Happy Hen Farm

The Coop

La Casa de las Gallinas

While not as elaborate as some, our coop provides a snug and secure home for our flock. Since we live in Dallas cold weather isn't really an issue for our birds, but in the event of a cold snap removeable panels fit over the windows while vents just under the roof line provide fresh air. A thick layer of straw and pine shavings provides insulation from below. When the weather is really warm we prop the large door open during the day. Sometimes we mix cedar shavings in with bedding and nesting box material to provide a natural insect repellant for our birds.

Our original intention was that this project would be a self contained unit with then hens confined to the screened space immediately in front of the coop and that we could eventually add a sitting area to the open space to the right of the chickens. Feather picking and cannibalism within the flock soon alerted us to the fact that we had calculated the required space per hen incorrectly. Hens need a total of 9 square feet per bird; we incorrectly provided a third of that. After much discussion our solution was to open the run door and allow the hens access to the adjoining garden. We knew we had to confine them in some manner so that they would not ravage the vegetable garden directly in front of them so a fence was in order.

coop fence

Matthew deserves credit for the design and and construction of a beautiful 4 foot tall cedar fence. (Here is a picture of the construction site.) He even incorporated an iron gate that I had purchased two years before in the hopes that it could be used somewhere in the yard. His first class construction has turned this area of the yard into one of my favorites.

By allowing the chickens and turkeys to circulate freely during the day we are taking a risk. We realize that hawks, cats or other predators could easily take our birds for a snack, but it was a risk we were willing to take. Our only alternative would wyandottehave been to reduce the size of our flock, and we did not want to do that. Frequent visits during the day and a nightly 'tuck-in' routine allow us to count beaks and make sure all our ladies are present. At night all doors to the coop and run are closed and locked.

Coop Construction

Matthew receives all the credit for the design and construction of our coop. By using existing plans and modifying them to suit our needs he created the perfect home for our birds. If we ever decide that we've had enough of living with chickens (not likely!) the coop can easily be converted to a potting shed.

coop frame

We provide our birds with a total of 17 linear feet of roosting space as well as 4 nesting boxes. The birds also choose to roost on top of the metal garbage cans that hold their feed. For the interior roosts we used pecan saplings that had grown in inappropriate places in the yard.

coop insidechickens

Inside the run Matthew built a cedar climbing structure to provide our birds with a change to exercise their little bird brains. Playing 'queen of the mountain' gives the birds a little extra exercise as well as the opportunity to reinforce their place in the flock hierarchy. We believe that the birds with higher status roost higher up the ladder.

Alternate Coops

Not all coops have to be as large or utilitarian as ours. Some chicken owners get very creative when designing homes for their flock. Below are two structures that started out their life as decorations in a local bar. The bar closed and they were left at the curb. Voila! Trash pickers unite! They were rescued by a local Dallas chicken fanciers group and rehabed into adorable chicken coops. We do't have photos of the finished products, but please believe us when we say the were very, very cute!

Chicken Coop

chicken coop













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