Well, you might have seen my Facebook posts about the Big Spring Cleaning and minor Coop Renovations that have been happening over here lately. I thought I’d show you how our coop has changed over the last year.
Building this coop was an experiment in extreme budget coop construction. I am blessed to have my wonderful Mr. Fix It, who is so good at taking my rough ideas and making them a working reality.
First I found a man selling huge wooden shipping crates on Craigslist. They were 5×7 and 7 feet tall, and I immediately thought “There should be a way to turn that into a chicken coop!” I started drawing, and this is what I came up with.
We bought 4 of those crates for a total of $100 and started putting them together. As you can see from my drawing, the dotted lines are sides of boxes that we left out, so we had those walls to use as extra lumber for building out the nest boxes and brooder area. Of course, the minute I knew we were building this huge coop, I started figuring out who was going to live in it, and I bought some chicks in hopes that the coop would be together before they grew out of their brooder. Because we were in a hurry to get done, and trying to do it all as cheaply as possible, we cut a few of the corners I’d originally planned on. We didn’t paint inside the coop except for the floor (trying to protect it a bit). We didn’t initially complete the brooder area, and for almost a year this was just a storage shed for feed and tools. We fenced the run in, but rather than covering it, we strung twine across the top to try to deter hawks. Despite our cut corners, the chicks were outgrowing every area we had to keep them in and there was still no roof on the coop. We covered the top with plastic and moved them in anyway.
We got the roof put on at last and then got the run covered the way I’d hoped.
Finally we got to work in that brooder area, and finished it up just days before our most recent chicks hatched.
That brings us up to this Big Spring Cleaning. We moved our 8 hens to the chicken tractor and got to work. We raked out the run and planted grass. We scrubbed all the feeders and waterers. We swept the coop clean and then used the power washer to blast away all the “chicken dirt”. I sprayed down every inch with Oxine, which kills germs like bleach, but is specially formulated by a company here in Oklahoma for poultry houses. I painted the walls white, and the roosts and nest boxes red, along with a fresh coat on the coop floor. We knew that when these chicks are grown, we’d need more roost area, and I wanted some low roosts for them to use now, so Mr. Fix It came up with a removable ladder style roost. I covered the nest boxes with feed sacks to keep the chicks from sleeping there. We’ll uncover them when they are close to laying age and have established the habit of sleeping on the roosts.
So the chicks were able to move into their big coop on their 3 week “birthday”. They are thoroughly enjoying the extra space. And I enjoy bringing a lawn chair in to sit and visit with them. And I’m already planning the upgrades I will be making throughout this year, and next year at Big Spring Cleaning time. I’m thinking cute signs and maybe some hanging planters to “girl up” the outside. Some framed feed sack pictures and maybe nest box curtains to “girl up” the inside. Maybe I’ll paint the ceiling too. I want some sort of less dirty option for the feeder and waterer area (gravel or concrete “floor”? Hang the feeders/waterers? Switch to a nipple style watering system?). Maybe some of these neat “grazing frames” for those days when they can’t get out to free range.
Do you have any other ideas for me? I love interesting coop ideas!