1/4 height above the floor) a poop catcher shelf that had removeable board sections for easier cleaning removal. The chicken door slid upward to open and I rigged a rope at the top, up through an eye-hook, and it ran all the way up to the 2nd story of my house - to a window in the hall just outside my bedroom. 6am comes early and all I had to do was open the window a crack, hoist up the rope about 20 inches, and secure to a cleat. Then go back to bed! LOL The coop had spoked ceiling rafters which was a roosting problem so I put shelving up over it - which added great storage space. I ran an extension chord for an electric light as well. The chicken yard was a 50ft x 50ft area. The fencing was sunk straight down in a filled-in trench about 18". Fence was about 6ft high. I ran 2 electric wires: one at 2 feet up and one along the top. I also kept a fake plastic owl that i moved from pole to pole periodically. Only thing I'd do differently was place the water-nipples higher and put a rubber protection underneath them. Lots of drips if hens have to peck at them too much from an angle instead of straight up! The whole set up was in a much larger yard (where I'd let them free range late afternoons) surrounded by wetlands, and woods (lots of wildlife). Neighbors wondered what the heck I was going to be keeping inside that fence - but a fence is all about what I was needing to keep out, not in. Even with all that, raccoons and Fisher cats and hawks were a constant threat. But the payoff was the whole set up was very visible to a busy rural road and families with kids would come to see the "Chick-Inn" zoo. I painted a mural on the coop and offered honor-system eggs for sale from my mini frig set up on my front porch. I cried when 2 years later my career required I move and had to dismantle the whole thing.


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Happy hen lover

Jan 14, 2021
SW Nebraska
I love it too great pictures for some great ideas for folks. So maybe I'm confused but do you have chickens now? Love the way you fixed it so they would be taken care of while you're gone. I loved the rope to bedroom window best! :wee :thumbsup
Question who gathered eggs while you were gone?

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