The Evolution of a Habitrail style chicken compound

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by HHandbasket, Nov 6, 2010.

  1. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    So we started out last May with our coop. We saw the chicken arks and thought that was just what we needed for the 2-3 laying hens we were planning to get! We purchased and downloaded the blueprints/plans, bought the materials, and built said chicken coop in a day! Next day, we went and purchased our first flock, though by that time we had decided on 4 hens. Well, long story short... our original flock had 5 pullets. (Can you see the chicken math starting to evolve here??) They were still small & we figured we could expand the coop later. Besides, the girls would eventually free-range in the back yard during the day and would probably only use the coop for sleeping and laying eggs so we wouldn't need quite as much coop space as we would if they were going to be confined to a coop and run.

    In the interim, my husband and son built a lean-to against the back fence for storing feed, bedding, hay, etc. It was about 3 feet wide and 8 feet long and 8 feet tall. Within days of it being erected, I took a good look at it and thought to myself, "Now, we could attach the ark to that and put in an old bookshelf and some milk crates with bedding straw and expand the coop, give the girls more places to roost so they aren't sleeping over the nesting boxes." Our original tiny ark, it turned out, would have been ideal for our original 2-3 hen idea but was not adequate for the 5 pullets we ended up with, so this more than doubled their living space. Chicken wire was put up, weather protection was availed, and the bedding/hay/feed was relegated back to its original place in the middle of the garage, and the chicken ark and lean-to were joined as one structure with nesting boxes and a run at one end, joined at the center of the run to another run with more roosts/boxes (milk crates--they ended up using them to roost on and avoided the roosting bar). Our girls enjoyed this coop for several months.

    Then... I got an idea. We have some old kitchen cabinets in our garage that we picked up when some friends of ours remodeled their kitchen a couple of years back. Lo and behold, before we knew it, DH had gone out there and turned one of the cabinets into nesting boxes, and an open-air mini coop was created to house the 3 straight-run chicks we had acquired from a fellow BYCer. It was put in a separate part of the yard & was a great outdoor start for the chicks when they were old enough to go outside (truth be told, they were only about 3-4 weeks when I put them out there, but it was July and we are in northern/central California where the nights are mild in the summer--and all three are healthy and have done extremely well).

    Fast forward to October. Chickens are doing well, got 1 laying eggs daily (the leghorn), got 1 laying 4-5 a week (the EE, just started). I'm always perusing craigslist, the newspaper, the pennysaver (a local sales flyer that comes in the mail where individuals can place for-sales ads--a relic of times past when the internet did not exist), bulletin boards at feed stores, etc., looking to see what I can see for chicken supplies (I'm sure I don't need to explain this phenomenon to ANYONE here LOL). Girls are all getting big, and I've been gettin' the itch to add to the flock but we are at capacity space-wise (not overcrowded at all--our flock was just right). I had thought off and on about the possibility of converting a Little Tikes playhouse (or other brand--whatever I could find) into a coop. I figured it'd be about right for 2 hens, and we want to expand by 2, giving ourselves 8 (which is my "lucky number"). Finally, I find the perfect playhouse for way cheap in excellent condition, and we go buy it. That exact same day was the day our Felipa got eggbound and died--she was our leghorn & never even got to see the new coop.

    The playhouse fit perfectly on top of the mini coop we'd built out of the old kitchen cabinet, but we came up with the idea to attach the mini off the other side of the ark and then attach the playhouse to the end of that.

    What has happened is that we have the chicken coop equivalent of one of those Habitrail hamster environments. It's really cool, and there are 4 doors for entry/cleaning (I can actually fit inside 3 of them LOL--one is a 7-foot walk in door, though). My husband, the marvelous carpenter who put this whole thing together, is pretty proud of himself, and I am so pleased with all his hard work and the pleasant outcome! The chooks seem to be a little disoriented not only by the loss of Felipa (and the eerie quiet that has overtaken the backyard without her constant cackle) but also by the new coop setup, but they seem to like it and have been checking out and exploring all the new places to go in their new coop. This new set-up is also going to be much more conducive to keeping the girls warm and protected when it does get bitterly cold here. We usually have only a very few bitterly cold days here in winter & I want to make sure everybody's snug as a bug in a rug when it does happen. Farmer Lew has done an excellent job with building this whole set-up, and he likes to call his creation "Taj MaCoop".

    We got a new pullet this week to replace Felipa's egg-laying duties (could never replace HER, but she was a daily layer & we relied on her pretty heavily LOL). We're picking up our final 2 pullets this weekend so we have our total of 8, which is what we are able to house now with all the new coop/space additions. There are plans in the works for another mini-coop to add to the OPPOSITE side of the coop to further expand in the spring and add a marans and/or another white egglayer (blackfaced Spanish/minorca maybe??) to the flock.

    We took some pics earlier & I'll be posting them in the morning (too tired to mess with the SD card reader thingie right now).

    Thanks for reading.

  2. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    Can't wait to see the pics....
  3. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer Premium Member 8 Years

    May 11, 2010
    I second the motion for pics!
  4. Kansaseq

    Kansaseq Prairie Wolf Farm Asylum

    Feb 12, 2009
    NE Kansas

  5. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    Here is a couple of preliminary pictures still in process... notice the blue tarp. It will be gone by this time tomorrow, is just there to temporarily cover.


    This is from the right. You can see the human-sized door to the run and the little playhouse door open for free access during the day. Maggie the Cat is watching under the sidewalk for mice, which she catches, kills, and leaves in front of the henhouse for the chickens to eat and recycle into yummy eggs for us!!!

    Below is the view from the left. The chook you see in the picture is Lola, the newest of our girls. We bought her this week from a lady on craigslist. She is a real sweetie, too.


    You can see the cord coming from the garage/shed for the coop light. That is being made more appropriate tomorrow with a more solid light fixture and electrical conduit to protect the cord in adverse weather.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2010
  6. Mrs. Fluffy Puffy

    Mrs. Fluffy Puffy Fluffy Feather Farm

    Jan 26, 2010
    Texas, Panhandle
    Love It - [​IMG]
    We don't get to see pics of the chooks? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  7. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    They run when we whip out the cameras. LOL! I'll post some pics of the girls enjoying their new digs in the next day or so.

    I love being a chicken mama.

  8. Mrs. Fluffy Puffy

    Mrs. Fluffy Puffy Fluffy Feather Farm

    Jan 26, 2010
    Texas, Panhandle
    Don't I Know It - [​IMG]
  9. Dixiedoodle

    Dixiedoodle Songster

    Apr 14, 2007
    Lucky-- your husband will go along w/ it and even add things himself.. Mine says "no more coops (here)" cuz we are going to be moving to our forever farm soon...-- Please add pictures of your girls..

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by