Monday, July 23, 2012

The Chickens Have a Home!

It’s FINALLY done.   Yahoo!  The chickens have been in their new humble abode for about 2 months and seem to be thriving.  We are down to 4 chickens from our original 7.  Three ended up being roosters (2 of our Silkie’s and our Barred Rock) which is a bummer, we had grown so attached them (will post more about that later).   The jury is still out on one of 1 of the Silkie’s and our Easter Egger is looking a little roosterish too, I’m hoping I’m wrong. 

For awhile it seemed like the project that wouldn’t end.  By far, my least favorite part of this project was the hardware cloth, yuck.  It is piece of mind though knowing they are safe and sound which is totally worth it, just a complete pain to install.  Knock on wood, there hasn’t been anything trying to get in so far.  We buried the cloth about 10’ down.

We used the plans from The Garden Coop for our run and purchased the Omlet Eglu Cube for the coop.  I really can’t say enough about The Garden Coop plans and the structure itself.  It looks awesome, it really does.  It was great having a supplies list and measurements.   We extended the length of the run to 12’ since we had room.  I thought maybe my husband and I could do it ourselves, but luckily my brother-in-law offered his help which made the process a whole heck of a lot easier as he is quite handy.  Not having any major construction experience I think we could probably have built it on our own, but it would have taken a whole lot longer.  John, the owner from The Garden Coop, was very helpful whenever we had any questions and e-mailed me back very quickly.  Can’t recommend The Garden Coop enough, really!!

In addition, I really like the Eglu Cube, cleaning it is super easy and they seem to like it.   It really is a lot bigger than it looks.  I did some modifications which I’ll post about later until they start laying.  I didn’t want them sleeping in the nest area which I guess is common, so I took the separator out until we are closer to when they give us some golden eggs.  That’s our running joke as the cost of this chicken experiment was not a cheap one, so we just know golden eggs are coming our way soon J

We have had record heat this summer here and quite honestly the Cube stays pretty cool.  To look at it you would think it would be an oven but amazingly, the temperature is much cooler inside then on the outside.

Here’s a picture diary of building our run – enjoy!

This is the before space.  This was a perennial garden that I moved in the spring.
The boys hard at work.
Framing all done.
Structure was moved to its final home.
Burnt grass from the roofing panels on a 90 degree day.  Within an hour grass was fried.
Coming together - SLOWLY...
Made roof panels per suggestion from Northwest Edible blog
Awesome stairs!
Attached panel from Eglu Cube I wasn't using to be able to attach Eglu's water Glug. 
Installed some shade fabric on top of roofing panels, seems to really help shade the girls.
Framed opening to Cube.
Secured the stairs to frame.
The Golden Egg door =)
All done!


  1. This turned out really well! Great work guys.

    1. Thank you so much. Your set-up was a great inspiration!

  2. Great article, how have they producing. What's the best and worst part of raising chickens? How is the noise and odor?


    Mike from Geneva, IL

    1. Thanks Mike. They just started laying in early October. With our 4 chickens we are averaging about 3 eggs a day. I didn’t think our Silkie’s would be laying as well as they are but they are laying great, just smaller eggs. I would say the absolute best thing about raising chickens came the day when I went out and picked up a warm egg from their nest. Honest to goodness what a neat experience, for me and the kids. The eggs taste awesome too - added bonus =) They really are cute. They each have their own personalities which is funny to watch. Our head hen Goldie (Buff Orpington) is a hoot, she's a moose and makes me laugh daily.

      I would say the worst part would be cleaning their coop once a week. I absolutely love the Eglu Cube though. Although it’s pricey, it makes cleaning so easy and no worries about mites or rot. Every Sunday I clean their Cube and total time is usually under 30 minutes. All in all it’s not terrible, just one more thing to do weekly. It's just dumping the dropping trays into the compost bin or garbage and cleaning off their roosts, lining the trays with newspaper and putting some new straw in their nest. I also then throw some pine shavings in their run and sprinkle some diatomaceous earth and add some sand to their sand bath and I'm done usually in under a ½ hour. The daily maintenance is very minimal. I just make sure they've got food in their feeders, oyster shell and grit, make sure they have fresh water and collect eggs! It did seem to take forever for them to lay. They all started laying around 26 weeks.

      Yesterday we had our first frost and their water was frozen. Wasn't quite prepared for that yet, but am looking into a heated waterer for winter. I think our plan for winter is to wrap the bottom ¾ of the run in plastic to give them some protection from the elements and keep the snow out.

      Noise is minimal, Goldie is the only one that can make a bit of a ruckus, but only when she can see me and knows I’m bringing food - she gets quite excited. I let the girls free range for about an hour before they go to bed each night and once they get out they talk a little bit but nothing where a neighbor would complain. I was worried about them destroying my garden and lawn, but no casualties as of yet.

      No smell whatsoever - honest! We do the deep litter method in their run which just means you keep adding pine shavings or whatever flooring you decide to use and 1 or 2x a year you shovel it all out for compost. Even with our crazy hot summer – no smell. I would have assumed there would have been some, but really nada.. By Sunday, their coop, where they sleep needs to be cleaned out but you can't smell it on the outside just when you open their egg door. You’d be shocked by how much these guys poop.

      I contemplated chickens for awhile and I’m so glad we took the plunge. It really has been a great experience so far. Please feel free to ask any more questions, happy to help. Actually next week we are going to be adding 2 more to the flock. My step son is bringing two 5 week old hens home from his high school that they hatched. Hope this integration goes well...