Nesting boxes, chicken hatch door, normal door (for us normal people), a window, old barnwood siding, and the roof. These are all additional pieces of the puzzle that will make the chicken coop closer to the final product capable of housing our 7 hens. This is the fun, glamorous part of the project where we get to make the place look cool. Before we know it, our chickens will have a place worthy of calling home. Actually, I’m pretty sure they dont care. But we do since we have to look at it everyday!
Once the walls were framed out, I started making the door. The main purpose of the door is to allow us access to the chicken coop for cleaning, etc. The chickens will have their own door, so they won’t ever use this one. That is, unless they become an escape artist when we open it. You saw a sneak peek of the door in part 1. Since the door will be a main focal point, I wanted to make it stand out and look cool. I started there and then everything else will aesthetically be modeled after the door. From all of the scrap barnwood that we have, I concocted the best henhouse door that I could think of. It’s just an old fashioned barn door. Exactly the style that Lara and I were going for with our coop.
Now, what would a henhouse be without nestboxes? Of course, you don’t really need nestboxes. Chickens will lay eggs in any place that looks inviting. It is usually a dark, quiet location. Chicken instincts are to choose a safe place for the egg. I don’t want to go looking in every dark, quiet spot in my yard every single day. I searched for enough eggs as a kid on Easter. So I’ll build some nestboxes to have a predictable, easy accessible place to gather eggs each day.
A chicken coop needs 1 nestbox for every 2-4 hens. Since we have 7 hens, we could get by with 2 nestboxes. But just in case we ever decide to add a couple hens to the flock, I’ll build 3 nestboxes. This is still within the 2-4 range anyway. As far as the actual size of the nestboxes, I’m going with about 12x12x12. This seems to be appropriate for our chickens. You don’t want them being too big because the chickens may get too comfortable and sleep in the nestboxes (and therefore poop in them). Who wants eggs that are laid in poop? Nobody.
The last major choice for the nestboxes was to build them inside or outside of the henhouse. Building them inside would be easier, but I chose outside. The main benefits of building them external are easy access to the eggs as well as increased space in the henhouse for other items. I put a door that hinges open on the back of the nestboxes. This should make it very simple to gather eggs each day without disturbing the chickens (or having them disturb me early in the morning!). For what little extra time this took, it will be well worth it in the long haul.
Now we can get in the coop and the hens have a place to lay their eggs. But how can they get into and out of their house? Answer: a chicken hatch door. This door should lock shut to keep the chickens in at night (and predators out), and also should be able to be propped open so the hens can enter and exit as they please during the day. Also, I built a little ramp for the chickens since that end of the henhouse is over a foot off of the ground.
Before putting all of the siding on, my first step was to add a window frame to accomodate the window. Why a window you ask? Good question. There are a couple of reasons. Do you ever sleep in one of those hotels with the really thick curtains? You shut them at night to get it nice and dark. Next thing you know, the alarm clock buzzes. “WTH? It’s pitch black and my alarm is going off?” But then you remember you are in a hotel and the curtains are closed. Well guess what? Chickens dont get alarm clocks. They get the sun. So a window let’s them know when to wake up. Another reason for a window is to heat up the henhouse in the winter. If you put the window on the south side, the sun will shine in and provide some heat.
When I was building the walls, I didn’t have the window yet. But I built them anyway figuring I would just add the window frame later. Impatient move? Yep. Do I care? Nope. I’ll look at the positive side. I got some remodeling practice. So once I got the window, I had to do some remodeling. The chicken coop isn’t even finished yet and I was already remodeling! But the window needed a frame, so I built one into the walls. I went with a barn sash and nailed it directly to the frame/wall. Some people put them on hinges for ventilation. Since I already had plenty of ventilation up top with the mesh wire, I opted out of the hinges.
Ahhh the roof. They say there are many ways to skin a cat (I don’t know first hand, I promise!). I’m thinking there are just as many ways to build a roof. Shingles or metal? Gable or single slope? Some go with a gable style (like this). Even within that gable style, there are still multiple methods of construction. Trusses, no trusses, the pitch, etc. Since this is such a small building, I went with a simple single sloped roof. These are easier to build. Also, I chose a metal roof. Not only was it easier, but also cheaper (I didnt have to use plywood underneath) and maintenance free. No need to replace the shingles a few years down the road. This is really the way to go for a small building like this.
When putting on a metal roof, you place purlins across the rafters. This is what you will screw the metal roof down to. The screws are special screws with a rubber washer on them. This prevents water from penetrating the roof. The hardest part of the metal roof? Cutting the darned things. Turns out a circular saw with the blade turned backwards does the trick (thanks for the tip Dad). But it’s no quiet, peaceful task! I had no earplugs, so I first attempted to cut without them. When she heard the deafening screech, Lara made me put cotton balls my ears. Hmm, yeaaa. That was definitely a good idea.
So far, there has been a whole lot of work with seemingly little to show for it. But now, the siding goes on. This step goes fairly fast and finally makes the henhouse actually look like a henhouse. I had enough old barn siding to cover 2 sides and the nestboxes. I chose the sides that are most visible. For the other two sides, I went and got some cedar picket fence boards. Luckily, they were 6th tall which was just the right height. Cedar is an excellent choice for the siding. First, cedar is naturally weather resistant. Also, it has a pleasant aroma. I’m thinking this may help fight the not-so-pleasant aroma of the chickens. Wishful thinking? You tell me. I’ll find out in due time.
Now the henhouse is structurally complete. A few more finishing touches and it will be ready to go. We still need to add the roost for the hens to sleep on at night. Lara wants to add a couple of cosmetic additions. Also, we need to attach a run (pen) to the henhouse for the chickens to (safely) run around and eat every single mosquito that exists in our yard. Two wishful thoughts in one post…? Might as well think positive.
UPDATE: We have now added our roost, Lara put in her cosmetic improvements, and we also built the chicken run. Check them out! And of course, for all chicken coop related posts, just click on the chicken coop tag below.