Saturday, April 6, 2013

Chicken Coop

We've had our chickens for almost a year now, and I am just now getting around to posting pictures, sheesh.  I keep thinking I will go out and give it a good cleaning, touch up a few of the last paint spots, and THEN post pictures...but life keeps happening and that plan doesn't.  So you are getting real life "finished" pictures.

We got our 9 chickens almost exactly a year ago.  We got three Americaunas, three Salmon Favorelles, and three Rhode Island Reds.  One of the Salmon Favorelles turned out to be a rooster, but we find him amusing so he gets to stay.  Even though he doesn't contribute anything except noise and entertainment for Lucy.  Actually, all 9 of the chickens are pretty good entertainment, we like having them around.

Andrew built our chicken coop from scratch, with a lot of pieces we had on hand.  He looked at a lot of plans on this website and created something that had everything we wanted in it.  We wanted a run and coop that was completely enclosed so we wouldn't have to worry about any beasties bothering them.  Underneath the outer frame there are paving stones to keep the wood off the ground.  And underneath the paving stones there is heavy duty wire mesh to keep animals from burrowing underneath.

The roof covering the whole of their run keeps the ground from getting muddy during the rainy weather here. At some point we would like to build some mobile chicken tractors so we can let them pick around out in the yard, hopefully this spring and summer.  We also wanted the roof high enough that it didn't feel cramped for us to get inside and clean up or hang out with our chickens.  The front of the coop is about 6 feet high and the back is about 4 feet, plenty of room to go inside and stand up.
We have a hanging water bucket and a hanging food bucket so that they can't get in them and make a mess of their food and water.  We went through some other containers and watering systems, but this has been the best.  When we used buckets they liked to sit on top of the bucket and go for a ride.  When we used a watering pipe with a nipple for them to drink from, they didn't seem to drink enough.  So we have settled with these hanging systems, attached with carabiners so that they are easy to remove for deep cleaning and filling.  We feed them grain from Scratch and Peck, an awesome grain that is all soy-fee, non-GMO, and locally grown.  We also toss them lots of kitchen scraps and weeds and worms from the compost.
This is the inside of the cedar, unpainted area you see.  It's the coop, where they roost at night.  When you go in the run, there is a large drop down door for easy access for cleaning, which it is going to get today.  This is pretty dirty for our coop.   We clean about once a month, sometimes we can go longer.  It's pretty easy, just scoop everything out to toss in our compost pile and lay in fresh pine shavings.  You can also see the nesting boxes from chicken's perspective, and one of the eggs from the Salmon Favorelles, who can't seem to find the nesting boxes consistently.
These are the nesting boxes from the outside, with easy access from the drop down door.When you open the door you get to see these lovely beauties.  The dark browns are from the Rhode Island Reds, the blues and greens are from the Americaunas, and the creamy light browns are from the Salmon Favorelles.  We are getting about 6 a day from our 8 hens, during the Winter we got about 4 a day.

And our rooster, because he's pretty like that.  And so you can see the ramp they use to climb on in their coop at night.
And if you want to see pictures of the coop taken through the building process, here is a little slideshow.

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