Time to get a new coop for the chickens. The first one we bought came from the same people that sold us our first 4 chickens. As we’ve become more used to it, some shortcomings became apparent in its design.
We’ve also had a few red mite problems and it boils down to there being just too many places for the buggers to hide. Our version 1.0 coop is single wall shiplap and has just far too many crevasses. The birds weren’t happy. (Here’s what the Wiki has to say about these vampire mites – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dermanyssus_gallinae)
Coop 1.0 also had a couple of design issues
Failings of Coop 1.0
- Hard to clean – difficult to reach in through the small door
- Nest box was the same level as the perch – they would sometimes roost in the box – making it quite messy
- Rain would get in through the ill fitting nest box hatch
- Too small – we wanted a few more chickens
So a bit of research, a failure to find one that worked for us – and a redesign was decided on. Let’s call it Coop 2.0
First things first – what size should it be? We wanted happy chicks!
Living where we do, we have the threat of foxes and birds of prey so total free range was not an option. We lost one of our earlier birds from a wily gosshawk that managed to get through a gap in the roof netting on our first run! What a mess! Feathers everywhere!
Welfare organisations recommend the floor space per medium sized hybrid birds to be a minimum 90 square cm (not including egg box) and the length of the perch to allow 30cm roosting space per medium size chicken. The perch needs to be solid but small enough for the birds to wrap their claws around so make sure the perch has rounded corners.
There should be 1 egg box per 4 birds with a minimum of 2 boxes.
Now for the outside run – some organisations recommend 1 square meter per bird, although 2 square meters is preferable. Basically the bigger the plot you can give them the better. The chicks need enough space so that they can flap their wings.
- Exterior grade plywood 2400mm x 1200mm for the interior walls, floors and ceiling
- 75mm posts
- Shiplap for cladding the exterior
- Metal sheeting for the roof
- Assorted hinges
Design features of Coop 2.0
- Flat surfaces with as few crevasses as possible
- Large doors for ease of access
- Off the ground so can lean in easily to clean – also the underneath provides the birds shelter from the rain
- Perch higher than nesting boxes
- Fox proof the coop and enclosure
- Bird proof – learning from our past experience & a tale from a neighbouring farmer that he’d seen birds of prey pecking through nylon netting to make a hole – we used chicken wire.
- Wood chippings in the run to minimise mud and keep the coop clean
- Lots of tree branches and logs for interest and outside perches
Don’t get me wrong – this didn’t mean the end of red mites – where there are chickens, there will be mites usually prevalent between April & October but I’d like to think we’ve minimised them.
We do a weekly disinfect which is a pain as we have to keep the chickens out of the coop. We use Total Mite Kill liquid to to wash out the entire coop and once dry dust perches and flat surfaces with Total Mite Kill powder. It’s hard to get this stuff into crevices.
As the mild weather continues, you know what we’ll be doing this weekend!
We kept the old coop for occasional use – as a quarantine / nursery coop for introducing new chickens
One essential piece of equipment for us is an automatic door opener / closer – otherwise you’d best set alarms for dusk and dawn!
Chickens pretty much look after themselves – and the eggs taste great.