One of the first posts I put to this blog was our building of a chicken coop/run in our backyard. For the most part this was 90% complete, but needed just a touch more. The other items include a chicken coop door, adding some 1 inch decorative rock around the base of the run, both for aesthetics and also to discourage predators. The last was to get some perches installed for the hens.
For us, its more than just a building for chickens, it’s also a serious part of our backyard landscape.. so we treated it not only as a home for our chickens but also as a decorative element to accentuate our yard proper.
The chickens get something akin to a Taj Mahal and we get some bragging rights in our neighborhood. So far this has been about 5 full days work on my part split over 4 weekends. It seemed like a pretty heady task at first.. but taking it step by step and breaking it down into smaller tasks really made this more manageable.
So this weekend we got the chicken coop door installed.. whooopteedoooo, you may say.. but in this case what we added was an automated chicken coop door so we would not need to wake at the crack of dawn every morning to let our little monsters out! Its a pretty slick piece of kit that I purchased from www.AutomaticChickenCoopDoor.com. Followed their online installation video. It took me a few hours only because I made the last minute decision to add 2×4 supports to either side of the door (not required, but really makes it sturdy).
Altogether though this was a nice addition. It works off a timer that goes off twice a day, about an hour after sunrise and about a 1/2 hour after dusk. Right now I’ve got an extension cord that goes out to the breeder lamp and so I just added an additional outlet splitter and added in the door as well. Eventually though the plan will be to make this run completely via battery/solar. Thankfully the kit also includes directions on how to do just that.
The other item of note is that I decided to add a 1 inch rock around the periphery of the coop/run to add an aesthetic element, but also one that should help discourage potential digging predators. I’m still needing to finish that up with some landscape trim, but ran out of time due to the fact that the previous day we added about 10 tons of the same 1 inch rock to our Aquaponics Greenhouse build (more on that in an upcoming post). 😉 Simply put, I’m a bit beat 😦
All in all, a very productive weekend that got our 2 week chicks out of their little Rubbermade container and into the coop proper. As mentioned, final details like roosts and a ramp are yet to come, but the chicks are still young so I’ve got a few more weekends to get those knocked out.
This was our first foray into raising chickens. We’re bound and determined to make our urban farm work.
We were worried originally about the legal issues with raising the chickens. Our yard is slightly under the minimum square foot requirement, but the workaround is getting permission from your neighbors (which we got) and keeping the coop/run at least 80 linear feet from the nearest neighbor.. check! Figured the chatty Chihuahua’s in the neighborhood make more of a ruckus then the chickens will, specially since there’s not going to be a rooster. Local regulations differ, so check your area about local code regulations regarding raising fowl.
We decided to go to a local seminar on raising chickens and that really helped open our eyes! The eggs you see in stores are surprisingly so far removed from the farm to your dinner plate, its pretty incredible. I highly recommend finding such a seminar or possibly visiting a local farm (organic/free range) to better understand the dynamics of it all. The numerous breeds, the variations of eggs, etc. will leave you flabbergasted.
When planning on the coop, there were plenty of pre-built offerings available at the local feed stores. I made the decision to design our own by scouting ideas online via visual reference and taking cues from designs I liked. I then sketched up an idea and proceeded to build the coop/run. The color scheme comes from the wife, who has a good eye for color!
You can view the progression of the build in the following video we put together..
Ultimately we came down to getting ourselves 5 chickens in all (originally planned on 3). We got two Rhode Island Reds, two Cuckoo Morans, and 1 Ameraucana chick. Giving us brown, chocolate and blue/green eggs respectively. It was a fun learning experience!
You can see the new brood here..
We plan on growing some vines over the run to help shade and protect the chickens from flying predators as well as lay some stone around the periphery to discourage burrowing animals.