The Coop

Instalment #3

The coop is by far one of the biggest projects we've ever worked on! We've done many different house renos, but this was a total "from scratch" project with many evenings and weekends spent doing manual labour. But, we’re both incredibly proud with how it turned out.

We essentially had a shell to work from, albeit a great one - a metal shed with studs, sitting on a concrete pad, with a great shingled roof. There was a big space behind it that allowed a mix of sun and cloud for an enclosed run.

The back of the coop with run space.

The back of the coop with run space.

The front of the coop.

The front of the coop.

The inside of the coop.

The inside of the coop.

We started converting the shed last fall by building the attached run. We started to cover with hardware cloth, but other projects took over so we left it until this spring.

Come spring, and we were back at it. We first insulated the entire coop, including the ceiling. We used the 1970’s hardboard that we took out of our spare rooms - we had just the right amount. I love repurposing materials! Our girls have a retro little home.

Insulating after Hubby framed windows.

Insulating after Hubby framed windows.

Fully insulated.

Fully insulated.

The coop and run are completely predator-proofed. We used hardware cloth everywhere - to enclose the run, on the windows, and even extending it out over a foot around the perimeter of the run so nothing can dig from underneath.

Hubby handmade all five windows and did a fantastic job! We found a big piece of plexiglass in our big storage building (future barn), and the size was perfect for what we needed. He crafted the windows themselves, inserted the plexiglass, and attached all the different wood pieces to keep everything in place. He made window frames in the coop and cut open the spaces to insert them. We put hardware cloth on them, as well as bug screen. We get LOTS of mosquitos and flies, and I didn’t want my girls to get eaten alive. With that in place, their coop is mosquito free. He put trim on everything to keep them from pecking insulation, as well as making it look much nicer.

The coop is basically a coop within a coop. The space is big inside, so we created a space within that still gives them plenty of room but allows me to walk in without chickens everywhere, have storage space they can’t get into, and clean it with ease. I LOVE this coop! The girls do too!

For their space, we used 1” chicken wire to simply keep them contained. 

For their space, we used 1” chicken wire to simply keep them contained. 

The finished coop! Details below.

They have grass, mud and all the good stuff outside in their run, so I’m using coarse sand in their coop. It’s amazing! Stays dry, easy to clean (I use a kitty litter scooper), and their feet stay cleaner compared to the flax bedding that was in their brooder. Since the sand is coarse, there’s no dust. I also sprinkled some diatomaceous earth (food grade) in there to prevent lice or mites. 

Their feeder and waterer hangs securely from a stud in the ceiling, and I provide some grit as well. They obviously have sand they can eat if they want, but they still prefer their grit. Since their eating lots of grass and bugs outside, I want to make sure they’re getting everything they need.

Hubby put in their roost, which is a 2x4. Chickens like to sleep flat-footed and this allows for that. He also put in a ladder to help them get up. We included their branches from their brooder for something familiar. They like having afternoon siestas on the ladder and branches. At night, they’re all lined up on the roost, where they should be.

We have three doors you can access (door to the run, door to the coop, and door to their coop) that all have barrel locks on them. They are a “two-lock” system - you have to move the lock up and over. I read that this is the best lock to use, as predators like raccoons can open doors and other sliding locks.

There are also two big doors that open and close together. These were already here, so Hubby insulated them, and attached wood at the bottom to prevent anything from crawling under (like weasels). He made a wood lock for these doors, and I can swing them open to sweep things out. It’ll also be handy when I do a deep clean and can shove everything out through there.

The big doors now have wood at the bottom (not seen in this pic) to prevent predators from getting in.

The big doors now have wood at the bottom (not seen in this pic) to prevent predators from getting in.

Last but not least, he created a door space for them to get in and out of their run. He made a little insulated door, and put a handle on it and a lock system to keep it open and closed. I open this in the morning and close it at night.

Attaching their ramp before cutting it completely open.

Attaching their ramp before cutting it completely open.

My girls LOVE  this space. They have tons of room, and can do all the chicken things they’re meant to do, like scratch, eat greens and bugs, enjoy the breeze, run around, and flap their wings. If I’m in the run, they all run out to greet me. If I go in the coop, they all come in to see what I’m doing. I never thought chickens could be cute, but they are! They all know me and like to surround my feet and stare at me… they make me laugh.

Finished run! The grass around will grow - we had to bury the hardware cloth under it.

Finished run! The grass around will grow - we had to bury the hardware cloth under it.

Happy chickens eating away.

Happy chickens eating away.

Daisy still has to get used to them. I bring her by them daily, but she still gets pretty excited when she sees them - her little wolf instincts kick in. If she’s there long enough, she’ll lose interest so I think there’s hope! It will be a slow process, but it’s always like that with Daisy.

A few shingles to replace, but a solid building! One day I'll paint it red and white.

A few shingles to replace, but a solid building! One day I'll paint it red and white.

We've got the coop ready for electricity, but we still have to dig a trench from the house to hook it all up. We'll do that in late summer. In the meantime, the coop is cool in these hot summer days, bright, and very comfortable.