There are so many things I wish we had known before we built houses for our Chickens and Ducks, so I’m not going to tell you how to build a coop because there are plenty of tutorials online already. I’m just going to tell you all the stuff no one mentioned and would have been of tremendous help beforehand.
I’ll start from the top, the roof. We decided to go with tinted plastic roofing so the chickens would get plenty of light and sun, what a great idea we thought! Sure it was a great idea, all the way up until the end of June when we were in our longest daylight hours. All that extra light and sun we thought would be so amazing for our chickens was no longer all that amazing when they were waking up at 4 am crowing and singing with the sun. They’re not so cute anymore when you can’t keep your window open during the summer without their extremely loud serenade not just when they wake up but every time they lay an egg or when their friend lays an egg and they cheer them on. No one else seemed to care about our roosters crowing and hens singing so now we just go with it, but if you live with neighbors who do care DONT get see-through roofing.
On to the house itself, when we built ours we decided to raise it off the ground so the chickens could have the extra space as part of their run. It seemed like a really smart idea, however once again I screwed myself. No matter how many clever tools I seem to come up with, poop scooping underneath a coop that is no more than 24 inches off the ground is a pain in the ass!!!!!! Sure I could send my daughter under there to clean it up but what kid ever does a great job while poop scooping, and what would take an adult a few minutes to do ends up taking children hours. So be smart when designing your coop, if you want a raised coop thats great just raise it high enough so you can get under it to properly clean it. You will thank me when you aren’t on your hands and knees in chicken crap.
Chicken coop and run flooring, I’ve tried it all and I can say without a doubt that sand is the best way to go both for the health of your chickens and your own sanity. Let me explain all the things I have tried. First thing I tried inside my chicken house was shavings on the floor, it was a mess and it was not easy to poop scoop so the chickens were walking in their poop on the way to the nest boxes every day getting my eggs all dirty. Removed that and put sand inside the coop as well as the run, poop scoop first thing in the morning and I had clean eggs again. On my next coop we put the run right on top of the grass thinking the chickens would dig up the grass and roots then we would just do sand, haha what do you know there is still dirt in the run. Why doesn’t dirt work you may wonder, well you can’t easily scoop poop so it smears around and worse than that you are removing a bunch of dirt and throwing it in compost all the time, eventually you will need to replace that dirt and if you don’t have a big pile of extra dirt it will cost you money. Finally I have tried putting straw on the floor of the run as well and its a smelly disgusting mess, don’t do it unless you have to!
I wish someone had told me these things prior to me building my coops, maybe I just didn’t ask the right questions or maybe I wasn’t patient enough through the design and building process. What I know now is that I would do many things different if given the opportunity and I will likely make some changes as I go along and build bigger better coops. But these few things would have saved us time time and money had we known in the beginning.
Thanks for reading tonights dirty lessons,