Nathan’s DIY coop

A kitchen de­signer’s creative chicken house

Your Chickens - - Contents -

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

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