Now that the chicken coop is completed and the pullets are in residence I thought it time to share a few photos and to briefly describe how the project came together. Building the coop proved to be a lot of fun but I was a little apprehensive at the outset.
I needn’t have been as it all went very smoothly and was finished in just two weeks. Thanks to those members of my family who held things level, square and in place and Roger our builder who dropped by to professionally install the roofing iron.
In writing this post my hope and intention is to encourage anyone who is thinking of building their own coop to “give it a go” as it’s really not that difficult.
However before you rush off with your skill-saw and hammer you may wish consider these points.
- How many chickens and what size coop ? … minimum standards are set out in the animal welfare code. Hens that have access to free range ( 10 birds per sq metre ) and those permanently housed ( 7 birds per sq metre ). Give your hens plenty of space and they will be happy, healthy and most importantly productive.
- Its a good idea to keep your hens well away from your house as they will mess on your decks, paths, lawns, anything and everything else. It’s just one of the joys of having chooks. Besides this, there is the smell and the inevitable flies especially during summer.
- Position your coop to avoid the prevailing winds whilst capturing the warmth of morning and afternoon sun. I intend to enclose the area underneath the floor of our coop to provide a cool space in summer where the hens can dust bathe and retreat from hawks and other predators. Trees with low level branches work equally well.
- Have a good sized entry/exit door for your hens. This needs to have a robust catch or lock to stop predators.
- Good ventilation is also important to ensure the well being and health of your flock. You may need to make provision for some or all of these areas to be closed off during bouts of extreme weather.
- As the photos below show, our coop has a large human size entrance door as well as a generous door at the back for the removal of old litter. Simply open the door and its all raked straight into a wheel barrow, what could be easier.
- Obviously if you have hens you will need some nesting boxes, one box for every four hens. Making these boxes removable will make life much easier when its time for house keeping or should that be “coop keeping”.
- I made both the feeder and waterer, however these are “cheep” to buy so it’s probably not worth the effort.
- One of the last tasks on my list was to set up a couple of perches. These should be fixed securely but removable for cleaning. I pushed a surplus piece of 6″ by 2″ timber through my bench saw at 5cm square and then again to remove the sharp corners.
- Depending on the contour of your site, ours slopes away, you may wish to install an access ramp to make it a little easier for “the girls”.
- I chose to put a corrugated iron roof on the coop as it means less maintenance but a ply roof or similar would suffice.
- Within a month or so I will complete a closed-in run which will further protect the hens and more importantly keep them out of my veggie patch.
- For long life and durability all timber and ply should be tanalised.
Concrete around the piles was left for few days to harden.
Floor area below is 2.8 sq metres which means we can increase the number of hens if we choose to. We are fortunate in having a large lifestyle section so the hens will have plenty of space to free range.
When drawing up the plans I decided on a large door as this makes for hassle free access when attending to the hens and when topping up feeders and waterers.
This door will make the job of cleaning out the coop a breeze.
Loosen these three nuts and the nesting boxes are off …
With the nesting boxes removed cleaning and refilling them with wood shavings is an easy 10 minute task.
We’re outta here … ramp also detaches and hangs on a hook at the back of the coop when it’s time to cut the grass.
Plenty of perching space.
We installed building paper under the corrugated iron to prevent the build up of condensation. Dry hens means happy hens and hopefully more eggs.
Our eight 12 week old shaver brown pullets enjoying their new coop, one seems to be camera shy.
If you’re thinking of getting your own hens and building or buying a coop I’d suggest purchasing this magazine as it covers all aspects of keeping hens. At only $19.99 its worth every cent.