Backyard chickens are exciting, super fun and entertaining. We have loved having chickens in our backyard for almost the past decade. Over the years, we have gone through a few chicken coops. Does that surprise you? Sadly, this happens to quite a few folks due to things like chicken math, wish lists, what’s working, what’s not working and quality of the construction. It’s kind of the norm for most chicken keepers, but it doesn’t have to be. When it comes to keeping chickens, the chicken coop is the most costly part of the hobby. From building your own chicken coop to purchasing one ready to assemble or even assembled online, here are some tips and common pitfalls to avoid and help you to get your design right the first time.
Earlier this spring, I was invited by P. Allen Smith to attend the Garden 2 Grow retreat at his Moss Mountain Farm located in the beautiful hills just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. One of the highlights of the retreat was the invitation by P. Allen himself to tour Poultryville. A poultry enthusiast since 10 years of age, P. Allen Smith has made it one of his life’s missions to preserve rare and threatened poultry breeds. He created the Heritage Poultry Conservancy with that in mind and is incredibly dedicated to this cause. His knowledge of poultry is amazing and his passion is palpable.
I was recently near San Diego, California for filming. They chose to film on this amazing piece of property that featured a chicken cathedral style chicken coop. I had a chance to chat with Jean, the visionary and creator of the the coop. Not one detail was overlooked and it is a true work of art. Take a peek at this marvelous chicken cathedral coop tour. I think you will agree that Jean is one amazing woman!
I met Kate from Farmhouse 38 soon after I won the Blue Ribbon Blogger Award from Country Living Magazine back in 2011. Instantaneously, we developed a lovely friendship. We were two kindred spirits living on opposite coasts. There is just something about folks that keep chickens that makes you feel as though you have known one another all of your lives. Kate is one of those people. I was ecstatic on my last trip to Los Angeles that we were able to workout a visit in person. I could not wait to meet and take a little tour of her newly remodeled chicken coop. How could I resist!
Tucked away in a corner of her backyard are her two beautifully made coops. Of course, like most of us, she started with the smaller one on the right and realized that she had to have more chickens and a larger coop. She is currently in the process of acclimating newer pullets on the right into her existing flock on the left. She keeps the runs divided with a pass through door in the center. Immediately I was greeted at the gate by her beautiful flock.
Click here for over 20 more coop tours.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest
I met Mike two years ago when he came over to my house on business. As he was leaving, he inquired about the chickens in the yard. Of course, I had to take him over to the coop, introduce him to the girls and give him my 15 minute schpeel on the glory of keeping backyard chickens. It wasn’t long until Mike emailed me to tell me the news, they were the proud owners of baby chicks!
This post is linked up to Homestead Revival’s Barn Hop.
I was thrilled to discover that my new friend, Alicia, keeps chickens. For me, it instantly adds depth to a friendship when I find out that we share common interests. I first met Alicia this past Winter when I took the beekeeping class. I loved that we immediately had so many things to talk about and stories to share. This past weekend, we went together to pick-up our bees, but first, I had to meet her girls.
Alicia keeps two coops, one for the “mean girls” and one for the “nice girls”. The mean girls have very dominant personalities and for a chicken, it takes quite a bit to keep up with this group. The nice girls are gentle and never worry about being dominant. They are sweet to all newcomers, including hens that Alicia helps to rescue. During my visit, both flocks were friendly. They enjoyed me petting them and I could have easily picked up most of her hens.
|Mean girls’ residence|
|Nice girls’ residence|
The two coops are separated from each other by lovely gardens. The nice girls’ coop was Alicia’s original coop that was built as a birthday present for her by her boyfriend. Soon enough, her love for chickens began and her flock outgrew this smaller coop. Alicia and her boyfriend constructed the new coop closer to the house. Working with salvaged lumber and windows, the new coop was born with mostly recycled materials. However, as new members were added to the flock, it was clear that some sweet girls would do better in a home of their own. So, she split the flock and they are now happy living separate lives.
Beautiful raised garden beds and lovely seating areas surround the coop making it a lovely spot to sit in the dappled sunshine. As you prepare to enter the coop, a sweet painting greets you. It’s hard not to smile.
Immediately, I was impressed with all of the beautiful natural light that filled the coop. The entire back side of the coop’s roof is made of clear corrugated roofing. Alicia tells me that often she finds her girls napping inside the coop just basking in the sunshine. It is also great on Winter days. The hens love finding a bit of sunshine when snow is outside on the ground. Inside the coop, on the wall next to the nesting boxes, the hens have access to small containers of grit and oyster shells. Their food and water is out in the run.
The nesting boxes are cleverly designed. They have hinges and locks that twist allowing the entire front of the boxes, roosts and all to lift up for easy cleaning. Circular entry holes were cut into the fronts of the boxes, to prevent the hens from kicking out the shavings. The girls were anxious to show me their run. I soon learned why.
Outside in the run was the most magnificent jungle gym for chickens that I had ever laid my eyes on! The hens love to play on it all day and it helps them to get high up into the rafters where they enjoy roosting during the day.
Alicia’s flock is beautiful and is made up of an assortment of colorful breeds. She even has a Silver Laced Wyandotte that is probably Dottie Speckle’s sister. You can see her in the background of the second photo below.
Soon enough, it was time to meet the nice girls.
Four sweet hens live at the top of the hill in the nice coop. They have all the same luxuries in life as the mean girls including a miniature chicken jungle gym. We were immediately greeted by her sweet Buff Orpington. Inside the coop we met her broody girl, who according to Alicia, is always sitting on eggs. We discovered four underneath her when she got up for some meal worm treats.
It was amazing as the energy in this coop up top the hill was very different. It was laid back as opposed to the high energy that I felt in the other coop. Personalities seemed well matched in both her flocks. I love how she was able to create two distinctly different flocks and chicken coops all in the same yard. This is a great solution to problems that most chicken keepers encounter.
Of course, I could not do this Tour de Coop without sharing you Alicia’s beehives. Here they are sectioned off in between the two coops on the side of her yard.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest
Lauren Scheuer and I have become great friends over our common love for chickens. We spoil our girls. We love them deeply and are constantly entertained by their antics. So, you can imagine my excitement when I finally got to meet the girls I knew so dearly through her blog!
It was a cold January morning when I met the girls. There they were; Fern, Pigeon, Lucy, Daisy and Lil’ White. Lauren shared some treats as an icebreaker. At first they were afraid of me, until I squatted on the ground in the run and said hello in my best chicken voice. Somehow, the language is universal and they all came over one by one to greet me.
Her run and coop are covered and are designed with an A-frame roof. It is perfect for rain and snow to melt away and never create too much weight. She covers the hardware cloth with plastic sheeting in the Winter to help minimize the girls’ exposure to the elements. This also serves to keep the portion of the run closest to the coop sheltered. A ramp leads up to the entry door of the coop. A heated dog bowl in the covered run keeps their water from freezing in the winter and food is available at all times. Play things are abundant including logs, treat containers and perches. Lauren tells me that her best idea was adding play sand to this portion of the run.
Inside the coop, there are a variety of perches of different widths and heights to meet every chicken’s desire. Lauren uses pine shavings on the floor. Despite her best efforts, poor Fern always needs to retire at night with the help of Lauren. The coop has a large window that faces the morning sun. It is perfect for early risers and wonderful to give outsiders a glimpse in.
Soon enough, the cold began to nip at our noses and we needed to return inside to the warmth of the house and get ready for our day trip to the Poultry Congress.
Lauren reminded Marky of his chicken duties. I watched the two of them communicate without words. It was clear he understood.
If you would like to see more of our Tour de Coops, click here.
Photo Credits: Tilly’s Nest
|Fall Perennial Garden|
I had been talking to a fellow blogger about my ideas about the future of Tilly’s Nest. We shared ideas with one another, provided feedback and support. Well the time has come to introduce an idea that I shared with her. She loved it and I think you will too.
As you know, chicken coops and chickens can be addictive to say the least! People love to see and share their coop, flock and technique that make their life easier in keeping a small backyard flock. So, from now until the end of December, you can link up stories about your flock, pictures of you coops, share your ideas and so much more. As long as we are talking about backyard chickens, feel free to share away! I can’t wait to meet and greet you and your chickens.
|Coop and Run|
|3 nesting boxes, small feeder and roosts|
So tell us about your coop now in the comments!
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest
St. John had many wild chickens roaming everywhere. After a few days on the island, it soon became clear to me that most likely not many people kept backyard chickens. However, a girl can try. I searched everywhere I could trying to discover and share a Tour de Coop. I watched as homes whizzed by as we were driving, hoping to catch a glimpse of a small coop tucked away in someone’s yard. I did not have any luck until my husband and I decided to go horseback riding.
We met Dana and her menagerie of wonderful animals including donkeys, horses, goats, cats and, finally, chickens. As Dana saddled up our horses for our hour and a half scenic tour, I could not help but interact with her chickens. Some she raised as chicks and some just happened to show up. She has a few roosters and one in particular that likes to follow her around. For the most part, they are skittish, like those in the wild.
Dana allows them to roam free on her property. She has a coop and nesting boxes in a small corral with a couple of goats. The chickens know that there is a supply of fresh food and water here and that keeps her flock nearby. The chickens and the goats actually get along pretty well, but the goats have been known to interrupt egg laying. Some of her hens prefer to lay eggs outside of the boxes and coop area. Dana has found clutches of eggs here and there. On the day of our visit, she spotted a tiny white egg laid on the top of her roof!
|Coop area with nesting boxes|
It was heartwarming to meet this woman with such a wonderful heart and compassion for animals. Some of her animals are rehabilitating from injuries. Some cannot return to the wild. A few of her horses are in their retirement and spend their days interacting with other horses and taking visitors to view amazing vistas and island scenery. We had a wonderful time. The horseback riding was fantastic and I encourage you to visit Dana and her animals if you are ever visiting St. John. You can read more about Dana, her company and her animals here.
Photo Credits: Tilly’s Nest