Backyard chickens are growing in popularity and if you’ve got a little extra room in your yard, it’s easy to get on the farm wagon. Depending on the number of chickens you are considering, you may not even need as much space as you think! In just a few steps and some supplies, you can build your own chicken coop and reap the rewards of chicken raising. If you’ve got basic carpentry skills, you can build a coop in as little as a weekend. More elaborate coops can be built with advanced skills and a little more time. Whatever you’re after, you know that Friedman’s has the expertise and materials to get the job done!
First, decide on the number of chickens you want. This will determine the size of the coop and the space you’ll need. Each chicken should have roughly 4 square feet apiece. Ideally, you’ll give your chickens a little extra space beyond that guideline to make sure they are not cramped and have plenty of room. Every coop should include an indoor area to sleep and lay eggs, as well as an outdoor area for fresh air and roaming.
Next, you’ll need to plan and design your coop. A coop should have key features like a perch, nesting boxes, and an elevated section. Having all or at the very least some of the coop elevated will keep the chickens safe from predators and ensure their feet are dry in wet environments. A perch provides an ideal space for sleeping and nesting boxes give the chickens a comfortable place to lay eggs. The coop should be insulated according to your environment with plenty of ventilation. You should also be able to easily access all parts yourself for cleaning and upkeep. Also, having a shaded as well as a sunny area for your birds is optimal.
You can find plenty of coop blueprints online, or if you’re handy enough, you can create your own. You’ll need materials including rot-resistant lumber, nails, posts, and chicken wire. Depending on your plans, you may also need corrugated tin for the roof, gate hinges, and fine mesh for an easy to clean dropping area. Make sure your plans include adequate ventilation and protection.
Chickens can be a fun addition to your yard, providing your family with fresh eggs. Chickens often become part of the family as unique new pets! Building them a quality home will give them a comfortable place to live, roost, play, and lay. Our Friedman’s Experts can help you with plans, materials, tools, and tips to make sure your chicken coop will be a successful one.
Be aware that each city and town may have different city ordinances pertaining to the keeping of fowl. It is important to know your zoning and possible set-back requirements and flock size allowed.
10 A techno-coop in Lower Hutt
Even the pretty door is functional. The Hilton sits on what can be a cold, damp spot, so Aaron double glazed the window to help keep the coop warm. Inside the main coop with its heating lamp in the ceiling. The ‘broody breaker’, a special nesting area where a broody hen has to sit for a couple of days on an old fridge shelf which lowers her body temperature and helps to stimulate laying. “ I wanted to raise some babies, but integrate them without too much drama and hen warfare so at the very end of the coop, we blocked it off, put a heat lamp in there, put up netting to separate them… we had no issues in socialising them whatsoever because they were all in the same space.” The waterers are connected to a garden timer and are flushed with fresh water twice a day. A scrunched ball of chicken wire acts as a filter “We use those bars over the outdoor one so they don’t stand in it because they’re pretty dumb, by putting that over it they don’t poop in it and because the water goes through two times a day, it flushes it and it keeps it pretty clean.”
Who: Tania & Aaron Hall Where: Lower Hutt Land: 823m² Construction: plywood and timber, built within a small pool house Chickens: 2 Orpingtons, 2 Leghorns, 2 Orpington crosses
Like any good hotel, the Hilton in Lower Hutt has individual rooms, a maternity wing, automatic doors, heating, and cold, fresh water on tap. This modern coop also has a webcam for security and its own server.
“If I’m out and about, at work, I can actually log on to our server and look at the webcam and show people the chickens!” says Tania Hall, laughing. “At first it was curiosity and also so we could live stream it to show to people, but because we shut the door at night from the laundry, we could check to see if they are all in before we shut the door.”
The designer and builder of all this technology is Tania’s husband Aaron – “He’s an electrician-Mr- Wonder-fix-everything sort-of a guy” – and like all his projects, he took the construction of the coop very seriously.
“You want to see the dog kennel, it’s got batts in it, it’s ridiculous, and double glazing in the windows,” says Tania. “He’s an active relaxer… and he’s a really clever guy, I think he’s secretly rather chuffed with it.”
The coop was originally a small pool house storing inflatable toys. Aaron used timber and plywood to build the coop within the existing structure and made it very functional. It includes five nesting boxes, a special broody box that doubles as a nest and a reptile heating lamp connected to a temperature sensor, which turns on when it goes below 10°C.
Aaron also ran a cable back to the laundry so they can shut the coop door at night without having to leave the house, and open it again the next morning.
By the time you read this, Tania, Aaron and their flock will be on their new lifestyle block in Shannon, starting their new venture, Shannon Organics. Tania has big plans for the Hilton 2. She and Aaron have already raised, killed, butchered and curried a rooster – “if we’re going to be farmers, we’ve got to get over it… it was quite an experience” – and she wants to breed heritage birds to sell to city-based enthusiasts.
The lessons she’s learned from running the Hilton will be incorporated into the new coop: a heat lamp, or an LED lamp running on solar power, lower roosts so the heavy breeds can safely jump down without the potential for hurting themselves, hinged roosts so they can be flipped up to make entry and cleaning easier, and a concrete floor for easy cleaning.
This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.