The Chicken Coop Expansion of 2011

Alas, I unveil the Chicken Coop Expansion of 2011.  It is done. Done-ish. Mostly done. Kinda-sorta done.   Oh hell, there are a few more things to add when before we go into fall (or as I have come to think of it: The Beginning of Incessant Rain) but I’m done for now. Besides, it is really hard to think of fall when I’ve yet to spy a reddening tomato and just picked my first zucchini.  And am still picking spring peas.

Who knew we’d be working on a coop expansion for months (and months)?  The new girls have long been introduced.   Flocks Integration of 2011 is complete.  There was a rehoming. A death (RIP Lady Guitar II).   It seems like ages since I brought the new bunch of girls home.

grow and resist chicken coop expansion

In the beginning-2010. Pretty coop that is large enough for 4-5 hens.

grow and resist chicken coop expansion

The other side.

We knew the coop would need a level place to rest. Hopefully a place that we could rodent proof. We built a frame that is mostly level, lined it with hardware cloth around the perimeter and bricked it in.  A really ugly patio, if you will.

We quickly realized a few design flaws– one being access.  The only access was from the opposite end of coop, on top.  This meant climbing in coop to place food (ewww!) or the food being in an area that was more exposed.   My Dad and I installed a front door to make it easier to clean and hang food.  We didn’t seal or paint the wood so by the time I took this picture it had begun molding.  Given a few more weeks it might have sprouted ferns.

grow and resist chicken coop expansion

The coop as modified for 2010

grow and resist chicken coop expansion dominique pullet

"Wait! You said it was only big enough for 4-5 chickens! There are 10 of us! Whatcha gonna do? Huh?" Yes, Esmeralda is bossy that way.

Chickens need some space.   Sources vary, but common “rule” is 4 sq. feet per bird in the coop/sleeping quarters and 8 sq. feet per bird in an outdoor run.  Always with the added information that it is best to give them as much space as you can.   Clearly, we needed to modify.

The Chicken Coop

We decided the easiest way to do expand the coop was to add siding to the old-tractor style run, essentially turning the entire old coop/run into the new coop-only.  This consisted of adding a solid floor and another door (at the opposite end as the one my Dad and I previously made) and a replacement door for the moldy door.

The little chicks were nearly ready to go outside so the coop was modified first.

grow and resist chicken coop expansion

If you live in the northwest, your painting projects will be inside 10 months of the year.

grow and resist chicken coop expansion

If you are lucky, you will have a basement room that you can fume out with your indoor paint project.

grow and resist chicken coop expansion

Putting in supports for the new floor

grow and resist chicken coop expansion

The new floor covered with the most inexpensive linoleum I could find. Having linoleum on the floor makes cleaning the coop so much easier.

The Chicken Run

The coop is located in the sideyard of the house near to the semi-abandoned shit shack next door.  When we moved in we knew we weren’t going to landscape this area and had it fenced in as our dog area.  It is fairly large area – 2 sides of our house and about 12-15 feet wide.

The fence contained them until the younger pullets realized they could roost on the shortest fence section. And, they were not safe from predators. We wanted an enclosed run for their safety and for my sanity.  Our dog wouldn’t stop eating chicken poop and I couldn’t stop stepping in chicken poop. It was time to get going on the chicken run.

grow and resist chicken coop expansion

New paint job! New siding! Lots of random crap lying about! Cute kid carrying our favorite chicken (that is, sadly, now dead)! Cute dog fearing her unlimited access to chicken poop is coming to an end!

You can see we raised the coop up on blocks.  This makes the coop easier to clean and the chickens like to hang out under there sometimes too.

We ran out of money and time for a bit, so we used what we had on hand to put up temporary sides to the run.  Yes, it is ugly.  And, yes, we know the boards are all out of whack.  The ground slopes in multiple directions.  But was I going to level the ground? No, I think not.   It is still a damn coop after all.  And we are hoping the wisteria from the shed that is creeping that direction will hide some of those obvious height differences.

grow and resist chicken coop expansion

Don't judge. The siding was temporary.

But, we finally got the hardware cloth, re-did the fencing and finished the top sections.  We topped it temporarily with bird netting to keep the birds in and hopefully slow down any predators.   Straw on the ground.  And some happy birds!

We had begun to develop a pretty gross fly problem and another Seattle blogger, Lacy, mentioned using straw in her run.  Between that and the fly traps (which are disgustingly full), the fly problem has almost resolved!  Plus, the chickens seem to really like scratching around in the straw.

grow and resist chicken coop expansion

Check it out! Done!

Coming Up Next:

Roofing  A little design flaw in the original coop is that the top of the lower part leaks.   Hence the tarp piece over that section you can see in the picture above.   When the rain really gets going that end of the coop gets pretty wet inside.  Last year it was still part of the run, so I was able to manage it.  But not in a way I intend to again.

grow and resist chicken coop expansion

2010: The plexiglass I screwed on the top door cracked. The clear plastic I stapled kept coming off the top. So random things, like dog bowls, were used to weight it down.

We are going to add some corrugated roofing over the center section of the run to fully cover the coop.  We’ll likely do clear to give them as much light as possible because lack of light is such an issue in Seattle.   The new siding will keep windblown rain out and we’ll add plexiglass to the inside of the end doors.

Predator protection  Raccoons and possums live in the shit-shack next door.   I haven’t seen them in a while and luckily they haven’t ever gotten to our chickens.   We need to cover the run with wiring, instead of the bird netting, to protect them.

grow and resist chicken coop expansion

Lovely huh?

But for now:

grow and resist chicken coop expansion

A look at the other side.

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10 Responses to The Chicken Coop Expansion of 2011

  1. Gloria says:

    I love this. The linoleum made me shriek. This time last year chicken coops held no interest to me and now I’m studying your door furniture. I’m wanting to find the energy and finds to design a coop so we can offer a home to some exbattery chickens to join the other posh birds.

  2. Kate @ Snowflake Kitchen says:

    I love the sign :) I cant believe the town will let something like next door continue to exist.

  3. Every time I think “A couple of chickens… how hard can it be?” I’m coming back to read this post. :) Not that I don’t want chickens eventually; I just need to remember what I’m getting into!

  4. Inder says:

    Wow, the photo of the racoons peeking out from the shit-shack … it’s enough to give a chicken nightmares! (And maybe a human, too!) Sheesh. But I love the coop. The yellow is great.

  5. jess says:

    oh, the lengths we go to for our chickens. It looks great. I love the new paint job! But please, for the sake of my nightmares, tell me that scary raccoon photo is not real! I can’t believe they haven’t gotten your birds. The raccoons in my neighborhood are merciless beasts.

  6. Catherine says:

    Nice work. I dream of expanding one day but I squelch that idea until its time to clean the coop. :p Have you tried coarse sand? It’s especially great with our NW rains and it doesn’t pack down like straw.

  7. Yep, the raccoons are really that close. And, nope, the city hasn’t/won’t/can’t do anything. Eeeps.
    I haven’t tried course sand. Where do you use it Catherine?

  8. Steph F. says:

    The raccoon peeking its head out of the neighbor’s roof.. ew. Can’t a house like that be condemned?!

  9. Stacy says:

    Nice work, Meg! (Sorry I’m so behind in reading/commenting)

  10. Julia says:

    Love that coop. Love the color and the sign, especially but I need to go into more depth here because we are re-thinking our whole set up. Our barn is way the hell over on the other side of our three acres, so they are pretty helpless. I’ve got to get them up by the house. You are an inspiration!

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