Tag Archives: chicken coop

New coop for the Silkies

The chickens really come out of the woodwork whenever there’s woodworking.  They always have.  All up in the middle of the jobsite, every time.  They don’t turn out with such interest for, say, shoveling gravel.

I finally finished the coop I imagined.  I started it a few weeks ago, it seems, and I don’t know why I always think Enh, this’ll take a couple of hours.  It takes ages!  It takes, like, 6 hours.  And there’s still more to tune up.  You think it’s a box, but no, there’s a hinged lid to work out, the ramp, floor mesh; there’s indoor partitions and perches and latches and hardware cloth all over.  It takes time.  So it did not get done, not even close, on the day I thought I was going to “just build a coop after supper”.  But it’s done now.

Here come the Silkies now to have a look

And I had lots of company doing it.  They have no grasp, I’m sure, of the risk of falling boards/screws/tools.  They just sit.  Don’t mind the noise either.  Dozing through hammering.  I have to step over them to work. They just have to have the front row seats when the wood and tools come out.Yeah.  I could live here. Traction control needs improvement though.

I designed this one differently, with a few features thought up from observation: roof sheds water away from, not into their run (duh); ramp folds into the wall, not the bottom of the coop; there’s a wall to turn the corner around when they come inside so it’s darker in sleep area; coop lower to the ground, smaller, and nest boxes still at opening side; Typar, less drafty;  perches precisely the same height so there’s no competition over who’s the more elevated rooster; egg laying stalls with tall walls to keep out the light, and the birds can go around the corner and not be seen from the doorway.  More privacy, in other words. I think they’ll like it.  I thought a lot about it.Easier to see floor plan with the hay in.

I’m intending wheels on the light end, to be able to tractor it around.   Handles on the coop end, likely, although now it’s the right height for grabbing the edge.

Well, late at night I pulled all the approved Silkies out of the crowded big coop (they decided they lived there, not me), and popped them into their new digs.  Exciting!

It’s still crowded; the whole Silkie flock in a smaller coop.  I originally planned to make two coops the same, and separate the flock into the sets of hens and roosters I want to have mating.  But then the reality of how long it takes to build one set in, and I revised my expectations.  Because other things are pressing more than manipulating chicken sexual access.  For now, the “good Silkies” – all the hens, and the few roos that get along and respect the Colonel – are going in, and the roosters that disturb the shit and harass are out.  Not wanted on the voyage.  Just to give everyone more peace.

The rowdy roosters happen to be improving.  They have discovered dirt bathing, close on the heels of food clucking.  They may redeem themselves yet.  But for the foreseeable future, no girls for them!


Coop Management


In addition to the chicken making mulch cycle, I have a coop bedding strategy that works really well for me, and takes next to no time.  The birds are in a pretty small coop, and they sleep all clustered together, so the night’s prodigious pooping gets concentrated.
The birds like to perch to sleep on the edge of the nesting boxes, and depending on which way they point, they might poop in the box.  They avoid laying in the dirty boxes, but rarely foul more than one a night.


Every day when I collect eggs I toss any poop or soiled nest box bedding onto the main floor, and that tends to cover the night’s mess.  If they get low I put in a couple handfuls of new grass, ripped from the ground nearby.  Easy.  Clean feet means clean eggs, so it’s important to keep the coop well-tended so the birds aren’t wading through their own poop on the way to the box.

Every few days, I cut down some of the tall field weeds (a few seconds with the scythe), and pile it in on the floor of the coop into a soft, clean, green springy bed.  It smells wonderful, especially if I get a stray sprig of mint.  Any handfuls of finer stuff will top up the nest boxes.

The bedding weeds dry out and shrivel up, becoming a poop and carbon lasagna.

Periodically, like once a month, I take out the whole black composting floor mat and take it to the garden in the wheelbarrow.  It’s so mat-like I can practically roll it up.  Anything remaining falls through the mesh that forms the floor of the coop.  I add a layer of fresh green weeds and begin again.

To recap, I put clean grass into the nest boxes and  throw dirty nest box grass onto the floor of the coop, covering the daily poop.  Every week I put a serious thick layer of fresh weeds that really spruces it up in there.  Monthly I remove the composting result to the garden.

clean Silkie coop
clean Silkie coop

I’m not sure what we’ll keep it going with in the winter.  Perhaps I’ll just scythe down half the field before the snow flies.  True deep bedding method means allowing the bedding to compost for months and shovelling it out in the spring.  The bedding generates heat through decomposition, which is not a summer concern.  My adaptation is just a super easy way of keeping the coop clean.

Shady chickens


We moved the little chickens into the treeline.  Now they are always the “little chickens”, because they are.  We are still looking and hoping for big chickens.


They are still in the first, big coop, but we moved them to the edge of the field to give them more shade.  It’s working.  They are spending more of the day outside.


Immediately, they started ranging farther from the coop.  It was funny for me to walk down the path towards them with some scraps and see the rooster striding purposefully up the path towards me, before he saw me and beat a retreat.

I see you in there

Now we are done with the garden so we don’t have their entertainment there.


They must be hot in their fluffy fur coats. And hats. And sweatpants.


Chicken condos!


The girls are almost due to start popping out eggs, so it was time to give them boxes.  I was quite happy to repurpose a decrepit pile of assorted drawers, feed boxes, and hutches, formerly used for a rabbit raising op.  Chickens aren’t fussy, and what the assortment of boxes lack in beauty they make up for in saving time.

We just tacked them back together where they were falling apart and tacked them to the walls however they would fit, and presto, chicken condos!

Also a deluxe new pole near the ceiling for them to roost on, since they crowd together every night, teetering on the highest point of the branch.  I think height on the branch equals status.

Time to start laying, ladies!

Jungle gym for chickens

Rearranged the henhouse interior and made some big high perches for them.  They all (except for the smallest one, who’s gonna get called Teensy, and remains hilariously all legs, like a plover) look like real chickens now, plush with feathers and their final colours.  They’ve been roosting together like hens on the edge of the boards and more surprisingly, flopped out on the grass, so perhaps they’ll move up a level now.

I wish they liked me more; they flee enthusiastically every time I rattle the door, but then, I tell myself they’re extra twitchy because of the bear.  Twice, a bear has gone in the coop (opened the door) and stolen a bag of food.  No chicks killed.  Twice.  Twice is a bit embarrassing, and the second theft was in the middle of the afternoon.  I was very surprised at that.

Needless to say, reinforcements to the door did not aesthetically improve the chicken coop. Continue reading Jungle gym for chickens

There are four chicks in this picture. One is doing a burrowing/dust bath/camofluage thing. Can you find him?

They’re loving their playpen. Really, they seem like a bunch of exceedingly happy chickens.

They’ve trampled the long grass flat, mostly, although they still get snagged and tripped up in it and fall over. That’s funny.

They all run outside when I open the hatch in the morning, and they crowd back in the hen door when I approach them. Except this morning, when I strolled up for a look and two of them promptly slipped through the fence like water to get away from me.

That’s a problem.

Luckily, it’s very important to chickens to be with the other chickens, so the teensy one immediately slid back in, but the other one had more trouble doing that, trying gap after gap before he found one that he could fit through. That smallest chicken is a spitfire, always in the forefront and thick of things. I’m gonna have to name them soon.

I’ve added some panels of smaller gauge wire to the lower feet of the fence, defying what seemed impossible and further increasing the utter charmlessness of the whole structure.