By Jerry Hanson, Pine Meadows Hobby Farm, Oregon
When thinking of a chicken coop idea, I knew I wanted an easy to clean coop. I came up with this chicken coop idea after my wife and I found five acres to purchase from our county’s surplus property auction. This farm is a distance of one mile down the road from the 84-acre ranch we had been renting and living in for some years. We closed the purchase on our anniversary.
The farm had been abandoned for some years. Some squatters occupied the property and stripped, wrecked, disassembled, and demolished the site. After cleaning up the land and salvaging as much material as I could, I accumulated a pile of usable building material and started thinking up chicken coop ideas. In addition, I had collected other free material and stockpiled it at the ranch nearby for use at a later time. The result was enough material to build a small chicken coop and barn. The total cost of the coop was approximately $235.
After measuring all of the material, I sat down at my desk and began drawing up some chicken coop ideas based upon the available material. What I came up with was an enclosed chicken coop. The coop measures 6′ wide, 12′ long and 9’ high. The house area measures 6′ x 6′ x 6′. I elevated this house two feet off the run. This frees up an enclosed run of 6′ x 12′.
I was able to salvage some tin sheeting from what was left of the destroyed single-wide mobile home on the property and fastened it to the bottom of the frame of the chicken run. This way it prevents chicken predators from digging under the chicken yard and getting to my hens. This also makes it easy to clean out once per year in the fall when I’m preparing the chicken house for winter. I simply spread pine shavings on the floor and provide a recycled wooden box for a dust bath for chickens.
My chicken coop idea is coming to life!
The water container perches atop a cement block in which I place a 50 watt light bulb plugged into a “farmers outlet.” This outlet has a built-in thermostat, which turns on at 35°F and off at 45°F. This heated chicken waterer keeps their water from freezing in the winter months.
Inside the coop I placed a removable roost made from a 2″ x 4″ with routed edges for the chickens to roost on. This roost perches atop a tray that is 16″ wide and long enough to reach from wall to wall of the coop with an inch to spare. This tray has a 2″ lip around it and within this I place pine shavings. The floor of the coop is covered with pine shavings as well.
Clean-up requires simply removing the roost and setting it aside, then removing the tray and carrying it to the garden or compost bin. I also use this in a five-gallon bucket full of water with an aquarium air pump and air stone in the bottom of the bucket. Allowing the air to bubble for three days allows the proliferation of aerobic microbes to digest the goodies and create an excellent tea for the garden plants in approximately three days. This tray is the only thing you clean four times a year. I schedule my clean-out on the Summer Solstice, Fall Equinox, Winter Solstice, and Spring Equinox. (Ed. note: That would be roughly the 21st of June, September, December, and March.)
The floor of the chicken coop and run are cleaned out in the fall once per year as most of the chicken waste is collected below the roost. This method prevents any odor build-up. I chose fall for the annual clean out because the garden would have been harvested and tilled making perfect sense to implement the spring growing season with the wood and chicken waste to amend the nutrients to the garden soil allowing it to cure through the winter before spring planting.
With this chicken coop design, there is no odor build-up within the coop. In addition, I placed two re-purposed windows on the east and west walls to open and create a cross draft for ventilation. This works wonderfully.
The chicken nesting boxes were attached to the outside of the coop to make it easy for my wife to collect eggs without having to enter the coop.
We allow our chickens to free-range daily by opening the chicken run access door in the mornings and closing it at dusk after they have all gone to roost.
This chicken coop idea accommodates one rooster named Rodney and 12 hens. To see a video presentation of the building of this coop and the annual clean out visit our YouTube channel at Pine Meadows Hobby Farm “The Little Red Chicken Coop at Pine Meadows Hobby Farm” and “Farm Chores Cleaning the Easy Clean Chicken Coop at Pine Meadows Hobby Farm” on the web.
What chicken coop ideas have you tried? We love to hear about them!
Originally published in Countryside March/April 2015 and regularly vetted for accuracy.