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dream house

Now that we seem to be expanding our chicken family, I’m thinking it’s probably time to invest in a bigger, better coop. In about 10 weeks, we’ll have 3 laying hens, and I think expecting them to share one nest box is a bit much to ask. Even our two hens had some dramatic moments with this arrangement. Also, I’m sure they would appreciate a roomier, dryer pad in the winter. This local builder (Animal Houses) that I’m thinking of hiring makes these walk-in coops especially designed for Portland weather, and they look really sturdy and cute to boot… complete with 3 nesting boxes. Pretty sweet, right? Now… is the paint job worth it? It’s crazy cute. But will it protect the wood and make it last longer?

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17 thoughts on “dream house

  1. Totally cute and a total waste of money – or that’s my opinion if you’re really only buying one for extra nest boxes. We had 3 laying Isa Browns – which means they lay every day regardless – and they all laid in one nest box (we had 4 plus they free ranged so they could lay wherever they wanted). In the beginning there were 2 or 3 spots tried but all but one were inferior. If one chook was monopolising the nest box the next in line would wine and pace about and sometimes crawl in trying to share but they never laid anywhere else. I think they would have exploded rather than lay somewhere other than the proper place.

    Now we have 2 Rhode Island Reds in one coop with 4 nest boxes. Interestingly there are 2 boxes they sometimes lay in but never an egg in each. The first one chooses the auspicious box (I think they read tea leaves) and the 2nd follows suit.

    We also have 3 Isa Browns who have 2 nest boxes. One box has pretty much never even been given a look in – all 3 lay in the only suitable box. That said, a few times we’ve found an egg lying out in the open. A hen that couldn’t wait for the only suitable box or just bad manners?

    When we eventually merge our 2 tiny flocks (too much drama to consider right now) we will leave both coops for a while with the goal of getting all 5 hens and 1 rooster into the better coop so we can take out the “temp” coop (and save it for later additions or quarantines). I bet you anything all 5 will lay in 1 nest box. I’ll let you know come spring when we merge and this winter season of minimal laying is over.

    • Interesting. I guess there’s such a thing as too many choices. Actually, most of the time Gloria and Cleo were fine with sharing, but occasionally Gloria couldn’t wait (Cleo seemed to always get priority) and would lay under their roost, and it would inevitably get crushed. But there are numerous other reasons I think an upgrade is due: 1: Our little A-frame was pretty snug with just the 2 hens, if the new girls get as big as Gloria, they will be packed onto that roost like sardines. 2: Even with the tarp on during our monsoon winters, the roof would sometimes leak, and we’d have to remember to put it on, and/or try to anticipate the weather. 3: The front door is made of flimsy wood and is starting not to lay flush when closed. I’m nervous that a hungry raccoon is going to get it’s claws in there and pry it open. Also the latch sits on the wet ground and is starting to rust. 4: It would be really nice not to have to get on my knees to clean it out, and 5: I would love to be able to hang the water and food so it didn’t get dirty so easily.

      So there you have it. I think it needs to happen. It would be nice to save some $ and build it myself… but I don’t really have the know-how or trust in my own building skills. šŸ˜‰

      • Ah, then not a waste of money. It sounds sensible. We have a nice double coop that will fit our 6 chickens no problem once we merge them. Their roosting area is near the nest boxes and I clean it out standing up outside of the coop reaching in past the nest boxes. Easy. The “temp” coop (that was designed to last a couple of weeks – 1 month max) is an old table with some wood nailed on the sides, a wooden bar running across the bottom for roosting and 2 wooden boxes out front for nesting. Every morning I crawl in and clean out the o’nite mess. I really want them all in the nice double coop so I can empathise with your need of a better coop.

        The coop you’ve pictured is lovely – and who wouldn’t want it painted to make it last longer in the Portland rain šŸ™‚

    • Why do I bother pretending I have any idea about chickens at all? The very next day after I proclaimed that my Rhode Islanders only ever lay in one of 2 boxes, Henny laid in the 3rd box. It’s where I store the newspaper I put under their coop (since they NEVER lay there, it was a great storage spot). I added more paper yesterday and for whatever reason, Henny decided it was THE place to lay. I didn’t find the egg until this morning when I was putting new paper down. Why would I have checked there yesterday afternoon when I was attempting to but failed getting a single egg from my 5 hens (it is mid-winter, they are in various stages of moulting, one is very sick and one was attacked by my dog on Sunday so I’m cutting them some slack).

      So, that’s it – ignore everything I ever say about anything to do with chickens. Or dogs. Or cats. Or bees. Or gardening. Or life.

      I need a cup of tea.

      • You are too funny! Of course you know a lot, and I love learning from your (and others) experiences, and I always add plenty of of salt (yummy) for the unpredictability of life and all living things. So don’t worry about me holding you accountable for your advice. šŸ˜‰ That being said… now that I get to design my own dream coop with my Dad helping (yay!!!) I was wondering if it would be better to divide the nesting box into 2 bigger or 3 smaller spaces. Thoughts? Sounds like your girls like to share sometimes, so perhaps they’d appreciate more room? I guess I can’t really imagine them all lined up in 3 boxes laying at the same time anyway.

      • Ah, Rod is your father – I wondered who would be so generous. What a great dad!

        My advice is 3 smaller nest boxes. Chickens seem to like (ha, as if I have a clue) small spaces so they feel nice and cosy and safe when laying. My nest boxes (including the “newspaper storage box”) are right next to the 2 roosting areas (each roosting spot has 2 nest boxes hanging off the back of it. The roosting area is basically double the size of the nest boxes with a slightly higher roof and my hens NEVER lay there – guess where I’m checking for eggs today šŸ™‚

      • Ha! OK, I will look up some sizing guidelines. Thanks! And yes, I have the best Dad ever. He’s building his own gorgeous house right now, (which is why I hated to ask for his help and distract him with this) but I honestly couldn’t ask for anyone better. šŸ™‚

  2. Looks like a great coop. It is very similar to our lower coop in set-up and we really have been pleased with it. The main difference is ours has exterior mounted nest boxes so there is more indoor floor space. And ours looks to be a bit bigger too. You can see pictures on my blog. Go to the chicken tab at top.
    I think it will meet your needs well.

    • Oh yeah! I remember your coop! This looks just perfect too, except the wire will need to be a finer gauge on ours, as the raccoons in our neighborhood could reach right through those holes. I love the exterior boxes though. Thanks for the inspiration! And my sweet wonderful Dad just offered to take time away from building his own “real” dream house to help us build this, so we can customize away!

  3. If you could wait till September, I could build one for you :). Staining is preferable to painting, imo, since it won’t peel, but I know it’s not as cute šŸ™‚

    • Seriously? That’d be awesome! This guy wouldn’t be able to deliver until the 1st or 2nd week in Sept. anyway, and I’m sure you could do an even better job! I think anytime within the next 4-8 weeks would be perfect! And staining would be just fine with me. šŸ™‚

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