Reconfigurable chicken housing

We discovered that brooding chicks in your house is risky business. Specifically, each night they were at risk of being thrown one by one out the window. My patience of having them in the house was fading fast. The little baby chicks had gotten into the habit of having mosh pit wars all night long. There would be crashing, loud peep screaming, wing flapping ninja showdowns, and incessant wood pecking sounds on the cardboard walls. It usually started around 2:30 in the morning and would continue the whole bloody night. My best friend became a pillow wrapped around my head so I couldn’t hear the cacophony.

Things were indeed becoming desperate at our house.

As tensions rose, Lee worked faster on a reconfigurable chicken house idea he had been mulling on for some time. The plan was to build a semi-portable coop that could fill many roles. We wanted it to act as a brooding house, a coop for small chicks, a roosting house for hens, and possibly as a goose hut. It needed to be light enough that we could move it around the property, and no more then 4 feet wide so it could fit through our garden gate.

First, the base was constructed.

The back wall and sides were erected.

While we debated over a few coop issues I made sure to give the inside a couple of coats of Kilz.

We decided on a removable roof so we could stand up when cleaning it out.

The red middle panel on the coop is screwed into place. If we want to use it for a goose house later, it will become the entrance. It can also be removed to facilitate easier cleaning of the deep litter.

The roof lifts off quite easily with two people. It has lag screws at each end to prevent it from flying off in windy conditions.

The windows are removable, covered with hardware cloth, and easily swing open. There is a latch on both windows. When the chicks get bigger and are let out to free range, we will just remove the windows. They will then simply jump into the coop to reach the roosts. For now, a heat lamp hangs off the center beam and there is a notch in the back for the electrical cord to exit. Since the chicks are still little we are just using a small feeder and waterer. However, the coop has C.R.A.P. compatible rails at each end from which we can suspend a larger feeder and waterer. When it becomes a hen house, we’ll suspend perches from these rails instead.

If this design works out, we have a complementary structure planned to act as a range shelter / feeder / water / nesting station. In the short term, we need to start on the transport rig so we can move the chickens out to a pen in the garden.

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16 Responses to Reconfigurable chicken housing

  1. that is so cool..once again skill rules the day. Looks pretty nice..and I am sure the ninja chicks will love the color scheme! Why do you guys always have to make things look so good..A* reads your blog and constantly says ‘..why didn’t we do it like that?’..the pressure of it all!

    • robin says:

      Ah, thanks. I suddenly realized that those bright white panels under the windows may not be such a good idea with dirty hen feet. Lee says the secret to making something look good is a coat of paint. lol. We really hope this design works out.

  2. Rae says:

    What a great idea! And it looks good too ­čÖé

    I hear ya on the birds in the house AND the midnight battles. Lol. After two sets of chicks and then geese in the house, our meat birds and turkeys are in the shop! Woohoo!

    • robin says:

      I am loving the peace and quiet every night. I can’t believe that we had those chicks in our house for almost a month.

  3. Jude says:

    I had to read your story to our son. He had our baby chicks stay in his room for their in the house time. It was fun in the beginning when they were cute and fuzzy but as they grew, yep, he fully relates to the mosh pit. LOL

    • robin says:

      HA! Yeah it is fun in the beginning. I think by the end of the first week it starts getting old fast.

  4. Pheobe says:

    Nice job you guys! That’s pretty spiffy. How many chickens do you have now? Will this house them all or just the new ones?
    I spend a great deal of care keeping the chickens OUT of my garden. I am wondering what your strategy is going to be for chickens in your garden. You must be going to move them around tractor style?
    As you know I gave up on that method. Our ground is just too bumpy.
    On my next post I am writing about having a broody hen raise our meaty chicks. It has worked great so far. I know just what you mean about those noisy, stinky little buggers and I did not want to do the cardboard box thing ever again because of it!

    • robin says:

      Pheobe you make a good point about the chicks in our garden. We usually just cordon them off with electrical netting. It works with our current chicken fatties but with these lighter breeds they may just try flying over it. So we decided we should move these new chickens into the original chicken pen (that we kept the pigs in) and that way there would be no reward for them escaping. There are two areas in the garden, one in the fruit tree run and one in the back in case we wish to rotate where the garden is, that we don’t plant veggies in yet so it’s free range fun time for the chickens.

      The new coop will house the new chickens unless we decide to mingle the current flock when everyone is older. There are 27 new chickens plus our current 9 old hens. The 27 will be cut almost into half when we cull out most of the boys. A few of the old hens are also going to be culled. I so want a broody hen to take care of the chicks next time.

  5. Lynn says:

    The chicken coop is amazing! Good work? The chicks are now teenagers, aren’t they? Did you get rid of all your old chickens?. I kinda wish that we had a movable chicken coop, so we could put up temp fencing and move the chickens around. Our current chicken pen is pretty rough looking. Sometimes I go out there with a shovel just to mix up the dirt in the pen.

    Enjoy your peace and quiet – oh, wait, you’re having renovation done on the house, so it’s probably not that quiet! But at least that doesn’t happen at 2:30AM!!!

    • robin says:

      Thanks Lynn. I love not having them wake me up all night long!

      The chicks are around a month old now. They sure grew fast. We still have our old 9 hens but we are going to cull a few. I think I just caught a chronic egg eater so there is going to be one less chicken very soon. She has been trashing eggs left and right. The current place we have our old hens has green grass in it year round. The old chicken pen we are going to put our new chicks in will get turned into a dirt lot. Its so much smaller and shaded it can’t support animals in it for very long.

  6. Genius! We need something like that. With chickens, ducks, and turkeys, we find ourselves constantly repurposing housing. This could be the duck house in the spring, and the turkey brooder in the summer. And then, if we get meat chickens …

    But I have to say, slow learner though I am, I did already absorb rule number one about raising animals: No livestock in the house!

    • lee says:

      Yeah, if it works out I suspect we’ll end up with several of them.

      Unfortunately, we still haven’t learned rule number one! It’s been just over a week, and now we have a duck in a brooder box in the house. Sigh.

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