In April, Brian started building the frame of a chicken coop and run area in our yard. The chicks were non-existent, and it was all still just an idea.
Were we crazy for building a chicken coop in our urban backyard? Could we make it look nice or would it be an eye sore? Would it decrease the value of our home?
In April, we started the project (see pictures from Part 1 here). We had little chicks who would soon need a bigger home.
In June, it was time for the chickens to live outside. We made more progress on the coop and run area in Building a DIY Backyard Chicken Coop – Part 2.
Now in August, months later, we’ve put the final touches on it.
- coop light on a timer
- nesting box/bucket
- chicken wire top
- roof shingles
Coop Perch, Coop Light on a Timer & Nesting Bucket
There are often two parts to a chicken home – the coop (their house) and the run (their outside space).
Our chicken run is built around two evergreen trees, and even though I love it because the trees shelter them from extreme weather and it feels more natural, it presented multiple challenges.
As first-time chicken owners, we set out to make their run area the coolest playground possible. We had lots of little branches poking through the chicken wire sides so they could hop around. We even tied a big branch in-between the two evergreens, giving them a great place to rest.
The issue? They refused to go inside of their coop. Ever.
The chickens all preferred to sleep outside rather than go inside the coop that we spent hours and hours building.
But they weren’t just sleeping outside in their run. Come dark, one by one, they would walk up the ladder that’s connected to their coop and use the extra height to fly into the evergreen trees to roost for the night.
As we talked to chicken-loving friends about our stubborn chicken sleeping habits, we realized we made a few mistakes along the way.
Mistake #1: Too many roost opportunities outside of their coop. They had big perches in their run and in the trees, but we didn’t have a perch for them inside the coop. We didn’t realize that chickens liked to perch at night. We took down their perches in the run and added a big perch in their coop.
Mistake #2: Not covering the top of their run. They were flying out of the run at night to perch high in the trees. This wouldn’t be a big deal, except in the morning, only half of them chose to fly down back into their run area. The other half decided to hop the fence, so each morning I had to chicken herd them back inside.
Although I’m sure the neighbors enjoyed watching my morning ritual of running around in my bathrobe, chasing after chickens, this wasn’t a long-term solution.
In this picture, you can see how they would line up on the coop ladder, then one by one, they’d fly up on the wood beam ledge, then scoot into the trees.
When our good friend Chuck was visiting, he helped us cover the top of the run so they couldn’t escape anymore at night. Brian & Chuck cut a hole in the wire for the trees to pop through. (Big shout-out to Chuck, who spent a day of his Alaska vacation working on a chicken coop!)
For a few days after we added the top, the chickens would still line up on the ladder, staring at the new cover, confused and irritated.
I love this picture. Notice the chickens (bottom left) watching the men work.
Mistake #3: Their food wasn’t in the coop. By moving their food into their coop, it forces them to get more comfortable going in and out. It gives them a reason for the coop to feel homey and safe.
Mistake #4 (wow, we made a lot of mistakes): Not having a light in their coop to attract them at night. Plenty of coops don’t have a light inside, but since we were trying to convince our chickens to go inside at night (and we were trying to break a bad habit), it really helped to get their coop light on a timer. As dusk settles in for the night and their run area gets dark, a nice bright light pops on in their coop makes them want to go inside. And it totally works.
Here’s the inside of their coop now. They have everything they would need inside their coop, including a top-of-the-line nesting box I made from a 5-gallon Lowe’s bucket.
Coop Roof Shingles
When we first moved into the house, there was a pile of old shingles behind one of the sheds. They were filled with rusty nails, covered in dirt and leaves. But hey, good enough for a chicken coop.
My friend Laura came over one afternoon to help me pull old rusty nails and staples out of the shingles. Thank you again Laura! I have some fantastic friends. :)
Then Brian & Chuck went to work nailing down the shingles and building a sturdier roof.
Since we used old wood shingles that had already been weathered, it gave the roof a neat rustic look.
I really like how it turned out. Beautiful and cheap. Dad would be proud.
Painting the Chick Coop & Run
Last came the paint.
I really debated between going crazy (like hot pink with orange accents) or making it match the house. I wanted something that would feel unique and special, but still make our yard look nice.
I went with a semi-transparent gray for the run, and a full-color grayish blue for the coop. I’m pleased with how it turned out!
(Sidenote – I have my recycled blue jean planter hanger on the left side of the coop. It’s nothing fancy, but I think it looks nice there.)
Here’s a shot of inside the chicken run, so you can see the coop from the window-side.
And finally, here’s the picture that sums up the warm fuzzy feelings of backyard chicken ownership. This is Owl, our talkative alpha hen. :)