"Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral."
Frank Lloyd Wright
Since writing my last blog, I learned a valuable piece of information that completely turned my idea of the perfect coop on its head:
"The best egg is from a chicken that is mostly grass fed."
We planned on having a chicken run off our coop, but the coop was going to be stationary because of our limited amount of land. Then a friend stopped by and looked at our designated plot of land. He informed us that we had plenty of room to move a chicken tractor around for the 6 or 7 months of the year when the ground is not blanketed with snow. He keeps chickens in both a tractor & in a stationary coop and swears that the eggs from the chickens in the tractor are significantly tastier than those from in the coop with the run.
I scrapped my original ideas & went back to the drawings board. But this time, I had the privilege of hands on research. Not only did I scour the internet for chicken tractor ideas, but we "borrowed" a tractor until ours is built:
1. Put the roosting bar(s) close to the roof because the chickens like to be high up...perhaps they feel safer up there.
2. Have either a chicken wire bottom for the poop to fall through to the ground OR have a removable floor so it is easy to clean. I did not think the chickens would like the open floor but that is where they choose to sleep when in the coop at night.
3. Design it with enough square footage per chicken, both in the coop & in the run:
8-10 sq. ft in the coop
4-5 sq. ft in the run
Chicken do not like to be cramped.
4. Make it easy to get in & out of the run & coop to change water and retrieve eggs.
5. Create storage in or around the coop to keep feed & bedding.
1. Make it TOO heavy. This tractor is next to impossible to move without being attached to a motorized vehicle.
2. Attach wheels that are too small. When we lift up one end of the coop to move it, the frame at the other end digs into the ground because the wheels are too small. This inhibits the movement of the tractor.
3. Make it too HEAVY.
With this new knowledge & these inspirations:
my design unfolded:
-windows & wood from our barn
-left over roofing from our house
-branches from downed trees in our yard
A few key aspects of this new design include:
-nesting boxes inside the coop to keep the chickens warmer in the winter months.
-a clear panel in the roof for added light & a window facing east for morning light.
-a rain chain & barrel to capture water for the chickens.
-a detachable run to make the coop easier to move & to enable the coop to be placed on top of garden beds.
-a green roof on the run to keep the chickens dry during the rain & snow and for added garden.
We have half the pallets we need. Once we pick up the rest of the pallets next week, our construction will begin. Come back in a few weeks for photos of the process & our finished chicken tractor.