One of the fun things about having chickens is designing a coop for them. I could spend hours on the internet looking at different ideas for coops that people have come up with. There are some really nice ones out there. Getting a coop set up was our very first homesteading project. We were lucky and didn’t have to build anything because we used a shed that was already here, so all we had to do was drag it up closer to the house. My dad and grandpa had used it to store feed in for cattle. I didn’t get any before pictures but here is a picture of it once we got it finished:
We cut out a chicken door and added windows. The door folds up and latches for the times we have chicks that are too small to go outside. You can’t see real well from the picture, but the pen is enclosed with chicken wire. We added aluminum panels around the bottom so it would be strong enough to keep predators out.
The inside is insulated and lined with pressed wood. The roost is made from a 2X4 and hung with metal brackets. We found a cheap linoleum remnant that we stapled down to the floor to make it easier to clean. I usually use wood chips for the bedding but was running low on them, plus I was having a hard time with the wind blowing the chips away. This time I used straw and so far it’s working ok. The yellow box came off a planter, which we turned into a nesting box by setting it on the roost and screwing it to the wall. The box has holes in the bottom, but we found that putting a flake of hay in it for bedding works perfectly to cover them. We scored a whole stack of those boxes at an auction for a couple dollars, so we ended up with some really cheap nesting boxes. The chickens really like them, so that’s an added bonus.
The fall of the first year that we had chickens, we decided to move them to the barn because I felt the coop was a little small for them to all hang out in during snowy days. Our barn has 5 small rooms in it that at one time were used to store grain. We cleaned out 2 of them and made them into coops. It was nice to have them in the barn on the snowy days because I could let them out of the coops and they could run in the barn, which gave them more space while still being inside. They always have the option to free range, even when it’s snowing, but they prefer to stay in during bad weather.
We put linoleum down on the floor of both rooms, just like we did the coop. As you can see, we used more planter boxes as nesting boxes, but we just set them on the floor and screwed them to the wall. The one metal nesting box was my grandma’s that she used when she had chickens many years ago. We cleaned it up, patched some rusted out spots, and now it’s as good as new. Fixing up and using old things that my grandparents once used always add a special touch. 🙂
Each year we buy a few new chicks which we keep in the small coop throughout the summer. Most of them are the kids’ 4H project, so we like to keep them separate from the others until after the fair. Once fall gets here and the weather starts turning cold, we move them all down to the barn. The small coop sits empty until spring, when we start all over with new chicks.
What’s your coop like? Do you have any tips on setting up a coop?