This is part three – or four – of my ongoing narrative about building a chicken (and duck) coop to replace my Green Acres Special old coop, that is literally falling apart and which was never especially user-friendly.
The new coop is the beneficiary of these hard-learned lessons.
One of which is to ease access to the interior, so as to keep the coop clean. Chickens (and ducks even more so) are dirty birdies and you will have to deal with this, if you decide to raise them. It is important for their health as well as yours to keep where they live as clean as possible. One way to do that is to make it easy to clean – and the way I’ve chosen to do that is by having a pair of large, outward-opening barn-type doors that – when open – provide unfettered access to the coop’s interior. This will make it a breeze to simply sweep/rake out the inevitable poop.
Another lesson-learned is ease of access – to the eggs.
In my old coop, you had to enter the coop to get the eggs – as well as traverse the usually muddy chicken/duck yard – which is usually muddy because chickens and ducks are feathered locusts that will quickly denude any vegetation that might otherwise keep the ground from becoming a muddy mess.
This is why I positioned the new coop in such a way as to have the back wall facing the yard – where there is grass. On the back of this wall, the nest boxes will be built – with easy access provided by a lid you can raise to get at the eggs, without going into the coop, much less the muddy yard. This arrangement also has the virtue of being easier to clean, the boxes being readily accessible – and also of keeping the birds poop from descending directly/vertically to the floor of the coop – which will hopefully reduce the frequency of having to sweep/rake out the mess below.
I’m not yet certain what to do about the ducks. Whether to build nest boxes for them, too – or leave them free to bunk on the straw on the floor, which seems to be their preference. I intend to give them the option of outdoor quarters, which ducks seem to like – but which isn’t safe for them unless totally secure from night-time predators. Thus I will be building a securely mesh-wire fenced run, which all of the birds will be free to use at will. This has the additional advantage of letting you sleep in, if you want – since the birds will be able to let themselves out in the morning.
As you can see from the video, the coop is nearly completed now. The main things left to do are the nest boxes, the filling in/grading of the earth by the entrance (I intend to run a perimeter of concrete appx. 6 inches wide and deep below the door bottoms, for predator and weather security).
I’ll also be running wire (in conduit, buried in the ground, so as to not look Green Acres-ish) from the shed panel to the coop, where I’ll wire a couple of outlets and a light fixture. There will also be a set of windows on the side walls, to give the birds natural light during the day plus improve airflow. I like windows better than screens because the former, once closed, are more secure than screens. Anyone who has ever raised chickens (or other birds) will already know and be able to tell you just how determined and inventive raccoons and possums and other such poultry-murderers can be.
The last thing after these things will be the roof – which will be of tin and probably mostly handled by my roofer buddy, who knows how to put on a roof that doesn’t leak. My old Green Acres coop did – because I am not a roofer.
I am thinking seriously of a gutter/rain barrel water catch/storage system – to provide free and easy water to the birds. The water runs down the tin roof when it rains, into a gutter that sluices it into a rain barrel; the barrel is plumbed to feed water through PVC piping to the birds. All on auto-pilot once rigged and thereby relieving me of the need to haul water to the birds every other day. It seems like a smart idea, so I am going to give it a try.
There will also be a similar-in-concept feeder system, to keep the birds in pellets without my having to haul myself out of bed to fill their feeder – at least, not every day.
That’s it for now – but more to come, soon!
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The coop looks very nice. Not a hint of green acres to be seen. I’ll look forward to your updates. Curious as to how long before the ducks become a la orange. Ours didn’t last a season as I got so so tired of the copious amounts of ‘duck snot’ they left everywhere.
Nice coop Eric. Look similar to one I built years ago. You can do the roof yourself, just some corrugated roof and screw it down, pretty easy.
I though I was being smart with a chain link fence around it, then racoons got in through the top, lost a couple chickens. So I put chicken wire over the top, then no troubles until we had a very late spring one year and I guess the bears waking up didn’t have anything to eat. They used their weight to bend my fence like a pretzel, pealed back the chicken wire and ate all my chickens (about 10 at the time).
“but the bears only eat plants” haha, yeah right.
Your coop looks very efficient and practical, and very backyard chicken-ish. I may build something similar someday for guinea keets and chicks.
I had to look up the dates for my local chicken/bird/small animal swap and noticed it’s part of a national group with swaps all over the country, here’s the link:
Even if a person isn’t looking to get any livestock the swaps are a great way to meet people. The ones I go to are made up of mostly seemingly Freedomista type people. It really is a bit like going to a hot rod show, only – everything – is for sale or trade.
Can hear your rooster sounding off in the background, does he do that all day long?
Not all day; just whenever the mood hits him… but the coop is a fair distance from the house, so it’s not too loud and besides, I kinda like his exuberance!
Rain barrels are a nice hack for outbuilding water. I used a simple setup with a 5 gallon pail to catch rain off my outhouse so my guests and I can wash our hands outside rather than having to stink paw it back into the house. Be sure to install an easy to access screen or filter to keep large debris out and do everything you can to protect the water from light to discourage algae formation. Make it easy to bypass and empty the barrel during the big freeze.
Good stuff, Agua – thanks for the tips!