This is my first coop circa 2005. It was a structure on the property when we bought it – apparently the previous owners won it in a draw and used it as a playhouse, and then a sauna.
The building was 5’x7′ with a full concrete foundation, a wooden ceiling with a trapdoor up to a small loft (& judging from the porn I found upstairs I know what their teenaged son was using it for).
The summer after we moved in I converted it into a coop. Friends from Victoria had made the nest boxes at home and came with tools and supplies for a weekend visit. They made a pop door, modified the 3 windows so they opened and were protected by predator wire, and removed the wood from the ceiling so the beams were exposed bringing in more light and giving the birds a place to roost. It was plywood on the outside and shiplap on the inside so it was warm and dry throughout the winter.
As new chicken keepers we installed the nest boxes too high and they never really used them.
Unfortunately some of my early photos were lost when a previous computer bit the dust. Here are some before and after photos of the coop which I used for two years.
My first birds were Silver Grey Dorkings, Welsummers and Easter Eggers. They had a 400sq ft pen surrounding the coop, but they were mostly free ranging. Two were killed by hawks and my neighbours’ dog had a go at a couple as well (they survived).
Even though we live on acreage their free-ranging was a bit of an issue – they loved hanging out and pooping on the front porch, laying eggs in the woods and then they discovered the neighbours’ garden. I re-homed my birds and took a break for a couple of years, but decided to start anew with a different set up.
The old coop has since been renovated and added on to and is being used as an art studio by my partner. Our builder added a chicken tile on the front door as a nod to its previous life. You’ll notice we moved the door from the front to one side, added an overhang and extended the back with a shed roof.
Our builder added a chicken tile on the front door as a nod to its previous life.
Our first coop has been largely predator-proof but it isn’t without its mistakes! We mounted our nesting boxes about three ft. above the floor and as a result, the chickens largely roost in them, not lay in them and so mess them up badly. And, my husband hinged the door so that it opens into the coop not outwards. Every morning there’s quite the scramble at the door when it’s time to be let out and smaller birds get run over. We also mounted a sort of ‘stairway’ of roosting steps in one corner. Some of the birds (chickens and ducks) lay their eggs over in the corner, under the steps, so I have to get on my hands and knees to reach in for the eggs!
The next coop you build will incorporate all of the things you like about your current one and all the things you’d like to change. I have two coops now so I’ve worked out some, but not all, of the kinks.
Sounds you started out a lot like I am now. I am retired, hubby retires in 519 days…not that we are counting! We have an excellent house sitter who is really good with critters. My hubby is quite handy and we will probably build our coop so I love the height input. We live on just over 3/4 acre but behind us is several hundred acres of BLM land which is unimproved but has its fair share of predators so yes we will need to lock up tight at night. Will send along pics as we decide on a design if that is okay.
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Sure, I’d be happy to help out with any ideas and tips I’ve got. Good luck.