Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Our Chicken Coop

Joe, my wonderful, loving husband has indulged me in my desire to keep chickens.  Why would I want chickens?  Because they provide free eggs, duh!  And, they're cute as babies, fun to raise, develop very distinct personalities and are (surprise!) very trainable.

So he designed and built our chicken's quarters.  For a man who self-admitted "I'm no carpenter!"  I think he did a damn fine job.  I used to train animals at the San Diego Zoo so my standards for housing animals are kind of picky.

Here, for anyone interested in keeping chickens is our coop design.  I think we've managed to make it very easy to care for our little flock.  Ease of maintenance in all kinds of weather was paramount in our planning sessions.  It rains here in Seattle.  A lot.  No one wants to be out in a downpour, raking out the henhouse or filling the feeder.  We therefore opted to place the chicken's nighttime quarters and nestboxes inside our garage.

We have a detached, two car garage with a storage loft above.  The henhouse sits underneath the stairs, allowing us to still park both cars inside.  I have a short walk from the house to the garage that is only briefly unpleasant in the worst Washington weather.  I can feed, water and clean up my chickens dry and happy year round.  A shelf to the right holds two bales of pine shavings as well as their food.  Sleeping quarters are to the right and nest boxes to the left.  Four doors across the front give complete access, two more doors on the left side give access to the back of the nestboxes.  The trap door on top is screened to allow plenty of ventilation.  The feeder hangs from the top and the waterer sits on a paver for stability.  The blue tarp below holds pine shavings on a rolling shelf which can be pulled out for easy cleaning.  Shavings and droppings go into the compost pile.

The flooring is three wooden frames with heavy, plastic-coated chicken wire screwed to it.  All three sections lift out for spot cleaning.  The frames and wire are sturdy enough to support a 1 gallon waterer sitting on a large paving stone and have no trouble supporting all my hens.  Droppings fall through easily to the shavings tray below and so are kept well away from the girl's feet.  Two rows of perches to the right provide ample space for all.  Four nestboxes to the left is a little overkill for my small flock, but we had the space so figured, what the heck?  The feeder is supported by a chain and hangs from a cup-hook screwed into the supporting beam of the top.  The heat lamp cord is plugged into a protected outlet inside the henhouse and the cord is similarly protected by a sturdy wire-cover.  Not my first choice (I'd prefer all wires and outlets outside the henhouse) but it's perfectly safe and shows no sign of wear or damage after months of usage by my flock.  We have the option to cut a larger hole in the top and move the heat lamp up and out if the size of the flock should so dictate.

A door through the garage wall allows the girls access to an enclosed run.  More to follow in the next post as I learn the ins and outs of publishing on Blogger.  

Stay tuned.

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