We remodeled an old granary into a chicken coop nearly three years ago. To be honest, there’s not much that we would change or do differently. It has happily housed so many of our egg-laying friends that I thought I’d show you what we did, why we did it, and what we changed.
First, a ton of credit to BackYard Chickens, the website from which we gleaned hundreds of ideas and building plans. I can’t recommend them enough.
The Chicken Coop
The coop started out as a small 9×7′ granary. We re-tinned the roof and made plenty of windows and vents for adequate air flow.
Because Minnesota winters can have -40 degrees Fahrenheit windchill, we insulated it and used vapor barrier for added moisture protection.
We decided to use the deep litter method which means we cover the floor with wood chips. The poop and urine that do get on the floor is soaked into the chips. As the chickens scratch through the wood chips, they stir it up. This means we clean the coop out fully only twice a year — in the spring and in the fall.
At the same time we made two parallel roosting boards (with rounded edges to be easier on their feet) across the width of the coop. We also put a sheet of plywood underneath. Chickens usually ‘go’ when roosting, so this eliminates how much goes onto the floor. Every night we scrape the droppings off the board and throw them in the compost pile.
Initially we built a rollaway community nesting box directly underneath the resting boards, but the hens ended up laying eggs in corners and all over the floor. Since then we’ve build the ‘normal’ nesting boxes: 12×12 squares. And as you can see, these pictures were taken after then hens had been in the coop awhile. 😉
You can also see our feeder system (the white PVC pipes) in an above picture. These are filled via gravity as the hens eat.
This water stand is made of two 5-gallon buckets with waterer nipples on the bottom. There is a platform elevating the hens so that no matter how high the litter gets, they can reach the water comfortably. In the winter, we plug in two bird bath heaters and place them in the buckets to prevent the water from freezing.
The chicken nipples are an idea shared by BYC that I love. The water doesn’t drip, it stays clean, and if we’re gone for several days the water will last for at least a week (we add apple cider vinegar). When we’re home, we clean them out and give the chickens fresh water every few days.
Finally, we added a small lean-to on the side so the hens can go outside even in winter. This helps block snow drifts right in front of their little door, and they can still come out for fresh air and sunshine when they get cabin fever.
I hope this gives you ideas for your chicken coop project. 😉 You can see more pictures of our coop at Whole Intentions.
Tell us about your chicken coop! Feel free to share links or tips in the comments.
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