Monday, March 7, 2011

Redesigning our old coop

I'm joining in on the homestead barn hop today to share the plans we've been working on for our chicken coop. The last week has been mostly warm and sunny during the day, although we did get about 4-6" of new fluffy snow that melted quickly from the south facing slopes. I've written about the coop before, here, so I won't go into detail about its history with us, but I will share what we have planned for its future!

One sunny afternoon last week my husband cut down the 2 dead willows that were standing beside the coop, and cut the nicely dried trunk up for firewood. When I got home from work one day to find Little M supervising from the porch as my husband cleaned up the last of the trunk, I was motivated to grab my tape measure and head on over to the coop.
He still has some work to do out there once the snow melts to clean up all the dead branches and sticks, but in the meantime the dogs have been enjoying chasing each other around and playing with the sticks. Remi (ever the bird dog) loved keeping an eye on what I was doing in the coop.
That was the first of several trips back and forth this past week from the house to the coop. Since my husband really enjoyed having the pheasants for the past 2 years, we decided this fall to split the coop into 2 areas - one for chickens, and one for pheasants. Initially I was worried that the coop wasn't big enough for both, but after my first measurements put the coop at just over 50 square feet, I wasn't worried any more. To make my life easier, I decided to have a little entry area as well so I didn't have to worry about the birds getting out when I went to water or feed them, and so there was a space for storing their food and other associated items. The coop is filthy and really needs some TLC; my husband still needs to clean it out from the past 2 summers of pheasants before I will start doing any building in there, and there are several wall roosts that he constructed for pigeons when he had some of them housed in there last spring that will have to come down.
I've got my chick order ready, but we still haven't decided whether we want them soon or after our late spring family vacation (so that we don't have to have a house-sitter while we are gone). I have a list of several breeds, totaling 25 chicks so that they don't get too cold en route.  I know I won't be keeping 25 laying chickens, and in fact several of the breeds I will order as straight run, even though we aren't interested in any roosters (my late-shift-working husband said he doesn't want to be woken up at dawn, thanks very much!). We plan to use some of the chickens as meat chickens, which is why I am mostly ordering breeds that are good for meat and laying.

What I've read suggests that chickens need about 1 square foot each, so if I managed to have a chicken area that was about 20-25 sf there would be enough room for the 25 meat & laying chickens during the summertime when they will be able to go outdoors, and plenty of room in the wintertime when I will drop down to about a dozen laying hens. I expect in the summer the birds will spend a lot of their time outside in their fully enclosed run (more details to come on the outdoor space!).

I won't bore you with all the measurements and lumber amounts, but here is a pic I took of the finalized plan I worked out this past weekend in my trusty notebook to give you an idea of what things are shaping up like. I've got separate sheets with the new wall dimensions worked out as well so I know how much wood & chicken wire mesh I need, but I still have to work out the laying boxes and exit door & ramp for the chickens.


  1. Great plans- and looks like the coop as tons of potential. It's so exciting when you can finally see the goals become reality! Thanks for sharing this at the HOmestead Barn Hop!

  2. How fun, new chicks! We're actually not raising any this year, as we don't need any extras, but I honestly don't think spring will be the same without little peeps in the brooder. We ordered our last flock in late spring last year, and although our weather here is great most of the year, I was glad we waited. I read of a number of folks last spring who lost their chicks due to weather related airport delays en route. I'd be tempted to wait until after your vacation, just to minimize that risk. Can't wait to see your new arrivals though!

  3. That is a great coop and really roomy too. There is nothing cuter than a baby chick. This year we went with 8 week olds but we did get a rooster and hope to hatch some of our eggs :)


  4. Thanks for the nice comments! Good idea to wait for the weather to be nicer before ordering our chicks :)


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