Chicks checking out their new home.
Chickens are a big responsibility. We’ve wanted to have them from the very beginning, but we waited until most of the other garden systems were under control before taking on the extra burden. That said, chickens are also a joy and we are fascinated and charmed by them every day. After hanging out in a brooder for a little over a week, the chicks were ready to move into larger quarters so we built them a coop. It’s amazing how fast they grow! Our goal was to use as many recycled and found materials as possible, which worked out great. The only things we bought were a few 2×4′s, some galvanized nails, screws and a roll of chicken wire.
The plan is for the chickens to free range in a fenced off area of the garden. They will live under a large mango tree and have access to scratching throughout a large area planted with mostly bananas, papayas, herbs, peanuts, yucca, lemongrass and other hearty perennial crops. Their coop will serve as place to lay eggs and most importantly as a safe haven during the night.
A floor made from recycled shipping pallets covered in chicken wire stand on cinder blocks for added ventilation and a place under the coop for raising worms.
The nesting boxes where made out of recycled buckets! We cut holes out of the wall to fit the buckets through and then cut out the bottoms of the buckets. Chickens will enter the nesting box from the cut out end and the lid end, which will face the outside of the coop, provides access for collecting eggs.
The frame and walls going up.
Using left over paint from a house project, we painted all of the wood to protect it from rain and sun. Then we started neatly attaching chicken wire onto the frame.
We used a found sheet of tinted plexiglass as a roof and made doors out of scavanged cedar planks.
The last few touches were locks for the doors and a piece of electrical conduit hooked across the bucket lids, which pop off easily and could be a problem with visiting racoons and possums.
The bucket nesting boxes worked out well. In the back you can see a large door, also made from cedar planks, which we put in for accress to cleaning and other maintenance chores.
The tinted roof and open walls created a shady and breezy environment for the chickens. They have a great view of the sky and their garden from inside!
The chicks are still too young to roam around in the garden so they will stay in the coop for a while. We put down cardboard and wood shavings as well as food and water to give them a warm welcome to their new home!