Re-designing the Coop Already!

Got another egg yesterday and three so far today. One of today’s was broken because the shell was very membrane-y. I couldn’t reach it so I covered it with lots of hay — don’t want the girls getting a taste for fresh eggs!  The other two today have thin shells but ok. Thin shells are pretty standard for new layers, apparently. Our Costa Rica girls laid thick-shelled eggs from the start! Not that I’m comparing my pansy U.S. chickens to my hearty Costa Rica girls…

Now, this coop is a beautiful thing and Hal and the boys worked really hard on it. I am grateful!!! However, it has problems. I’m constantly redesigning my dream coop in my head. “Dream coop”, lol.

For one thing, this one is too long. In order to move it, I have to lift one end practically over my head so the wheels will roll… which lets the chickens escape at my end. Argh. So I only move the coop when the kids are inside, which is fine. When I’m feeling strong. We are going to put a handle a little lower on the frame so I can start the lift with my arms extended. Let’s face it: I’m the one doing the heavy chicken lifting around here!

The house is not laid out very well. We re-did the roosts. The old design is at right: the girls’ chests were dirty with poop from rubbing up against the roosts when they jumped up — there’s just not enough room to avoid that. With the new roosts, they are clean today!

Plus we put walls in front of the nesting boxes so they won’t roost over there. At right is a pix of the old nests without walls: they were standing on the edge there, pooping away and attempting to roost on the sides of the nests. Yuck. I want poop-free eggs.

There has to be a way to keep food and water in the house. The only place to do that and keep it all poop-free is under the nesting shelf (see left pic above). So I need a door at the back of the house to get under there. I can see now that the back of the coop should open up, not the top.

The last thing I will change is the chicken entry door: it needs to be on the outside of the coop! See the string? There is a place to tie it off on the front of the house, then the string goes over the ledge and down the inside wall to the plywood door that you slide up and down with the string. Well, the string does not slide that freely. Big surprise, I know. And the door sticks — I have to reach down between the chicken wire and the front of the house and up into the doorway and grab the door to get it started coming down… Some of these adjustments seem so obvious now. I mean, why try to pull a string over a ledge in the first place?

This is my new idea: a hoop coop! Click on the picture to go the website for this coop. I wouldn’t make mine so tall — I’d make it way lower without a human door. This means it will require openings for food/water input and egg retrieval, but I think that will work. Anyone? I wonder how many coops you build before you get it right?

The nesting boxes are plastic bins on the right side. The perches are at the back on the left. The rope is used to drag it around. It’s so light it doesn’t need wheels… I’d probably have wheels on mine in the back anyway.

Here are Joel Salatin’s coops — talk about basic!

Oh, I’m also going to use a pvc pipe like my friend Izzie for the food. No picture yet but you get a 3′ piece of pipe, close both ends, cut a nice wide section out of it all along the length and hang it horizontally on the wall. Fill it with food and easy feeder — very clever. Definitely doing that: one half will be for feed and one for treats (rice, kefir, fruits, etc.) Washing out a dish at the end of the day after the chickens ate, walked thru and occasionally pooped in it is GROSS.

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