Nathan’s DIY coop
A kitchen designer’s creative chicken house
Having kept chickens now for quite a few years, and being naturally concerned for their welfare, I find it very frustrating that chicken houses often fall short of some of the fundamental requirements needed to keep chickens comfortable and healthy. My solution was to make my own chicken house. It is built on legs to provide shelter for the birds from rain and too much sun and to stop rats from making nests below the house. Experience has shown that chickens unfortunately attract rats and they will make their home beneath the house if they can. Rats carry disease and take chicks. They will eat
through a chicken house to get inside.
The shingle roof is treated with a creosote equivalent every year to make it unsavoury for mites. You can see that the nest box is detachable. This is so that it can be easily cleaned. I have found that sometimes a clumsy chicken can break an egg resulting in a gooey mess in the box. In this house the boxes can be simply lifted off and hosed out.
I pushed the box into its slot place and locked it into place with metal hooks. The nest box is higher than the chicken house floor because the elevated position gives my girls privacy when laying.
Next in are the perches. These are positioned higher than the nest boxes as chickens prefer to roost as high as they can, which makes sense for a bird which originated among the predators of Asian jungles! If the nest boxes are higher than the perches they are likely to stay in there instead!
To protect your birds’ feet from problems such as bumblefoot, and to keep them comfortable, perches should be approximately 50mm x 50mm and have rounded edges.
The perches in my house slot together to form a square just below the roofline and can be easily removed for cleaning. Note the rounded edges. I made a vent at either end of the
house and very importantly these are well above the perches. Chickens need fresh air to remain healthy but do not like drafts! A lattice grid prevents small birds using the house and depositing unwanted mites, lice and pathogens. A purpose-made vent cover is kept in the house for the very coldest of days and nights, this is held in place when in use by wooden swivels.
Access to the perches is made via a ladder. This also prevents the birds from injuring themselves when jumping down. And yes, they love using it. With the sides in place the house is almost complete. I made a side door for easy access and this has proved very useful for removing birds one by one when checking for and treating ailments. The sides can be lifted off leaving the flat floor which can be easily swept out into a wheelbarrow and washed with disinfectant. Now just to add bedding!
Nathan Levick with his hand-built hen house
The various elements of Nathan’s chicken house
The business end of the house
The ramp is higher than the nest box opening to stop eggs and straw falling onto the floor of the house A detachable nest box
A lattice grid prevents small birds using the house and depositing unwanted mites, lice and pathogens
Perches should be approximately 50mm x 50mm and have rounded edges