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The Tour: The Chicken Coop

November 17th, 2012

No doubt you’ve seen glimpses of the chicken coop here and there but not in it’s entirety. From what I understand, this coop used to be the shed. It was then converted to a coop. A wooden structure in it’s natural form, it nestles quite easily into it’s surroundings and looks right at home.

It’s quite rustic and charming, buttoned up well against predators to keep the chickens safe and sound. Thankfully, there is an attached run, which is very nice because we can leave the chickens for a while without worry (though we do have the neighbor come check on them when we do).

There’s storage on one side, it came pre-filled with a variety of feeders, waterers and other interesting things, some of which we are not quite sure what they are for, no doubt we’ll figure it out.

The interior is good enough for the chickens, though we might reconfigure a bit to make cleaning a little easier. The ladies seem to like it well enough as is.

We need to build a few new nesting boxes for them, these are showing their wear. The chickens don’t seem to mind, though with the waning daylight hours and molting they’re not laying much at the moment.

In the spring, I plan on whitewashing the walls and scrubbing up the windows to brighten it up. If I have time, I may try to tackle the windows yet this fall. I’m sure the chickens would appreciate the extra sunlight!

Someday we might end up building a newer larger coop, but this one is quite functional until we do. It will most likely be used as a breeding coop if we go that direction. It’s certainly nice to have such a structure already in place. Now we can focus on other infrastructure like planting lots of fruit trees and other forage for the chickens. Next year we plan on getting a whole flock of new chickens as well.

Do you have any recommendation for a variety of chicken for us to get next spring?

Other Stops on the Tour:
The Driveway
The Tour: Chicken Coop

24 Comments to “The Tour: The Chicken Coop”
  1. Jaye on November 17, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Do you want chickens specifically for laying or processing or both? Two factors to take into consideration. Also, while I live in the south, so my considerations go towards warm weather, I understand that some breeds fare better in colder weather. Also, as you have the time, definitely consider some of the rarer breeds that might suit your needs too.

    I have layers and pets and are very happy with what I have:

    *Australorp – great layers, good disposition and longevity
    *Dominique – great layers, good disposition
    *Silver Laced Wyandotte – great layers, good disposition
    *Plymouth Barred Rocks – great layers, good disposition
    *New Hampshire Reds – great layers, good disposition
    *Gold and Silver Polish – poor layers, delightful disposition, beautiful birds, but must be monitored as they have restricted vision with their plumage and are often targeted.

    Reply to Jaye's comment

  2. Ann on November 17, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I bought some Easter Eggers from Meyer Hatchery and I love these little girls. They have these fluffy beards that make them look owl-y and they are very prolific layers for me.

    Next year I am going to be getting some Black Copper Marans. They have those really dark dark brown eggs. So that gives me even more colors of eggs to collect. Plus they have eggs with the tightest matrix of calcium in their shells making them impervious to any bacteria entering the egg. Not sure why that matters to me since I collect the eggs every day and get them right into the frig. If they are laying heavy I give eggs away so I never am eating eggs that are very old.

    There is a breed that I want badly to try. Euskal Oiloa chickens are still fairly rare here but they are known to be great dual purpose birds. But best of all, they are known for being the most friendly chickens ever and make the best pets. None of the chicks I have now are all that friendly. They come for treats and follow me in the garden but that is about it. I do know where I can get some hatching eggs next year and may try to hatch my own.

    Reply to Ann's comment

    • Susy on November 17, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      I’ve been thinking about trying the Black Copper Marans too. We did find a farm down the road that has some very interesting rare breeds, I might try to score some of those next spring.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Grannie M on November 17, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I have six boxes (all the same) for my chickens to lay eggs in and they will only lay in one or two of them. They develop a preferred box which changes from time to time, but they will cackle and carry on and double up in one box before they will use one of the other boxes. Having more boxes may not change anything in your coop.

    I also had trouble with predators (mink) digging under my fence (similar to yours) and under the building to get to my hens. I solved that problem by burying metal flashing along the pen and building just leaving a couple inches showing at the top against the fence and under the gate.

    I have a variety of chickens and not a lot of luck with winter harvesting of eggs, but the Single Comb Brown Leghorn and the Araucana have been the two most likely for me to keep laying. This year it seems to be the Light Brahma though that hasn’t molted yet.

    Reply to Grannie M's comment

  4. John on November 17, 2012 at 10:18 am

    I am quite happy with my Jersey Giants. They are good layers and much less aggressive to each other than the Rhode Island Reds that I had previously.

    Reply to John's comment

  5. Annie on November 17, 2012 at 10:20 am

    I currently have Speckled Sussex, New Hampshires, Barred Rocks, Partridge Rocks and Brown Leghorns. All are good layers but the Sussex are my favorites because they are so sweet and funny. Love to sit on your lap if you will pet them. The Hamps and the Rocks have a good disposition too, as Jaye noted, just not quite as friendly. The Brown Leghorns are extremely flighty and don’t do well confined. I raised the Cornish Crosses for meat one year and they are sweet birds. You do have to watch for leg issues but they are very “chickeny”, despite what you hear. They scratch and forage just like any other chicken. As was also mentioned, I built 8 boxes for my hens and they all want to use the same 2. lol!

    Reply to Annie's comment

  6. KimP on November 17, 2012 at 10:47 am

    We keep coming back to Aracaunas. In our cold climate (zone 5ish), they lay the most consistently all winter of any we have tried. Also, we haven’t ever had any trouble with the hens and our children – something we especially looked for when they were small. The roosters? ‘Nother story. But I think they all get a little cocky. :)

    Reply to KimP's comment

  7. Deb on November 17, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I would say go for the breeds that do well in the north. I’m getting some in spring and will go that way with dual breeds so extra babies can be put in the freezer when old enough. If you want hens to go broody then lean that way. I’d be interested too. I don’t have children at home so that isn’t an issue if they aren’t real tame.

    Reply to Deb's comment

  8. June on November 17, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I’ve had an Australorp for the last 4 years up here in Montreal. She’s done quite well with the cold – the coop goes to -5C in the winter. She’s only just stopped laying the fall and she’s now ‘retired’. We call her our ‘grandma’ chicken – the matriarch of the family.

    Reply to June's comment

  9. Amy on November 17, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    My faves were Black Sex Links (very calm and productive), Easter Eggers and Rhode Islamd Reds. My least favorites were Red Sex Links (anxious and prone to picking) and Wyandottes (gorgeous but annoyingly broody). We don’t have a flock currently, but when we do again we’re going small (3-4 hens, no roos).

    Reply to Amy's comment

  10. judym on November 17, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    This is our first year with chickens but it’s been great. We bought Golden buffs (comets, Red Star). They are one of the smaller standard breeds but lay like the big girls. Because they are smaller they eat less. They are great for beginners. Next time we will expand to the other breeds we’d like to have. Leaning toward the heritage breeds. Will send you a catalog from where we bought ours since I have an extra one. Not necessarily to buy from there but it describes every breed they sell along with all the info you’d want to know about each breed. Very informative!

    Reply to judym's comment

  11. stacy on November 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Woohoo! I found your blog again! I had your RSS feed coming to Google Reader and the posts stopped coming back in the summer. I thought you stopped blogging…glad I just saw you on Facebook.

    Can’t give chicken suggestions for your area because I’m on the west coast. I have a Black Copper Maran, Rhode Island Reds and an Araucana. They lay year round except when molting…although we get a bit of a slowdown during the winter.

    Reply to stacy's comment

  12. Margie Clyde on November 17, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I have a flock of (20) golden comets, and am very happy with them. There is no rooster, which eliminates many problems. This breed is for colder, unheated hen houses-their combs are smaller and don’t freeze, like the larger comb hens do. They are good layers of large brown eggs .I am wanting them to slow down on laying, as I am done with Farmer’s Market for the year and no longer have a market for my eggs, but they just keep laying away!

    Reply to Margie Clyde's comment

  13. Rachel on November 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    We have had great success with New Hampshire Reds, including one that was seen being carried off by a fox and presumed dead, but returned the next day….

    Reply to Rachel's comment

  14. Hannah Stoller on November 17, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    How are those girls ?? It is probably cold in there !

    Reply to Hannah Stoller's comment

  15. Gail Robinson on November 17, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Hi Susy

    I had a small flock of 4 hens for my back yard, a Light Sussex, Rhode Island Red, Ancona and a Barnevelder. The Light Sussex is a lovely girl to look at and quite friendly but she is very broody. I found the Rhode Island Red to be very aggressive and definately at the top of the pecking order :) The Ancona again beautiful looking bird and laid lovely white eggs although a bit flighty and the Barnevelder would have to be my favourite, great disposition, regular layer and friendly. I went for heritage breeds as I had heard that they hybrids have reproductive issues when they hit the two year mark as they are bred to lay every day and then they’re done. My Rhode Island Red recently died from this and apparently they breed them over this way as battery hens in NZ….which I didn’t know! My chickens are definately for eggs and are pets now so they won’t end up on the table but good luck with choosing as there are so many beautiful birds out there. Congrats on the new house too…..looks like it’s going to be an amazing adventure :)

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  16. Rocky Top Farm on November 18, 2012 at 2:01 am

    We have a variety of heirloom chickens. Some of our favorites are: Buckeyes, good layer, dual purpose, speckled Sussex, beautiful heirloom chicken, good layer, great mommas, they give me chicks every year! Look like they have snow flakes on their feathers. Sicilian buttercups are beautiful, good layers, slightly smaller but not bantams. Blue Andalusians are beautiful, great layers. They have lovely, long red combs and lay white eggs. I enjoy having a mixed flock of various breeds, just fun to see all the varied beauty and all seem to lay really well. Always love my americaunas also. Love the green eggs. Let us know what you breeds you choose! Would love to see pics :)

    Reply to Rocky Top Farm's comment

  17. andrea on November 18, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Love talking chickens. When selecting varieties, we went for good layers and nice disposition. We’re in MA, so went for hardy northern varieties, too. Here is what we currently have:

    buff orpingtons – friendly, prone to becoming broody
    rhode island red – productive, hardy
    black australorp – mod-productive, hardy
    welsummer – pretty dk brown eggs, skittish (she was a rescue from a friend and had almost been killed by a raccoon, so that might be the reason!)
    easter eggers – beautiful eggs, not as productive, not particularly friendly, but nice addition to the flock

    We’ve heard great things about speckled sussex, so will probably add some of those in the future.

    Reply to andrea's comment

  18. Rocky on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    How many cheekiness do you have, and how old are they? If you want good layer, I would suggest Red Star variety. Our 4 red stars have pave produced over 300 eggs each in their first two years even throughout coldest months of winter here in Maine. They are “sex-link” hybrid, so will not breed true in next generation. So, if breeding is in your plan, it will not work.

    Reply to Rocky's comment

    • Susy on November 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      We have 8 chickens and I think half of them are over 2 years old the rest are young.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  19. louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife on November 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    When we restocked our Fort Chicken in September, we went for Rhode Island Red crosses (specifically the ISA Brown hybrid) again. They were the first type of chicken we got and they were incredibly hardy, productive and both docile & friendly. None of the other pure breeds we’ve tried have come close to that – even other hybrids.

    They’re boring little red birds compared to pretty pure breeds or other prettier hybrids and if we get more space, I’d like some prettier birds for diversity/supporting old breeds – but for a small backyard flock, I think they’re ideal. We had a 100% lay rate today, a month away from the shortest day of the year and with the older ones coming out of moult – can’t ask for better than that!

    Reply to louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife's comment

    • Susy on November 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      These are the same chickens we have, though they’re not laying so well right now. My guess is because a few just molted and because about half of them are older ladies. We’ll see what happens in the spring.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  20. Five Monkeys and a Chick on November 19, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    I love my chickens also! I have converted an 8×10 shed for them. They love it!! I use plastic totes for nesting boxes. Two hens will be in there at the same time. And the best part? EASY TO CLEAN!!

    Reply to Five Monkeys and a Chick's comment

  21. AGinPA on November 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    We love our Buff Orpingtons. They are quite mellow, lay fairly well and do fine in our PA winters without any added heat. We have also had Barred Rocks who had a little more personality than the Orpingtons. They were curious and adventurous and laid a little better than the Orpingtons. We are very happy with both breeds.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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