These last few weeks have been a little crazy. On this past Saturday we had about 30 people over for a graduation/promotion/celebration party for my husband. One of the big projects we wanted to get done before the party was to get the chickens out of the house (more pre-party projects in subsequent posts). As tempted as we were to open the door and toss them out (they were getting kind of loud!), we figured it would be better to give them a house of their own.
We got the final hardware on and chicken wire stapled up the morning before the party, and out they went! It took a few days of showing them what to do (to use the ramp to get in and out, to use the roosts for sleeping etc) before they really got it on their own. They've never been so happy to be chickens!
Noteworthy items shown above:
1.) Ventilation: chickens need lots of fresh air but not drafts of cold so we added a window in the door and a mesh area under their roosts which also allows the droppings to fall to the ground.
2.) Sliding door that opens via rope and pulley accessible from outside the coop.
3.) Nesting boxes with landing strip across the front. The roof of the boxes lifts up from the exterior for egg collection when the girls mature.
4.) sheltered area under the coop for food and water. This allows the girls more outdoor space without a larger footprint for the portable coop. Another benefit is that at night, chickens feel more secure when they're a few feet off the ground.
5.) Safety latches: racoons are pretty clever little buggers and can figure out many types of latches and bolts.
6.) Wheels! While it will be a little cumbersome until we can put some sort of extendable handle bars on, I can move the coop by myself. Which is a necessity for us as I will be the primary chicken-mover. Throughout the growing season they will get moved once or twice a week to a fresh spot on our property.
Here is a shot from their first day in the coop. Because they didn't have a mother to show them the works, the first few nights we lifted them by hand. Now, less than a week later, they each get up there on their own and snuggle in for the night.