We are almost with the new design. We have researched and had input from others about what they would do different for their own coops. This extra time of planning has saved on wasting time working and then having to redo it.
This is the view of the coop from inside the garden. The double doors open to the nest box, so we can collect eggs while working in the garden. The entrance to the coop is on the right and outside the garden. After working on the coop on a sunny day, we decided to open up more of the very top space for screened ventilation and insulated the roof with old doors, under the corrugated roof.
The entrance to the new coop, resides on the outer side of our garden, there by maximizing gardening square footage. This coop is designed so we can walk right in and clean while standing, which we didn't have in the last coop. This should help my back from getting sore as I no longer will have to crawl and shimmy to clean it. Most of the items for the coop are re-purposed from other projects or free items people were going to throw out. The gate and outer fencing came from a friends property that had an old pony arena left for rot that we cleaned up and revived.
This is the metal ladder that we re-purposed to a ready made roost. We have already moved in the young chicks. They love having more room to run around and stretch their wings. We will be needing another roost but there is more than enough room right now. We decided to put the new younger flock in first so they could get settled and hopefully get picked on less once we co-mingle the two flocks. They are also still eating chick food but should switch to layer pellet in two months. That is when we are hoping to have both groups together. We usually cull about 3-6 of the older hens, any especially means ones move up to the top of the list. We didn't expect that all of our new flock would survive and be all hens, but it looks that way so far. We currently have 16 hens, 2 bantams, and our rooster. That will mean a whooping 30 hens. We will have to really thin the flock. This year after the culling of 6 hens we can see how we manage with 24 or so. Thankfully they are free range most of the day.
We will now have 6 nest box that are stacked 2 high. There is a opening on the left we call the "food shoot". This is where we can toss in goodies from the garden without having to walk around to the outer side. One of the remaining parts unfinished is the roost that will lead to the nest box. This should help keep the eggs cleaning, like a chicken doormat. I think the right ratio is 1 box for every 4 hens, so we really will have to keep to 24 layers.
Now this is beefed up security. We have learned to double up on wire, using an inner layer of chicken wire and then an outer layer of wire fence (this one is pony fencing). All of the openings are screened with two layers of wire, always. We also line the base with rocks to keep the diggers from getting in.
The remaining items on the to do list for this project to be finished are:
* Install an automatic water system. We are trying chicken nipples instead of the bowl system. I know it feels silly to say chicken nipple, you can't help but smirk.
* Additional Roost
* Double check the roof against drips and wind. That might have to wait until winter.
* Fill the nest box with straw,once we have layers in there.
I am very proud of all the work Jess has done, with some of my help, to make this new coop excellent for our chickens. They give us such lovely healthy eggs that they deserve it! (I coulda said eggcellent, hahaha)