Somehow we ended up with chickens, not a lot of them but enough (9). Through a series of incidents, we were down to 7. Then someone got the idea to get more. I am not opposed, since they really aren’t our chickens per se, and they do provide eggs which are much better than what you can get in the store.
When they first arrived from our friends, we had purchased two coops (kits) from CostCo, they weren’t cheap except for the actual construction. We expected more from a unit bought from CostCo. I guess CostCo thought so as well since they stopped carrying them after dropping the price to get rid of them. We spliced the two coops together and they worked well for about a month, then started to fall apart. They are also small. The claim was they each were for up to six chickens. I am not sure what types of chickens they were making that claim for, but it wasn’t for regular sized chickens, maybe for some extra small bantams or chicks. The runs were also tiny. So, when seven more chicks showed up at the house, something had to be done.
First, you cannot introduce new chickens with no protection for the new chickens without the possibility of losing a few. So, to ‘socialize’ the new chickens a enclosure had to be made for them to grow to the size and age where they could be introduced into the population. Then a larger more sturdy coop needed to be constructed. Talk about a big job. My wife set about designing the new coop. Raised off the ground about 18″ on blocks and 8 ft x 10 ft with 3 doors for humans to access for cleaning and such.
I made the comment that it was overbuilt for a coop. We got as far as framing, sheathing the walls, priming the walls with paint, and coating the floor with an elastomer that the weather turned nasty (60+ MPH winds) and rain. So we tarped it and hoped for the best. Well, it didn’t move. She did a good job on the design, of course it didn’t have any of the doors mounted so that helped with the wind loading.
My wife did a lot of research on coop design. One of the issues we are having is that we have one chicken that pecks her eggs after laying, destroying the egg. So in the new nest boxes she has designed a angled bed that will allow the eggs to roll out to an enclosed area where the chickens cannot reach. There are now six nest boxes instead of just four like the old coop. The chickens will only use two of the nest boxes in the old coop after the bottoms fell out of two of the nest boxes on one side. They don’t trust those boxes anymore, who said chickens were stupid.
Additionally, she designed a way to close the nest boxes at night so that the chickens don’t try to roost in them at night. During the day when open it gives the chickens an easy way to enter and exit the nest boxes without having to balance on the edge of the nest boxes.
My wife also wanted doors for the chickens to enter and exit that slid up and down versus being hinged. The sliding door gives a bit more protection from critters and say our dogs as it will not give as easily to pressure. It also reduces the need for a latch as needed on a hinged type of door. So, I have framed up one door using metal, it slides easily although the door needs a bit more weight to make it slide down the way it should. This design also allows for automation of the doors later on so they can open and close on a schedule automatically. Trust me, letting the chickens out at around sunrise and closing them up after dusk gets old quick.
The new run for the chickens is also much larger 10ft x 20 ft. I had a frame from a covered area that I used to have my MGB in for working on it. As the sun destroyed the vinyl side and roof, I thought it would be good to re-purpose the frame for a run.
We did have an exciting moment the other day when bees choose the coop for a new home. At first it was only a few, and I smoked them out. Then the queen arrived. I didn’t take any pictures for safety reasons. The swarm was several hundred bees in size (at least). We had covered the rafters with a tarp due to rain, so the swarm was in the shade. I tried to smoke out the swarm again with no effect. Then I had a thought. Bees in this area of the country will not build a hive in an area where there is direct sunlight, The heat is too much. So I carefully removed the tarp from the rafters. After waiting about 30 minutes for the sun to make its way across the sky it finally got to the edge of the swarm. About a minute later there was a loud buzzing as the whole swarm took flight and left the property. Saved me about $150 to have to have them removed by a professional. Around this area you have to assume that the bees are Africanized bees, and while their sting isn’t any worse than that of a regular bee, they attack in large numbers which can be fatal, or just really painful.
We still have more to do, this is the build that will never end. I am not the project manager on this one though, which makes my wife sad since that is what I do for a living.