First time chicken coop builders, start here!

There’s a lot to consider in building your first chicken coop, and this infographic walks you through some major points. At the very end, I’ll discuss some of my major points for the best possible coop design.

Click To Enlarge


checklist-small

These Chicken Coop Plan Must Haves Brought To

You By

ChickenCheckLists.com

There are some things I did right with my coop, and others I’d change if I did it all over again.

Things I did right on my coop:
1.) Lots of ventilation: in the summer when it’s hot, I have two doors on the front of the coop that can latch open, providing full coop ventilation. I also have a back window and roof vents with directional flaps to keep wind out of direct it in.
2.) Predator proof: my design was inspired by paranoia that something would get in and kill my chickens. I buried hardware cloth 2 ft underground and out, covered the edges of the run with heavy pavers to prevent digging, and covered the top of the run to protect from hawks.
3.) Covered run: I used polycarbonate sheeting to cover the run, which allows the chickens to run around in the rain without getting wet. Also, prevents mud, which combined with chicken poo produces a nasty, smelly, potentially dangerous mix.
4.) Nest box per bird: some people say it isn’t necessary, but I’ve seen all 3 hens pack into a box at the same time. I wouldn’t want them to have to queue up in line and wait.
5.) Easy to clean: this is the biggest one for me. I designed this so I wouldn’t have to stoop to clean, or climb inside, or shovel it out. Instead, I’m able to use a bucket and brush to sweep all the litter out, and I’ve used rubber liners for the floor that I can remove and hose down. All of this makes cleaning super quick and easy.

Things I’d change:
1.) Bigger: I’d make the run much, much bigger. Though chickens can take confinement very well, and they’ve got more space than some, I know they’d enjoy the extra room to roam.
2.) Elevation: I picked a low spot in my garden to place the coop, mainly because it was out of the way. Unfortunately, because it’s at a low spot, the run gets wet when snow melts in spring.
3.) Bad nesting box door: the nesting box door is heavy, has no way to stay up unless you’re holding it, and it collects water due to the design. That water then drains ever so slowly into the coop. I think this is a critical flaw and we’ll be changing it this year.

If you haven’t already, follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FerndaleBackyardChickens

Advertisements

1 year down, many more to go!

2ndyearcooprenewal
First and second year coop licenses/inspection approvals

Second year coop license! Coop license renewal went well, and the hens behaved themselves in front of the city inspector.

While the inspector was out, we showed him our water heater (a cookie tin with a light bulb in it), explained why we have plastic wrapped around the run (wind break during cold, snowy spells), and explained why the hens weren’t laying (not enough daylight hours).

While he was out, he mentioned that we were the first coop to fill out renewal papers and be inspected. In case any Ferndalians read this, just a reminder:  your coop license expires Dec 31 every year, no matter when you got approved.  The renewal process is very straight forward: fill out your packet of information just as you did when you originally registered, minus the coop drawings, and take it back to the city clerks office with your check for $35.  Bingo, bammo, done deal.  You can schedule your inspection at that time as well, which is what I did- I wanted it done and over with as soon as possible.

The inspector mentioned there are a few other homes in Ferndale now with registered coops… I’m really interested in contacting the other registered coop owners to see if they’d be interested in planning a coop tour in spring.  Something informational, with handouts on chicken keeping at every coop- might be a nice way to get more people registered and on board with it.

I also started a Facebook page, just to make it easier to get the word out about Ferndale chicken issues: http://www.facebook.com/FerndaleBackyardChickens

as well as a google+ page to help us gain some more visibility:

https://plus.google.com/b/103161687709305818453/103161687709305818453/posts

Here’s hoping 2013 will be a great year!

Coverage of Ferndale’s First Legal Coop- Ferndale 115

Source:  http://ferndale115.com/nuevo/2012/05/18/ferndales-first-legal-chicken-coop/

Ferndale’s First (Legal) Chicken Coop

(Crystal A. Proxmire, The Ferndale 115 News, May 15th, 2012 edition)

Big Bossy, Little Bossy and Little Girl seem happy.  The six week old Buff Orpingtons strut around their sandy front yard, playing like sister chickens do: nudging, pecking, cuddling, running, rolling around in the sand and darting back up the wooden ramp to their luxury penthouse, aka Ferndale’s first legal chicken coop.

Laura Mikulski was the organizer of the Ferndale backyard chicken movement.  After meeting other suburban families that keep backyard chickens, Mikulski wanted to bring the option to Ferndale.  She researched backyard chickens and lobbied City Council to pass an ordinance allowing them.

After several months of research and consideration, theFerndale City Council approved an ordinance that allows individuals to have a chicken coop on their property as long as they follow certain rules.  Homeowners are limited to three hens. Roosters are not allowed.

The requirements of the ordinance are:

“As structured the ordinance would allow for the raising and keeping of three (3) hen chickens and no roosters. Residents would be required to receive an annual permit which would expire on December 31st of each year. Any applicant receiving a permit is required to schedule an inspection within 30 days of the permit issuance, if violations are noted at the inspection the applicant has 15 additional days to resolve the identified issues. Chickens are required to be kept in the rear yard, structures (coops) must be designed to prevent accessibility to vermin, feed must be secured in enclosed containers and compliance with the Michigan Department of Agriculture Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices for the Care of Farm Animals (GAMPS) must be maintained.”

Mikulski believes in following the law, so she waited until the process was complete. She and boyfriend Ben Wojdyla then made the plans.  With approximately $500 plus many reclaimed items, the chicken family’s new home took about two months to build

The entire coop area is surrounded with wire mesh that is tight enough to keep out rats and other predators.  The coop is topped with polycarbonate sheeting reclaimed from another project.  There is a door so people can enter, but there is also access to tend the chickens from the outside: a lever allows them to open and close the door at the top of the ramp to the chicken’s house, and a long top-opening door lets them access any eggs that may have been laid in the nesting area.  The door has a magnetic top so it will stay open while they harvest the eggs.  To best utilize the space and help provide a layer of shade to the roof of the coop, Mikulski and Wojdyla created a strawberry bed on top.

The doors to the chicks’ house are stained glass cabinet doors, and the siding is made of slats reclaimed from pallets.  Everything is decorated to match the home and garage, an aesthetic fit with the rest of the backyard’s landscaped splendor.

On May 15th the couple had their inspection.  “Basically, the inspection centered around the coop being structurally sound,” Mikulski said in her blog www.ferndalechickens.com.  “He checked the roofing to make sure it was secure, and the fencing and nesting box door hinges.  He asked what we’ll do in the winter, and I told him I’m firmly against heating the coop- the chickens I have will grow to be big girls, and they’ll essentially be wearing down coats. He seemed pleased with that, since there had been an incident several years ago involved a wire shorting out on a coop in Ferndale- my worst fear.

“The permit expires on December 31st every year, so I’ll need to go into the city and schedule another inspection and pay my fee in early December.  I figure I’ll just do it around the same time I renew my car registration.”

Her advice to people who want to build a coop: “Draw the plan first, but be flexible in building. Consider drainage and ventilation- chickens need to be dry. Build everything at a height that is comfortable for you to work in/with. Be mindful of cleaning issues and form a plan that allows you to clean with ease.”

Finding the chickens wasn’t hard, Mikulski just looked on Craigslist.  When she got them back in February she kept them in inside the house until the coop was complete.  “When they’re done growing they’re going to be big birds,” she said, noting that she specifically sought out Buff Orpington chicks because of their mild-manner and their heftiness once grown.

“The ladies won’t lay eggs for a while, and when they start it might take a while before the eggs come out fully developed.  Sometimes they come out without a shell.  Sometimes they’re just tiny.  Sometimes there could be ‘fart eggs,’ which are eggs without a yolk inside.”  Once they girls do mature though, they will likely lay about one egg per day.

“I just love being able to come out here and watch them.  It’s so peaceful.  The littlest things make them so happy,” Mikulski said.  Big Bossy, Little Bossy and Little Girl enjoy eating seed and leafy veggies. They also love rolling around in the sand and dirt.  They even get along well with the family dog Hurley.  “He’s never seemed bothered by them in the least,” Mikulski said.

For much more information on backyard chickens, check out www.ferndalechickens.com.

For official City of Ferndale ordinance information and more, go to www.ferndale-mi.com.

   For stories of how this all came to be, check out:

http://ferndale115.com/nuevo/2011/04/20/chicken-coops-in-ferndale/

http://ferndale115.com/nuevo/2011/05/12/the-chicken-petition/

http://ferndale115.com/nuevo/2011/09/15/council-to-vote-on-chicken-coops

http://ferndale115.com/nuevo/2012/01/07/chicken-coop-ordinance-to-be-considered-by-council-monday/

http://ferndale115.com/nuevo/2012/01/15/new-rules-allow-for-backyard-chickens/

Chicken Coop Site Map & Structural Plan

As part of our ordinance, we had to submit a site map and structural drawing for the chicken coop.  Ben put his engineering background to good use and put together these:

Site Map/ Site Plan

Click for full size version. Site map/site plan: shows property lines and positions of all permanent structures. Basically a copy of my “platt map”, which I received when I purchased my home- you can get a copy from the city offices. Obviously we had to add the location/dimensions of the coop.

Structural Drawing

Click for full size version. Structural drawing: shows the dimensions of the coop from overhead, the side, and the front. Also a detailed drawing of the footer we used, and materials listing. Everything must be drawing to scale.

Please be aware that everything must be to scale when submitting to the city of Ferndale, just like you’d have with a building plan for a home or garage.  It’s not too difficult, but is certainly intimidating if you’ve never done it before.