The Chickens Love Their Coop
It’s been awhile since we first posted that we were building our chicken coop, check out that post here, so I wanted to check in and give y’all an update on how it turned out! Our chickens will be a year old at the end of April 2018, and we finished building their coop last summer. There are still a couple finishing touches we have been procrastinating, like touch up paint, and the storage closet doors, but the area where the chickens live is finished and they love it! We also found out that our chicken, “Oreo” was a rooster, and wasn’t very nice to us so we rehomed him, then added two more chickens, for a total of 12! Later we found out that “Lavender” is also a rooster, but he is a sweet rooster that doesn’t crow! We love him!
Tips & Tricks
I wanted to share with y’all the little ideas we added and how they have been working out for us, what we might change if we could, and what we really recommend!
- Industrial Hemp! We cannot recommend this highly enough! We use this inside our coop as bedding, and it is so absorbant, contains the smell, and we haven’t touched it since we added it last June/July. You simply put a deep layer of it in the bottom of the coop floor, I would say 4-6 inches. And maybe every once in awhile add a top layer, or mix it up a bit, we did that after maybe 6 months but really didn’t need to. Using this stuff our COOP DOES NOT SMELL! We order ours from Hemp Solutions and got the 10lb bag, and according to reviews, and their advice, we probably don’t need to change out the bedding for up to 2 years!!!!!!! That is unheard of to most chicken owners who normally use pine shavings and have to clean out their coops monthly! I promise you this stuff works and will save you time, $, and your nose!
- Ventilation Doors! We originally saw this idea from Carolina Coops, who is one of the industry leaders in beautiful yet functional chicken coops! But being the DIY’ers we are, we wanted to build our own coop, so we incorporated the idea into our plans. In a nut shell, you are providing your chickens with a screen door, so the coop has air flow. Which is essential for the smell and the heat and humidity of the summer. Then when it comes winter time, you have a second door that slides into place covering that screen door to protect the chickens from the cold and drafts. Now you never want to completely cut off ventilation in a coop! VERY IMPORTANT to still have some overhead holes or something to aid in circulation. These doors just add extra ventilation when its needed most, and also gives the chickens a nice breeze to cool off while in the coop, making for happy chickens!
- Black Hardware Cloth! For our chicken run, we decided to spend a little extra on black hardware cloth for the enclosure. Most people assume you would just use chicken wire, WRONG! Chicken wire only helps to keep chickens contained, but not protecting them from predators. Chicken wire can easily be bit into by even a mouse, so please don’t ever use that! Hardware cloth is the preferred, stronger, wire mesh that is predator proof. However, it normally is bought in a nonprotected metal finish. This over time will rust on you and will have to be replaced. We decided to go with the more expensive black pvc protected hardware cloth. This will last us a lifetime, and also is black in color similar to a porch screen and therefore is more “invisible” making it easier on the eyes to see your chickies!
- Rain Barrel Watering System! We have loved using a rain barrel for our watering system! We made a PVC nipple system that is attached to a hose that connects to a rain barrel, that fills naturally from gutters we attached to the chicken coop. Totally self sufficient! We have had the barrel low on water one time in the last 9 months, and it literally rained the next day. So we have never had to fill it. The only issue we had this winter was when it froze solid, so we had to supplement warm water for them. Next winter we may somehow incorporate a water heater, but haven’t looked into that just yet! The chickens learned very quickly how to use the nipples and its funny to watch too!
- Chicken Coop Tailgate! This was another idea we adopted from Carolina Coops which is pretty genius! A lot of folks have heard of the “deep litter method” for their farm animals which is mainly used in the winter time. The concept is simple, you keep building up the “litter” aka bedding, instead of replacing it, which causes its own bacteria to start breaking down the bottom material, essentially composting it, which can add warmth, but also mask the smell as long as you add enough new dry material to balance out the wet waste material. So if you use this method, which we personally use year round for our chickens as you saw above with our 4-6 inches of industrial hemp bedding, it would then make it difficult to open your coop doors without bedding falling out! So queue the tailgate! The tailgate is a third door on a hinge located on the bottom, where you can open it when you are ready to clean out your coop. You would keep closed the rest of the time to keep your bedding from falling out! All we plan to do is pull up a wheel barrel, and scrape the bedding in, shut it, and add new bedding. Easy Peasy!
- The Chicken Ramp! The only regret we do have, which we will easily fix, is painting the chicken ramp white! We had heard that is always the dirtiest part of the coop, and they weren’t lying! We plan to use the same black water proofing sealant paint we used on the coop floor, on the ramp, at some point so it can be more easily cleaned, and look less dirty!
We do have a couple things we still want to add to our coop this year. One being a cupola! We would love to add a ventilation cupola to the roof of our chicken coop, and add an antique copper weather vane my mom gifted to us! I think it will add some flair and be a cute touch! We also would like to finish the doors to the storage closet on the back side, as well as some paint touch-ups. Lastly, we would like to add solar lighting to our coop! We already have an antique chandelier that’s hung in the coop, we just need it to light up! We even have a copper light hanging inside the coop that we would also like to work as well. I would love to look out the window and see it lit up at night!
Well, that wraps up our chicken coop reveal! I hope y’all love it as much as we do, and if you have or plan to get chickens, hopefully, you got some great ideas! Mahalo!