The Coop

Anatomy of Our Coop

June 22, 2017
chicken coop
Our Chicken/Duck Coop and Run

I’m not suggesting that our coop is the perfect fit for every flock, but it has functioned well for us and I think our mixed flock is quite happy. I also love browsing coop designs and their features, so I’m sharing mine.

Fowl acquisition began last February when we came home from North 40 with 11 chickens from five different breeds of birds in stock that day.

A week later, Trevor came home with another chicken, our White Crested Black Polish hen that he was already calling Lady Gaga for the cotton ball shaped fuzz on her head and her constant chirping. He also had two ducklings, a Swedish Blue named Flash and a Khaki Campbell named Nibbles. I was longing for a little yellow duckling, so a week after that, Trevor brought me a Pekin hen named Daisy.

Trevor built a brooder from an old, upside-down coffee table, the first of many items we’ve repurposed or upcycled. Our flock seemed to grow and sprout feathers as we watched. So we moved them to the shower stall in my laundry room and then the garden shed. Thankfully, they outgrew the shed just around the time that the ground thawed and the forecast predicted warmer days and decent coop building weather.

The previous winter, we looked at every chicken coop design imaginable on Pinterest for inspiration and I researched chicken keeping at the library. Trevor had kept chickens a few years earlier, but I was a complete newbie.

We decided we wanted a simple coop and run with a fully-covered slanted roof. Trevor sketched it on graph paper and I suggested must-haves and amenities from all my research.

During Coop Phase I, we built our fully-covered coop and run over the course of several weekends. Our goals were to simply have a functional coop to protect our chickens and ducks and repurpose or upcycle as many materials as possible in an effort to save money and because we just think it’s the right thing to do.

Here’s a summary of our coop and run materials, dimensions, must-haves and amenities:

 

The Coop

 

  • 4’ wide by 6’ deep. After trolling Craigslist for weeks for suitable lumber to reuse, we just couldn’t find sound wood, so we chose to buy new lumber for the coop and run structure.
  • Attached, un-partitioned, straw-lined 36” nesting box with a lid that we can open for quick egg retrieval…accessed by a slightly-kitschy but totally irresistible rooster knob from Hobby Lobby for the nesting box lid
  • Heat lamp
  • Two 32” roosts and plans to add at least one more
  • Coop window we keep propped open to provide an additional 30” of roosting space in warm weather. The roosts and window were purchased for repurposing from our favorite used building supplies warehouse.

    nesting box
    Un-Partitioned Nesting Box
  • 4” to 6” of pine shavings on the coop floor, adding more as needed. We’re trying the deep litter method.
  • The entire front panel of the coop opens and Trevor plans to put a small hatch at floor level at the back of the coop, so that it can be easily hosed out from front to back. The coop door has a single latch.
  • Floor lined with pond liner for easy cleaning
  • Ventilation. We reused vents leftover from a shop Trevor built at our previous home.
  • The 6’ ramp to the coop is covered with tire tread used for retreading semi tires. Trevor got this for free from work. It’s a coop conversation piece and even our ducks use the treaded ramp to put themselves to bed.
  • Metal roof. This was constructed from a carport we no longer needed.

 

chicken coop interior
Chicken-centric Left Wing

The Run

 

  • 120 square feet of fully-covered run
  • Two covered buckets fitted with 2 nipples each for a continuous supply off fresh water with a splash of apple cider vinegar for immune health
  • A kidney-shaped, 55-gallon pond that retails for $79 new, but we picked it up on Craigslist for $40. A friend just offered us a larger, deeper pond, so we’ll be excavating for that in place of the original pond soon. UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, we installed our new pond and the ducks love it! I blogged about how to clean it often yet easily. Check out 3 Essential Pools for Easy Duck Pond Mucking.
  • 80 gallon/hour pond pump to quickly drain the pool
  • Rocks and tree limbs around the pond for chicken perches
  • A hanging feeder
  • A galvanized bucket right next to the feeder that I change several times daily to provide clean water for our ducks to swish their food as they eat and dunk their heads to keep their mucous membranes clean
  • Two latches on the coop run door for double protection
  • One latch in the coop run to keep the door closed when I’m working inside the run so that our dog won’t paw it open
duck-pond-cleaning
The new duck pond allows our girls to properly swim, dive and preen. They jump in before the pond is full to the brim.

 

Phase 2: Projects for this Summer (Maybe)

 

  • Siding and paint to match the tan siding on our house with red accents because it’s my favorite color
  • A PVC pipe feeder for wider duck bills. UPDATE: Trevor built a duck feeder and everyone loves it!
  • A dedicated, ground floor duck house near the pond with a roof that opens like a hatch for easy egg retrieval
  • Locating a pond heater to keep the water from freezing over next winter

 

Phase 3: Long-Term Projects for Next Year

 

  • Three rabbit hutches on the back side of the coop that hover over additional run space to allow the fowl to eat the rabbit poop. These will be our meat rabbits.
  • A rooftop garden to grow fresh herbs for our flock

 

So far, we don’t have any regrets or do-overs when we think about both the function and aesthetics of our coop and run. We may thin our flock a bit, but our birds spend several hours each day as free-range fowl in the backyard.

For a gallery of our coop, visit my Facebook page here.

Comment below and tell me about your coop wins or share photos. I want to see!