Guess what, no matter what you decide concerning Free Ranging or Culling or anything else, you are gonna need a Coop if you’re bringin’ home Chickens.
Where to get Ideas?
There is a website called, Backyard Chickens.com. Great place. They aren’t paying me to say that either. See my disclaimer on the About page. The fact is, that site helped me a lot in the beginning and continues to help. There is a message board and pretty much any problem or question you can think of, people have posted and found an answer there. They have information concerning Breeds (though I have an even better one for that) and even a spot concerning Coops — with plans and details of how people built them. Real people. Like you and me. Not some fancy designer who gives you a hint but makes you pay for it all. No, on that website, people have listed in great detail what materials you will need and even step by step pictured instructions. So, be smart and bookmark that site.
Can you just buy a Coop?
When I first started out with Chickens of my own, I stumbled across, unexpectedly, 12 three-day-old Road Island Reds (abbreviation you will see a lot — RIR).
Because we weren’t expecting to run across any pullets (female chics), we didn’t have a Coop built yet. I was still making my plans for one. Now, rest assured, I’ll go into more concerning Baby Chics later on, but for right now know this . . .
WHERE you live will decide WHAT you build or buy as far as Coops go.
If you live in the Country like me, then one of those cute and cozy store bought things isn’t gonna cut it. This one here looks close to the one I bought.
Hey, it was only gonna be temporary. The plan was, build on. By the time the Ladies were old enough to be out on their own (once all their feathers were in and nights were at least 70 degrees), this would be temporarily perfect.
Slap me on the head and call me stupid and naive for ever believing that one. It was a disaster… because of where I lived. A bear tore into that thing as if it was butter and in the end, made toothpicks of it within the first month of having it outside. More on that to come under Predators.
So you see, again, where you live and what lurks will be a big factor on what kind of Coop you need.
If you live near homes or have a tiny backyard and are planning on having just a few birds for pets, that Coop above, that was a catastrophe for me, might be ideal for you. Especially if you have yourself a sweet spot in a subdivision or something.
For me, another thorn in my side was . . . I hated cleaning the small store bought coop. Dreaded it. I’m a curvy girl needing room to maneuver. It wasn’t very manageable or built to make that part of chicken keeping easy. I couldn’t walk inside and reach to the other side in order to clean out droppings. Well, maybe if I was Alice in Wonderland and drank the tiny potion.
That’s another reason you will research Coops. A ton of people out there have figured out little tips and tricks on making things real easy. This is a live and learn kind of deal and you will be better off benefiting off of what other people have learned rather than always learning the hard way. That alone will save you a lot of time, money, and headaches.
For example, I saw where a woman lined the inner walls of her Coop (where the nesting boxes were) with cheap linoleum. Cleaning out was a breeze. She pointed the hose and sprayed the walls and floor right off. Don’t think that isn’t part of my Coops design. That woman’s brain is absolutely brilliant.
There are also people who figured out how to make extra large auto-feeders out of buckets or trashcans and laundry baskets. People who have figured out how to make water warmers or auto-feedersm etc. You don’t have to have a degree in engineering to make this stuff.
The Coop I have now . . . .
That’s another thing . . . you will see a ton of pictures of people’s luxury Coops that have beautiful paintings, flowerbeds and whatever else. I’ve never seen anything like that survive chickens — or wouldn’t here—but if you are out to design the bold and the beautiful, I wish you a world of luck and hope you succeed. Send me a pic. You can bet your burnt biscuits, I’ll show it off!
Just remember, take the time and research. Learn how people recycle things like pallets or even tires. I once saw a Coop made out of a trampoline and a kid’s playhouse. Also, remember, you will always update and add, change and tweak. It’s an on-going journey.
Next article: Baby Chics or Full Grown Hens?