Lessons in Coop Design: What Worked For Us
Even though my family kept chickens and ducks when I was younger I clearly still had a lot to learn when we decided to introduce them to Rabbit Ridge Farm last spring/summer. We are currently on our second coop and are going to begin building a new one in the spring. So hopefully some of you can learn from our mistakes.
Two Big Lessons Learned
1.) Chickens are the gateway drugs into all things farming and homesteading. Within the course of a year we have gone from lets just get 3 hens, to coming home with 4 hens, to 3 hens and 2 ducks, to 7 hens and 2 ducks, to 7 hens and 10 ducks with the possibility of bringing the hen total up to 12 this spring. Needless to say build a bigger coop than you’ll think you need or a least design with the possibility for an extension.
2.) If you have the patience take a year to plan your coop. Our first coop was on skids but the second isn’t moveable which is the main reason we need a new one. The location of our current coop is in full sun all summer long but not so much in the winter. Also when the driveway freezes in the winter any rain/meltwater runs in front of the coop door. So much fun!
Our current coop houses both our chickens and ducks but has a diving half wall in the middle. We found that they settle down more quickly at night when separated. When they were together the ducks would wait for the chickens to roost before going into the coop.
Probably my favorite coop feature is the 2 level floor which allows us to keeps the duck water away from where they sleep.
The ducks have shallow nest boxes and the chickens have milk crates.
Both chickens and ducks have had heat lamps for the past couple weeks as it has been bitter cold, it actually was – 30 degrees F and some of our chickens are in molt.
1.) Wall mounted laying boxes for the chickens. Milk crates do alright but it’s much easier to keep boxes on the wall clean and it makes collecting eggs easier.
2.) Windows, we have several we got for free on Craigslist. That way the ducks and chickens can have more light and it will help us air the coop out as needed.
3.) We are debating on wether or not to have heated waterers.
4.) A porch on the coop or at least a small outdoor covered area. We will also be giving them the run of the hoop house next winter.
5.) A shelf to store a couple of bales of hay and possibly enough room for a barrel of feed.
Suggestions? What would you change about your coop if you could do it over? Thanks for reading.
2 Responses to "Lessons in Coop Design: What Worked For Us"
I would discontinue using the heat lamp over hay/straw pronto. If you insist on using it move it higher above the hay/straw. I made some efficient water heaters out of 3/4″ plywood. They used a 25w bulb. I live in Louisville, KY so our temps are about the same.
Now that we live in West Virginia our birds don’t use a heat lamp I think they find it pretty toasty here! This post was written a few years ago when we lived in New Hampshire and temps hovering around -40 for a week left the ducks with frozen feathers. This was also partially do to the fact that our ducks came from a rescue and didn’t yet have good feathers, they do now 🙂
Also since our move to West Virginia we haven’t felt the need for a heated water bucket. The ducks are pretty excellent at keeping the water open for everyone since it doesn’t get as cold here. Thanks for reading!