Friday, June 30, 2017

4 coop additions I can't live without!

Admittedly, I have a lot of chicken coops. 5 to be exact. I have all different sizes and shapes of coops. In all my chickens coops I have my favorite additions in each one. Each coop has things about them that I love and things I absolutely hate, but there are 4 additions we've made to our coops that I just can't live without! 

chicken coop additions

Whether it be ease of cleaning, predator protection or a time convenience, every one of these 4 coop additions makes taking care of my chickens just a bit easier. Now don't get me wrong, I like extras like sitting areas in the coop and window boxes but those aren't really things I need...these are!

Washable nest boxes: whether you buy or build your nest boxes you want them to be easily cleaned. Inevitably you'll have a chicken decide to sleep in the nest box and poop all inside it. If you're lucky it'll land on the bedding and you can just scoop it out. If not, they'll manage to smear it every where! 

Wood nest boxes are difficult to clean and sometimes take days to dry out afterwards. This is why I prefer plastic. I have 4 of these plastic nest boxes which I use in my largest coop. If you want to go the free route, you could make these nest boxes from kitty litter containers. I've also seen nest boxes made from milk crates and 5 gallon buckets.

For our first coop my husband built a beautiful wooden nest box with 4 separate nesting areas. It was really great but the chickens pooped all over the top and inside, and the more I cleaned it (power washed) the more ratty the wood looked. We replaced it with plastic boxes and repurposed it into firewood! Unfortunately there is literally nothing else you can do with old poop splattered wood.

If you absolutely cannot switch to plastic nest boxes, having a sloped roof on the top of wooden nest boxes discourages roosting on top (and pooping). I also find that adding curtains with tiebacks like these ones from Fresh Eggs Daily makes it easy to block off the nest boxes at night so the girls don't sleep in them.

Automatic pop doors: These are a lifesaver! Especially if they open out to a covered run. We have had automatic coop doors for quite a while. I really want to say they're 5 years old...but they could be 6. They are powered by a solar panel and have a sensor which tells the door when to open and when to close.  

Every morning the automatic pop doors open at dawn and every evening they close around sunset. They're set to reopen a minute after they close then stay open one more minute before closing again in case any chickens are still outside.

These give me so much peace of mind when I can't get home at night to close the coops up. We live in the woods so predators like fox and coyotes are always a possibility and they will waltz right into the coop if they get a chance!

coop door

Covered run: Ideally your run will have a solid cover to give protection from the sun and rain as well as aerial predators. On the large runs we went with corrugated steel roof panels from Lowes. These were easy to screw onto the wooden frame of the run, although they were a pain in the rear to cut! There are PVC versions that would be much easier to cut though, and they were cheaper when we purchased ours. These roofing panels hold up really well in winter even under the weight of the snow.

Not all runs can support a solid roof and I do have a few runs that simply have deer netting (or bird netting) strung across the top. It does a fine job of keeping out hawks and other birds of prey. If you decide to go this route, use this bird netting hack to keep the net from drooping or getting caught on things in the middle. 

The main downside of deer netting is that it doesn't keep out the weather. You might want to remove it in winter as a particularly heavy, wet snow can drag it down and cause it to rip.

Water pan: I talk about this in How to keep the floor dry under a waterer. All you need is a giant pan or even a boot tray to place under your water container. I use a metal water heater pan under large drinkers or heated dog bowls. I have an old dog crate tray under the 3 gallon waterers. I've used a boot tray under the 1 or 1.5 gallon waterers. It pretty much doesn't matter what you use as long as it keeps the water from sitting on the coop floor. 

When the wood gets wet under a water container it's not exposed to air so it cannot evaporate and dry out. Wet wood eventually rots costing a whole lot more then a boot tray to repair!
 
 Ok, so I admit these aren't thing you absolutely can't live without. They are coop additions that will make your life easier for various reasons...except that was too long of a title so I had to come up with a way to shorten it a bit! 😉 So what coop additions can you not live without?

~L
  
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10 comments:

  1. Very nice. We have used the Kitty Litter boxes and they work great. I love this play house conversion! We have an old plastic play house that I am converting into a rabbit pen so we can move it easily when we need to, also gluing screen in the windows to keep out the cats. I will be needing a couple more pens to split up our chickens when they get bigger and we want to breed more. I have 3 different kinds. Most will be layers. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks! Ohh, you're gonna love that playhouse! So, so easy to clean! I'd love to see it when you're done!

      Thanks for stopping by!
      ~L

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  2. I go to the dollar store and buy plastic dishwashing tubs for nesting boxes. They're the perfect size and my hens take to them quite easily.

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    1. That is a really great idea, and they're washable! Thanks for sharing!

      ~L

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  3. where do you buy the automatic doors?

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  4. I noted you didn't give a link to the automated pop doors. Did you make them yourself or are they something you can purchase? And did you program them yourself for the late bird entry or was that also something in the purchased system? Thanks so much for this post. I plan to begin raising chickens next spring and need all the info I can get my hands on before then!

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    1. We ordered them online. The doors were programmed when we got them and I can't seem to find a brand name on them now. There are several brands available online though.
      Good luck with your chickens. You're going to love them!
      Lisa

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  5. I love these! Our next goal is to put in solar lighting. Not just to have the option of increasing lay production, but to make it easier to see when we have snake issues. Thanks, for sharing!
    Anne

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  6. I"m curious on the automatic door openers as well!

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  7. Our neighbor just got chickens and I see he is trying to build a chicken coup for the winter. I will have to give him some of your ideas which sound really useful and purposeful. Tweeted. Congratulations on being featured on Homestead blog hop. Have a healthy happy & blessed day!

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