My Chicken Coops: be dazzled by their beauty.
This is my chicken coop. I built it from a old wooden packing crate (shipping crate), one big off-cut of square wood post, and two road signs. (No road signs were stolen in making my Coops of Squalor. They were all legally acquired,and out-of-date signage (eg wood, not metal). I cut a hole in the side for their entrance, the ramp is a scrap of ugly wood with kindling nailed to it (they need it for grip). The road sign doors just sit alongside the wood, and are held in place by nails to stop them falling out. This means I can take the whole side off to clean it.
This is my husbands coop (we’re not competitive. Honest.) – he spent much more time and money on this, and it looks much cooler. Trouble is – its a pain in the backside to clean, as you have to lean right into it to get the straw out of the middle. NOT so much fun. He made the box himself, and it is on four legs to raise it off the ground. The back flap is hinged at the bottom, and he has used an old axe handle as the lever to hold it in place when it’s up.
Underneath are two nesting boxes – basically a funny old kitchen sliding cupboard thing, rip the doors off, straw in the bottom – I have put old clear corrogated plastic on top as an awning to protect the chickens from the rain.
The shed is one of those aluminium garden sheds you pay large amounts of money for, but can never move because it falls apart. We dragged this through (which is why you can see sunlight through the corners), Mr Man built shelves out of planks of wood, and supported them with large buckets. Tech. It works, they sleep in there when it’s cold, and lay under the shelves. We’ll rig up a second shelf level at some point, with a ramp.
Can you see the theme? Basically, if you have a box, put a waterproof lid on it, access to clean it, put straw in it, raise it up off the ground, add cheap-and-nasty ramp, and you’re done! You can go fancy, yes. But you don’t HAVE to. My chickens like to roost in trees, some sleep in the boxes, some don’t. They’ve been fine through some pretty nasty weather – when it snowed (which it almost never does here!) we would go out and grab them out of the trees, and put them in the boxes. If you have severely cold weather you will need to think about insulating, and possibly confining them to a coop plus run arrangement during the worst of the weather, so you don’t have to go tree climbing every night. For straw, barley straw is just about perfect, as you just throw the old stuff straight on the garden as manure/mulch. Mine prefer hay, but that can’t go on the garden unless you want to be mowing your garden in a few months time. Warning:chickens find the SNEAKIEST places to lay their eggs.
We don’t have many bigger predators here – dogs, cats, ferrets, rats – but mine are still fenced pretty well, though I let them free range for half of every day. Chicken fencing.. well, mine is ugly. See?