The Chicken Coop…. just those words is like teeth grinding or the high pitched squeal/scream of a three year old that hurts your ears so bad your eyeballs feel like they shrivel and ear drums explode in repercussion.
It has almost taken us a month to get our chicken coop done, could have been done faster if it wasn’t for the fact it has literally rained every day since we started (expect one nice sunny day that I remember vividly). Most of the work has been Mr. Husband spending his weekends working hard on it. A 7 month pregnant lady is limited to the amount of lifting and things that can be accomplished. I have mostly been doing the painting, helping of measuring, or just general supervising. So really, I can’t take any credit for getting this monster built. I have to give my husband mad kudos, Atta boy, and props for building this huge and amazingly awesome chicken coop.
My initial plan for the coop was, I wanted the coop itself to be 6ft x 6ft, have 2 ft available under the coop, with a total length of 14 ft total for the run (including the 2 ft under the coop). Some people may think this is huge for a back yard chicken flock, I know Mr. Husband did. I wanted a nest box that had enough space for three separate nesting areas. I nest box door that flips down instead of up, so the kiddos can collect eggs. Have the coop/run be tall enough I could walk in. The coop made to support a deep litter system, with a door or flap that flips down that I can easily rake out litter. Vinyl flooring on the coop floor for easy cleaning. Two human doors that open up with windows in each. Good ventilation and windows. A hen door that can be opened by a pulley system. Oh and a roofing system that will eventually allow me to collect rain water from. Sounds like a huge laundry list of things that I want. So far, Mr. Husband has been able to deliver everyone of these and then some! “Happy wife, Happy life” right?!
Before I got the chickens, I did some research first on our city code and regulations for keeping chickens. Looked it up on the City Hall website, and called just to verify. It stated, “Animals in Residential Districts. 1.) A minimum setback of ten (10) feet from all property lines shall be required for all hutches and twenty (20) feet for all pens, coups, aviaries, similar enclosures, and free-range areas. 1.) No more than sixteen (16) poultry, birds or rabbits and similar mammals shall be permitted per acre.” The no more than 16 poultry per acre, was what was throwing me off, which is why I called to verify. We live in the suburbs and most houses in our area have on average, less than .25 acres. So I decided I wanted about 6 chickens.
Now, that I determined how many chickens I wanted, I needed to find out how much space does a chicken really need? Well this has different variables to consider. Like, will I have heavy breeds (Barred Rocks or Buff Orpingtons), or small/light breeds (bantams). So cramming a heavy breed in a 1 square foot area and expect them to be happy, isn’t ideal. (Let’s not get on the subject of living conditions of the chickens in the egg and meat industry) Some other things that need to be factored is, how much outside time will they get? Will I want room to add to my flock at some point?
Based off of multiple sources, it is suggested to have at least 4 square foot of floor space inside the coop per chicken, with at least 10 square foot room in the run per chicken. So, here comes the math… I wanted 6 chickens, 4 sq. ft. per chicken would be 24 sq. ft. total. for the run that would be 60 sq. ft. total. With my coop plans, I would have 36 sq. ft available for the coop and 84 sq. ft. for the run. Plenty of room if I got my 6 chickens. But I didn’t get just 6… shame on me! I initially got 10. I wanted to factor in mortality rate and rooster probability. As of date, 1 mortality and 1 rooster. So, I will be at a total of 8 chickens. With my design I don’t have room for flock growth. But then, I considered over time there would be at least a couple casualties to predators (we have raccoons, hawks, eagles, coyotes, cats and dogs). Cats have already shown to be a problem, as well as a few bald eagles. So with my 8 projected chickens I will need to have 32 sq ft in the coop and 80 sq. ft in the run. I just squeaked by. Isn’t planning ahead great! Hopefully, my space allocations will provide for some happy chickens. They will get to free range for a couple hours a day and pretty much all day on weekends during the summer. Winter time they might not get as much time to free range.
Next step in the planning process was how do I want it to look? I took inspiration from the Carolina Coops and the Whichita Cabin Coops. We really didn’t draw anything out, we just kind of went with my original plan and told Mr. Husband how I wanted it when he started to build that part of it. Maybe in the future we will put together a Coop tour and how-to, step by step. Mr. Husband doesn’t have much experience or a professional on building or constructing buildings, and this is his first really big project. But I have to say he has truly amazed me in his abilities and made my dreams/plans come true in more than one way. 😉