Thursday, October 28, 2010

Repurposing Wasted Space in the Coop

I have splinters in my fingers, soreness in my shoulders, pain in my butt muscles gluteas maximus fanny, and satisfaction in my heart.

Lately, i have had some serious chicken management issues .  I got a little carried away with my incubator, without consideration for where i would house all these babies when they started growing up.  Right now i have 57 chickens, 33 of which are recent hatches who refuse to go to the coop to sleep.  So every night, i have to collect them and put them someplace safe to sleep.  This is an evening ritual which quickly grows old.

Also it has a solution.

Once a chicken recognizes a certain place as home, he or she will go back to that place to sleep.  Happily, one can teach a chicken where home is by locking it into "home" for about a week.  After that, she will go home at dusk unless something happens to sort of reset her "home" button.

Many of these chickens will be butchered when they grow older, but in the meantime...
I want all the chickens to see the coop as home, but i don't want to lock the adult chickens, who have a well established home understanding, into "home" for a week, with 33 youngsters.  That seems cruel to everyone involved.

Thus, i have been pondering.

In addition to our current chaos, we are also putting in place a plan to hatch youngsters every ten weeks, most of whom will eventually be butchered or sold.  So this problem is going to be ongoing, though hopefully not ever quite as chaotic as it is right now.  My incubator is now on a schedule - not just willy nilly.

Thus i have pondered further.

Then it came to me.  Praise God that He cares about how i house my chickens!  I think this idea might be helpful to other chicken people.  I think it's really going to work.

This is an overhead rendition of the layout of our coop.  I needed to find a way to make a roomy enclosure in which to house chicks 24/7 for a solid week - but still not cramp the style of those pushy grown-up chickens.

Then the fantastic realization struck me!  The very best thing to do without compromising the space allotted for the adults, was to use the area under the roosting bars!


My chickens free range all day long, so the coop is only used (when all is normal) for sleeping and laying eggs.

Thus area under the roosts is completely wasted space, and when the chickens do use it, they generally get pooped on by other chickens.  And that's never good (especially when the chickens have been eating mulberries).

So this morning, i got up and got to work.

I put a "poop board" under the roosts to act as a roof for the babies, and then, inspired by my curtains (lovely curtains), i made four separate panels of framed chicken wire that can all be moved around independently just by lifting.  SO nice!  They're not attached to anything, and that makes clean up and rearrangement much simpler.

Now, i am not a carpenter.  I may be many things, but carpenter is really not one of them.  I am however, resourceful, somewhat stubborn, and determined.  The following pictures reflect all of these things - and the fact that i used almost entirely previously well-used materials.

The good news:  it's all completely functional.  And that was the point.  Chickens aren't particularly picky about appearances.

And they're in it!

There are now 57 chickens in my little coop (most of them tiny), and tomorrow, i won't have to gather them up and put them back!  That's a successful day.

Many good things come from what a man says. And the work of his hands rewards him.
~ Proverbs 12:14 ~

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. 
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
~  Philipians 4:6 ~


  1. That was a great post. I am thinking about how to put your idea into use in our coop. We will be incubating and hatching chicks on a similar schedule next year, so this was very timely. Thanks!


  2. wow, that looks great!!

    pat yourself on the back cuz you're awesome :-)


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