For myself, I have always been annoyed at “DIY” yourself articles or shows where some seasoned veteran of woodworking slickly hammers out a masterpiece, and explains that “anyone can do this in 5 minutes”. I doubt chickens care, so you won’t see coops on here that look like they were made by master dwarves out of the “Chronicles of Narnia” series. Our broilers are now in their new coop, and seem to like it. I left the heat lamp off the last two nights, and they have not seemed to mind it one bit. They are 2.5 weeks old, a little early perhaps, but I insulated the coop well and it actually warms up nice in there when all the chicks are in it. I still have our other chicks and guineas under a heat lamp at night. The broilers are growing much faster and are noticeably bigger than the other birds.
Originally I was just going to forage in our woods and create a coop with sticks, logs and twigs, however I soon tired of that. A trip to Home Depot in Kenia and about $200 later left me with everything I needed for this coop, except a window that I paid $3 for on craiglist. Considering I should be able to use this for many years, and it will be much warmer than a sticks and twigs coop, I decided this was worth the extra cost (and much quicker to build).
The coop is very simple in design, it is a 8’x8′ square. The front and back wall are framed up, and I just nailed 2×4’s between the front and back. The roof is hinged in the back, so I can prop it open to let air in or for cleaning. I sealed the corners with spray foam, and put plastic up on the inside. I considered using bag insulation, but we’ll see how the plastic works. The coop seems pretty tight. I was going to just use OSB sheeting, but plywood was only about 40 cents more a sheet so I went with that. In the dry Alaska climate exposed OSB lasts a long time, as my neighbor’s house testifies.
Chicks act different in a larger area. I noticed this right away when putting them in their new enclosure. They suddenly became much more active, running about flapping their wings, scratching in the dirt, etc. They even ate some fish scraps I threw in their pen. I was warned not to feed them much fish though, or they will taste like fish. The cornish cross are much more lazy than the freedom rangers. The black freedom rangers are by far the most active. They have a lot of spunk, and will run and jump over the larger, slower moving chicks.
So far we have not had any trouble with predators. I am worried sometime I will come home and find the coop tore apart and the birds missing. My plans are to put up an electric fence around the coop to keep bears out, but I didn’t get this up yet. The moose are calving right now, so hopefully that will keep the bears busy and away from our chickens.
Next week: We plan to try our hand at Alaska gardening.
Shane in front of the coop frame. He did not use the air nailer.
The chicks in the new coop. They were a little shy at first and stayed inside for awhile.
4 Wheelers, what would we do without them?