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Chicken Coop 2.0

The new chicken coop and garden.

The new chicken coop and garden.


After living with our starter coop for a little too long, I finally have a chicken coop that meets all of my, and the chickens’, needs.

I purchased some basic chicken coop plans online and asked my friend, who builds things for a living, to construct it for me. (Thanks, Andreas!) After discussing the design plans, we made some modifications to suit our needs better, such as adding the henhouse windows, the small, external chicken door, and the large, henhouse door that opens fully for cleaning purposes.

The main reason I decided to build a new chicken coop was because I wanted to be free from having to be awake every sunrise and at home every sunset. The new coop is completely predator proof so the hens can come and go from their henhouse to their enclosed yard at will. The human-sized door, external egg door, and automated watering system are just bonuses to the freedom and flexibility this coop offers, schedule-wise.

The old henhouse and yard. They've definitely upgraded.

The old henhouse and yard. They’ve definitely upgraded.

I sited the new coop in a spot in the yard where the swimming pool used to be. This was a good location because it was already level, in need of soil remediation, close to the shed that stores the hens’ food, and close to electricity if it’s needed in extremely cold weather. This spot also met the city ordinance requirement of being at least 50 feet from neighboring residences.

I oriented the coop itself north-south lengthwise in order to take advantage of the southern, summer winds. The henhouse is on the northern end of the coop to let the winter sun into the enclosed yard and, hopefully, act as a windbreak, protecting the hens from the cold, northern winter winds. I also plan on planting a couple of evergreen shrubs on the northern side of the coop to help protect the hens from the cold winds.

Yellow flags mark the site of the new coop.

Yellow flags mark the site of the new coop.

Here in Austin, keeping the hens cool is a much higher priority than keeping them warm in the winter and so I designed the coop with cooling in mind. The windows are on the north and south sides of the henhouse in order to channel the summer southern breeze through the henhouse, across the roosting perch. The ceiling of the coop is open hardware cloth to release heat. The trusses of the roof are spaced such that, when it gets cold, I can slide a piece of plywood between the metal roof and the hardware cloth ceiling of the henhouse, closing it in for winter.

An annual garden was placed right next to the coop, making it convenient to shovel the shavings out of the coop and into the garden for mulch and fertilizer. I can also easily let the chickens out to weed and till the garden prior to re-planting.

My favorite feature of this system though, has to be that the coop roof catches all of the chickens’ drinking water and dispenses it, on demand, via a a PVC and poultry nipple automatic watering system. The 125 gallon raintank fills in one, 3″ rain event and held more than enough water to keep my seven hens hydrated all summer long.

Welcome to my home.

Welcome to my home. Let me show you around.

The roof catches rainwater that is then piped into coop for the chickens' drinking water.  The windows are on the north and south sides to take advantage of prevailing breezes.

The roof catches rainwater that is then piped into the coop for the chickens’ drinking water. The windows are on the north and south sides to take advantage of prevailing breezes and keep the henhouse cool.

Hens drinking from the PVC, nipple watering system that is connecting to the rainwater tank.  The hanging feeder keeps the food clean and holds enough food for days.

Drinking from the watering system that is connected to the rainwater tank. The hanging feeder keeps the food clean and holds enough for about a week.

The Hen's entrance.  Entrance door closes and locks when necessary.

The hens’ entrance. Entrance door closes and locks when necessary.

Half of the henhouse opens for easier cleaning.  Shavings from the henhouse are swept onto the floor of the coop and then eventually shoveled into the garden.

Half of the henhouse opens for easier cleaning. Shavings from the henhouse are swept onto the floor of the coop and eventually shoveled into the garden.

The inside of the coop: Roosting perch, two nest bozes and the open-air ceiling.

The inside of the coop: Roosting perch, two nest boxes and the open-air ceiling.

The external door for collecting eggs.

External door for collecting eggs.

Plenty of perches, inside and out.

Plenty of perches, inside and out.

Passionflower <em>(Passiflora incarnata x cincinnata 'Incense')</em> planted at the base of the coop.  Will grow over the southern wall of the coop and catch the couple of inches of roof water that the gutter doesn't catch.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata x cincinnata ‘Incense’) planted at the base of the coop. It will grow up the southern wall of the coop, providing shade for the hens, medicinal yields for the people, pollen and nectar for the honeybees, and will catch the couple of inches of roof water that the gutter misses.

A big thanks to Bock for being such a great spokes-model for her new home. Totally unprompted.

Discussion (2 Comments)

  1. by Jacqueline Rosquita
    Reply

    This new coop is so impressive- in so many ways! Thoughtful design and a bitchen rainbow design! Way to go!

  2. by Jason Gerhardt
    Reply

    Very well written. Very well designed. Very good reasons! Permaculture design, creating site specific solutions to human sustenance, one person at a time.

    You rock, Marcia!

    Jason

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