We’ve had the coop and run mostly finished for over a month now, and it’s been so nice for the chickens to have a place to run and scratch and explore safely. They grew fast, and moving them from their brooder out into the temporary run and back each day was getting exhausting (and messy-so messy!) I’m glad we raised them from babies, but I don’t know if I’d do it again, and might opt for started pullets if we ever need to replace birds in the future.
I found this shed on Craigslist after looking at a few other coops that were nice but would require us transporting them ourselves, which was going to be tough to manage. It was a former “model” Tuff Shed that had been used at trade shows. They cut out a section on the side to show how the shed is constructed, which is why you see that long diagonal slice down the side of it. That was basically the only thing we would have to repair, actually we did have to re-shingle part of the roof but they gave us the shingles, so for the price it was a steal- not to mention they delivered it for free!
We got to painting it right away and I had some great helpers! I opted to take the trouble of painting the inside white, which was totally unnecessary but I’m glad I did. I think it just looks more cheerful in there, and even if the chickens don’t care I like it better when I have to step inside to clean and restock stuff.
See- isn’t it cheery in there? Oh, and above you can sort of see the linoleum floor I put in for easier cleaning.
We built the run in sections in the garage and carried them down one by one. Each one is 4 feet wide exactly, which we decided to do right away to reduce the amount of cutting we had to do of the hardware cloth. Once they were assembled, we dug a trench and attached a 2 foot layer of hardware cloth to the base which we buried. This is to prevent animals (coyote and raccoons live in our neighborhood) from digging under to get in.
The whole exterior run is wrapped in 1/4 inch hardware cloth. We decided to cover half of the run with grey plastic roofing material (I can’t remember what that stuff is called right now) and I’m so glad we did that, too. Their food can be left out in the run and stay dry.
We painted the exterior gray to match the house (Benjamin Moore- Kendall Charcoal) and I added the “X’s” to the front door to give more of a barn look. The overturned pots in the front will one day hold pretty pink flowers and I also plan to add window boxes under both side windows. The statue of St. Francis of Assisi (patron saint of animals) was also a Craigslist find- yay for Craigslist! To the left of the coop you can see part of the tiny temporary run that the girls were sharing before we moved them into their new home- it was getting crowded! The total dimension of the new coop and run are 21′ x 8′- so they have plenty of room now to stretch their wings!
I installed a board across the floor in front of the door (see below) that can be easily removed when cleaning, but holds the mess inside nicely. The two galvanized trash cans in the photo below contain their feed and pine shavings. The shelf below the window came with the shed, and I plan to store other supplies there (oyster shells, diatomaceous earth, etc), but until I build the screen doors I have in mind that will close off that area, the girls love it up there and some actually roost up there at night.
Speaking of roosts, below you can see the roosting bars I put together with branches from our property. I wanted removable bars so that they could easily be cleaned or replaced as needed. I put the top “J” clips on the top without thinking about the room they would need to fit so close to the wall up there-woops! Hence, no branch on the top. All 8 of them actually fit fine between the two remaining branches, and it’s really entertaining to watch them fight for the top. To the left of the roosting bars and near the floor you can see the hole we cut into the wall which leads out into the run.
The picture below shows the other side of the coop where I will put a couple of nesting boxes when they start giving us eggs (soon, I think!) I also covered the coop windows with hardware cloth to keep the critters out.
Below you can see the dust bath I made for them with small boulders we found laying around the woods, and my very favorite part of the whole thing…the automatic chicken door! That thing wasn’t cheap, but was worth every penny. We left for almost a week (without anyone checking on them) recently and they were safe and happy when we returned thanks to that door. It’s battery operated and works like a charm, opening and closing at whatever time I program in. It also has the option to open or close based on the sunlight, but with the roof overhead creating some shade and all the tall trees around, I’m a little reluctant to use that setting.
Below you can see the run from the other angle and the roosting bars we added so they can sunbathe when they want.
Here’s a closer view of the door opening out from the coop into the run and Alice (or Goldie? Only the kids can keep them straight!) making her way outside.
A couple of the girls got out when I was taking pictures, and they are so funny to watch when they’re “free”. They are generally skittish about everything so they don’t venture far from home, and actually try to find their way back in pretty quickly especially if any of the others are still inside. Below you can see how attached they seem to be to each other…these girls were trying to get to each other but were a bit confused about the hardware cloth.
Tebow is really relaxed about the chickens when they are “free ranging” around him. Sometimes he mistakenly thinks they want to play and gives them quite a scare. He’ll kind of pounce at them and they run off squawking super loud- it’s quite funny.
Had to finish with a picture of our good boy:)