Chicken Coop

Our backyard chicken coop has been mostly done for many months now, but I wanted to put some finishing touches on it before I wrote up the project on my blog. Well, just last week I found the time to finish it off, so here goes.

The coop build started about a year ago. As usual, I had a picture of what I wanted in my head and I made some rough drawings on paper as a sanity check. Then I started digging holes in the back yard.

I trenched out the perimeter, so that the hardware cloth on the fence would extend under the ground. Hopefully this will make it harder for predators to dig their way in. I dug twelve post holes and started building the perimeter fence.

Once the fence was complete I moved on to framing the hen house. I wanted the hen house to sit atop the run on the corner closest to our house, so that it would be visible from our back door and accessible on two sides.

Next up were the two gates. Since the top of the run was going to be covered in hardware cloth as well as the perimeter fence, I decided to build a large gate of sorts into the roof. This allows me to raise a big section of the roof and gain access to the run without crawling on my hands and knees through chicken poop. I also built a more conventional gate in the perimeter fence.

It was around this time that we decided to buy some chicks. Surely the coop will be done before they're ready to move outside, right? Right? We got four little chicks in Half Moon Bay: two Brahmas and two Rhode Island Reds. Max thought they were pretty cool.

Shortly after buying the chickens, we took off on our trip to Yellowstone. Luckily, David Z was more than happy to chickensit for us. He became quite attached to the chicks and had a hard time giving them back to us!

David trained all four to jump up onto his shoulders

As you can see, the chickens were growing very fast. Finishing the coop became an urgent matter. We painted the fence white and attached the hardware cloth. I put up the plywood walls and roof on the hen house. Max thought that was pretty cool, too.

The coop wasn't complete, but it was livable, so we introduced the chickens to their new home. One third of the floor of the hen house is open for a ramp down to the run. Since the roof of the run still wasn't entirely covered, I put some plywood over that portion of the floor, trapping the chickens in the hen house for the time being.

On one side of the hen house I wanted those large double doors, so we could easily reach inside the house to clean it out or grab chickens. The other accessible side was for the nesting boxes. I took off that wall, cut a hole in it, and built a new wing on the house. It is divided into three nesting boxes and has a hinged roof for easy egg harvesting. Sophia had the brilliant idea of cutting the back wall of the nesting boxes in half and adding hinges to that wall as well. This makes it very easy to lift the lower half of the wall and clean out the boxes.

Everyone helped out painting the hen house. Sophia picked the color.

After the paint came the trim and the roof. I used a bunch of old redwood fence boards from a fence that I removed from our back yard a few years ago. Under the fence boards is conventional roofing paper. For the nesting box roof, we found some flexible roofing tape to go along the hinged edge. I think the whole thing is pretty water tight.

And that's how our coop remained for a good long time. There was one more thing I wanted to do before calling this project complete, however. Karen Z had brought over some old pickets that she picked up at an estate sale months ago. I finally got around to attaching them to the perimeter fence.

To paraphrase the late, great Roger Podacter: "Those damn chickens live better than we do."

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