We’re in the final stages of building our new coops. Which is super great, because we have a buttload of chicks in either temporary coops or en route. The buildings are built, we just had to make them chicken friendly. Now came time for the fun part… the roosts, feeders, nesting boxes, brooder, lounge, discoteque and luxury day spa.
One of our favorite elements of our original coop is the outdoor coop area. A lot of our chickens like to roost in this enclosed outdoor space even through the winter. It’s the perfect space for them to get some sunlight, fresh air and dust bathe even when the weather is crappy. So when we were designing our new coops, having this outdoor coop/run area was important to keep. We basically made an 8×10 extension off of the coop, put in a pop door and hung sheeting on two sides to protect the chickens from the elements.
We’ll hang two roosts in this area. When it comes time to breed certain chickens, we can close the pop door, throw a rooster and hen in there and let them get to know each other… ohhhhhh yeeeeaaahhhh! We might also put a temporary nesting box in there, or use it as a isolation chamber for newcomers so they don’t infect our existing flock with some kind of chicken AIDS (or maybe just worms and mites) before we have then chance to treat them.
Meanwhile, inside the coop we had to build nesting boxes. When building the nesting boxes, we knew that we wanted something that was easy to clean. I don’t know if you have ever had to scoop big piles of chicken dookie out of a nesting box but it is soooo faaaaaantastic! We also wanted them to be easy to move if we had a broody hen. I don’t know if you have ever tried to move a broody hen but she’s usually really cool about it and doesn’t even flip out every single time and try to peck the crap out of you or anything. And lastly, we wanted them all together. Right now, we have nesting boxes in the inside coop and outside coop areas of our original coop. It would be so nice if all of the chickens wanted to lay in the same area but that would just be too easy, right? So we re-designed a 5 gallon bucket nesting situation we saw online. We’ll be able to have 9 nesting buckets inside the coop. The wood planks that are in front of the buckets are on a hinge, allowing them to fold down, making it easy to remove the buckets and its chicken/dookie inhabitance. Next time a hen goes broody, we’ll be able to move her whole nest into a separate area without freaking her out too much.
On the opposite side of the coop we have the roosts, poop deck and built in brooder. This part of the coop is mega most favorite. The roosts are made from young cedar trees we found on the property. It gives the chickens that au-naturale, rustic vibe. So hot right now.
Underneath the roosts is the poop deck area. Chickens are basically constantly pooping. Especially when they’re roosting. Now instead of cleaning out the whole coop, we can just clean out the poop deck area to keep their coop smelling fresh as a daisy. This will also save straw. We can also use the poop/bedding mix as compostable organic material for the garden.
Word to the wise: chicken dookie is very high in nitrogen. So if you’re going to use it for gardening, beware! Too much nitrogen can burn plants but if you let it cook down (that’s cool garden lingo for “rot in a big steaming pile”) and turn it over every once in a while, it will be ok. Unless of course you are growing nitrogen loving plants like corn, in which case, high nitrogen is your friend.
Another very interesting use for chicken poop that we will definitely be exploring in another blog post/instructable is a little bit of backyard chemistry. I won’t go too far into it at this point. However, if you look around the internet you might find out that the white part of chicken poop is basically potassium nitrate. Potassium nitrate, when mixed with the proper amount of charcoal and sulfur, makes…. drumroll please… black powder. Pretty cool, huh? Black powder from chicken shit, it’s like a prepper’s dream. BANG BANG BANG!
Anyway, underneath the poop deck is the built in brooder. You guys, this is really exciting! When we have a hen go broody or have chicks we need to integrate into the flock, we can put them in the built in brooder. Momma can hatch and raise her chicks safely and the chicks can be introduced into the flock from day one. It can also double as a non chicken accessible storage area when it’s not in use.
The last step is to hang the feeder and waterer, set up storage bins, give it a good paint job and build the rain barrel. But it’s finished enough for the chickens to move in, which is good… because they’re getting so big and we have more on the way!
Over the weekend I laid down some wood shavings and straw, threw in their temporary waterer and feeder and introduced the Marans to their new home.