When we moved here, there were no corrals, no pasture fences, or even a chicken coop. In fact the only animals that had graced the place were an old yellow lab and at one time a cat. You’ve got to be asking, “what’s a barn and a loafing shed for then?”, well I guess the barn loft was for the overflow of a Barbie collection of the 70 some year old previous owner’s and the main level to store wood and tools. Just didn’t seem proper for a barn and loafing shed in the Wyoming so we quickly threw up some cow panels and brought the goats along with a small portable chicken coop I’d put together from a large shipping box.
It soon became apparent that first winter that though the barn was only a couple years old, the previous owner had chosen the snowiest spot of the whole place. So we hemmed and hawed what to do. There just wasn’t a decent place left to put corrals and we wanted the barn to be a barn, in part at least with pens. The other part is for the tractor, the forging equipment, and some tools, still barn-like accessories.
After a year of debate on where to build a coop, we transformed this storage room in the loafing shed which held puzzles and dolls, and other childhood gems previously into a chicken coop. We added heavy insulation on the back and lighter on the sides where it was protected using what we had and a little more. We’ve discovered that when the snow gets deep, it’s best to have your stock in a small area so as not to have to buck too many drifts to feed and water.
This coop is hardly the coop of my dreams. It would have had a nice enclosed two run and two rooms, one for chicks or growing roosters, and the other for hens. It would have had nice windows to the south for light just like the old, old coop on the homestead place down below ours. They really knew how to build them in those days. Probably because it was part of their survival. BUT one makes due with what one has and what we had was this. Nothing fancy. No curtains and chandeliers like I’ve seen in some and tubs instead of nesting boxes. The standard sized ones we built were too small for our hens so they just perched on the top. Someday I’ll get another set built with a brooder box on top. But for now the tubs are quite large and two to three hens lay inside enjoying company as their tails bop up and down as contractions move the eggs onto the deep bedded nests.
What we did copy from the homestead coop was the roosting set up. It lifted to the ceiling for easy cleaning underneath. As most of you know, hens do most of their pooping here on the roost.
The slats attach the roost to the wall with hinges.
Just a piece of rope suspended from the ceiling to hold it up out of the way when I clean below.
Kirk wired the coop for light and we added an extra one on a timer that turns on for 2, 4, or 6 hours when the sun sets and works with a switch. Our sun hides behind the foothills in a hurry come evening, often leaving strays huddled in the dark outside the coop. The light, helps them find their way home and triggers the pituitary gland through light hitting the back of the eye to tell the hens to lay eggs in the wintertime. The plug in on the light can also be used for a heat lamp which we’ve never needed. The whole point of insulating it.
There is a 2 gallon and we have a 5 gallon waterer depending on the time of year that we use. On a block of cement it keeps the water up and away from treading feet which can soak the flooring.
We switch to two rubber tubs inside one another when the temperatures dip low. The weight of two keeps them from tipping over if a hen perches on the edge. The rubber makes it possible to toss out the door onto the ground to break the ice that might form. Most of the time it doesn’t, even when the temperatures dip down to the single digits. Only if the door is left open and the coop gets chilled do we fight ice. Love, love the insulation but the protected location of the coop snuggled up against the barn and the overhang space by the stalls helps to warm it also. Toasty and warm, reduces the feed requirements in winter, and helps keep the hens laying.
We also have heavy rubber horse stall mats on the wood floor making cleaning a breeze. You might be sold on deep mulch technique but I’ve tried it and love this set up better as it works best for my back, ammonia levels, and the weather.
In the space between the coop and the stalls, where the goats go to get out of the weather in the daylight hours, we put a vent. It is far back and faces west from which most of our weather comes but it is protected from the wind keeping the rain and snow out. Ventilation is critical as it lowers ammonia build up and moisture. Two health hazards for your hens.
The cross vent above the door facing south can be opened in the summer for greater ventilation of build up heat near the ceiling. Or locked shut against the blowing snows and cold of winter. Both have chicken wire stapled on the inside of the vents to prevent predators and things that eat grain from crawling in when open.
Pretty simple isn’t it, no chandeliers, or curtains. Just a bar across the door to keep the wind from rattling the door and predators out and a small door at the bottom of this door to let the hens in and out and keep in as much heat as possible come winter. If you’d have seen this door last winter before the paint job, you would have seen racoon claw marks. We have double and triple latches on all our doors leading to the livestock. It is the Wild West.
It doesn’t take much to keep hens happy and me too.