Alas, I unveil the Chicken Coop Expansion of 2011. It is done. Done-ish. Mostly done. Kinda-sorta done. Oh hell, there are a few more things to add when before we go into fall (or as I have come to think of it: The Beginning of Incessant Rain) but I’m done for now. Besides, it is really hard to think of fall when I’ve yet to spy a reddening tomato and just picked my first zucchini. And am still picking spring peas.
Who knew we’d be working on a coop expansion for months (and months)? The new girls have long been introduced. Flocks Integration of 2011 is complete. There was a rehoming. A death (RIP Lady Guitar II). It seems like ages since I brought the new bunch of girls home.
We knew the coop would need a level place to rest. Hopefully a place that we could rodent proof. We built a frame that is mostly level, lined it with hardware cloth around the perimeter and bricked it in. A really ugly patio, if you will.
We quickly realized a few design flaws– one being access. The only access was from the opposite end of coop, on top. This meant climbing in coop to place food (ewww!) or the food being in an area that was more exposed. My Dad and I installed a front door to make it easier to clean and hang food. We didn’t seal or paint the wood so by the time I took this picture it had begun molding. Given a few more weeks it might have sprouted ferns.
Chickens need some space. Sources vary, but common “rule” is 4 sq. feet per bird in the coop/sleeping quarters and 8 sq. feet per bird in an outdoor run. Always with the added information that it is best to give them as much space as you can. Clearly, we needed to modify.
The Chicken Coop
We decided the easiest way to do expand the coop was to add siding to the old-tractor style run, essentially turning the entire old coop/run into the new coop-only. This consisted of adding a solid floor and another door (at the opposite end as the one my Dad and I previously made) and a replacement door for the moldy door.
The little chicks were nearly ready to go outside so the coop was modified first.
The Chicken Run
The coop is located in the sideyard of the house near to the semi-abandoned shit shack next door. When we moved in we knew we weren’t going to landscape this area and had it fenced in as our dog area. It is fairly large area – 2 sides of our house and about 12-15 feet wide.
The fence contained them until the younger pullets realized they could roost on the shortest fence section. And, they were not safe from predators. We wanted an enclosed run for their safety and for my sanity. Our dog wouldn’t stop eating chicken poop and I couldn’t stop stepping in chicken poop. It was time to get going on the chicken run.
You can see we raised the coop up on blocks. This makes the coop easier to clean and the chickens like to hang out under there sometimes too.
We ran out of money and time for a bit, so we used what we had on hand to put up temporary sides to the run. Yes, it is ugly. And, yes, we know the boards are all out of whack. The ground slopes in multiple directions. But was I going to level the ground? No, I think not. It is still a damn coop after all. And we are hoping the wisteria from the shed that is creeping that direction will hide some of those obvious height differences.
But, we finally got the hardware cloth, re-did the fencing and finished the top sections. We topped it temporarily with bird netting to keep the birds in and hopefully slow down any predators. Straw on the ground. And some happy birds!
We had begun to develop a pretty gross fly problem and another Seattle blogger, Lacy, mentioned using straw in her run. Between that and the fly traps (which are disgustingly full), the fly problem has almost resolved! Plus, the chickens seem to really like scratching around in the straw.
Coming Up Next:
Roofing A little design flaw in the original coop is that the top of the lower part leaks. Hence the tarp piece over that section you can see in the picture above. When the rain really gets going that end of the coop gets pretty wet inside. Last year it was still part of the run, so I was able to manage it. But not in a way I intend to again.
We are going to add some corrugated roofing over the center section of the run to fully cover the coop. We’ll likely do clear to give them as much light as possible because lack of light is such an issue in Seattle. The new siding will keep windblown rain out and we’ll add plexiglass to the inside of the end doors.
Predator protection Raccoons and possums live in the shit-shack next door. I haven’t seen them in a while and luckily they haven’t ever gotten to our chickens. We need to cover the run with wiring, instead of the bird netting, to protect them.
But for now: