Sunday, October 25, 2015

A fairy tale coop

I'm an artist. And a builder. Unfortunately these two talents, well, clash at times. I spend more time designing and thinking, than I do cutting and nailing.  I'm still designing, in my head, the perfect coop.  But that's another story. What I have built is this little lovely-

It started out to be just a nesting house.  The girls could go there and have their private time, and it would be cleaner than having the nesting box in the coop.  

 The dimensions are 4'x4'x 2' high on the side walls.  The back has double doors, that are in inset, to prevent prying paws of raccoons or other predators. Having no gaps is important, too, to prevent weasels, mink, and, in some areas, rats from getting into coops.  I made the house out of solid pine, even the roofing boards (I don't like to build with plywood or particle board.)  The solid wood construction made it quite a bit heavier, so I made the roof removable.  The ridge cap just sits on the top, and screws can be removed to release the two roof sections.


The proper hardware is essential for a chicken coop. I recommend barrel bolts.  The doors on the back overlap, and are held with this barrel bolt.  Since I wanted the front to look good, I used a more decorative slide bolt. 
 The vent above the overhang has both screen and hardware cloth.  There's glass in the windows, and the overhang helps keep out the weather.  Being raised up on the blocks allows for air circulation and ease of cleaning.  The floor and the side walls are insulated.
 Here's Abigail, my Ameraucana. She immediately
went in to lay her beautiful blue egg, when I let her out of the coop. She's a good girl. 
Well, I started noticing that my four Barred Rock ladies (they are 5 1/2 years old) were getting grief from Francois the rooster when they tried to go in the coop.  He wasn't hurting them, he just prevented them from entering. The next night they also seemed hesitant to go in, when he wasn't bothering them.  They are molting now, and it's uncomfortable for them.  They like their space.

Here are my Barred Rocks enjoying a butternut squash.
 I then decided to turn the quaint nesting house into a special coop as well, just for my Barred Rock ladies. They are very special to me, since they are four of the first chickens that I every raised.   I will always favor them. They will live out their entire life with me, no matter how long they continue to lay (and they were currently laying up until molt, at 5 1/2 years old.) 
Originally, the tray on top was going to have hay for nesting as well. I modified that with a wider board for roosting, and lined the tray with pine bedding.  
 Good morning, girls. This was their second night in the coop. 

Chickens are creatures of habit.  The ladies have only spent two nights in the coop, and both nights I had to put them in there.  I'm sure though, that they will soon be going in on their own.  I can't imagine that they wouldn't prefer this to living in the other coop with the youngsters.  My chickens aren't very spoiled, are they.   

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