Behold, below a gallery of my slow and painstaking coop building steps!
We wanted to eat yum (much cheaper eggs) and have chooks to look at (very delightful pastime) and feed scraps to…without the ravaged muddy ground, flies, CLEANING which goes with chooks.
Enter the composting chicken coop! Essentially what was needed was a chicken coop sitting on top of a compost bin within which all chicken poo fell into the compost, to be worked in (along with all the food and garden waste) by the chooks themselves.
- Build your compost bin. Ours is reclaimed concrete cinder blocks with sticks, stakes and mud crammed into the middle of them in an attempt to keep them together as one unit. Blocks were (VERY) mortar-y, this had to be chipped off to stack them straight-ish. On each corner I had one sturdy stake which sticks up for the structure of the coop to be attached to. Other than this, Im relying heavily on the weight of the coop to keep it all together on the blocks. In retrospect, buying a few more sturdy stakes would have let me sleep better on windy nights, but oh well.
Base size: 2.4m x 2m
Base cost: $40 for 80 blocks. Mud free. Stakes etc – scavenged.
- Plan, plan and plan some more. Clearly I didn’t do enough of this, even so, I spent a good 20 hours drawing, redrawing, thinking and rethinking this coop! Learning from past mistakes ive thought through all the attachments and fixings too to save money and time. If you’ve ever built anything you’ll know screws and nails and bolts and plates are poos for the budget. Ive scrapped one genuis time saver due to cost, but apart from that – ease is the steez here. Egg collection is closest to the house, a tube feeds feed from above egg collection to the sheltered bit (and holds enough for long weekends away), entering the coop is most convenient for compost collection, walls protect the chooks (and the garden) from prevailing winds, water collected from the roof was supposed to go straight to nipple drinkers, but this’ll have to be a good ole standard water dispenser for now, and roosting should be in the warmest spot at night – I havent made them an enclosed night-time spot, so we’ll see how this goes.
Planning time: 20hours+
- Prep your bits! I’ve used completely recycled bits for the wooden structure – all sourced from the backyard or the local dump. No detailed instructions here – its not too hard to figure out how to box something together and make it stay up is it? Ive got a solid 12mm ply back and 1/2 of each side is ply too, keeping the wind off the chooks, protecting them from hot summer afternoon sun and giving a bit of shade when needed. The roof is 1/2 corrugated iron, and half clear-ish plastic – light and shade. Nesting box sits to the side of the coop – just like standard fixed coop setups – no roosting on top = no poo to clean up and easy morning scrambles.
Its much easier to paint your wood before it goes up, doing it after = many many missed bits and much more time. Bleh!
Ply and Roofing: $187 (damn you roofing and ply! (and thats second hand!))
- Put your bits together! All this prep work meant our coop structure went up in one lovely sunny morning when the weather was finally cooperating.
- Net your ladies in! Make sure you’ve got all your gaps covered. We used netting, mud, wood and plants to gap proof! Nothing more annoying than being woken up by alarmed squawking coz a ratty came for a midnight snack!
- Panic about how you’re going to come up with 5 cubic metres of compost! You dont have to start off with a full pile, but you should have stuff at least 1/2m deep in that baby! Ive been piling it up whilst laborious brick laying went on, but am still nowhere near! Will have to buy hay, and have begged our neighbourly lawn man to drop off his clippings to us too. Other than that, better mow the lawns, chop the agapanthus, scavenge green waste from the dump and volunteer to do some neighbourly weeding! Oh, and eat more vegetables!
- Get yoself some teenage henny pennies! Theres a local factory farm supplier who does them for $15 each, otherwise I can shell out $25 on petshop ones! Im worried the factory ones will have no beaks and need a lot of education re: roosting etc, BUT having committed to spend no more than one years worth of eggs on this…an extra $50 defo doesn’t work!
- Make your coop real purdy! Mural op anyone? Im planning a grass and chicken theme…but it’ll be better than it sounds:P