Autumn at the Coop

Fall in Texas is hard to come by, and pretty short-lived. But I’m so glad we live in a world where there are Octobers.

For more updates, follow along with me on Instagram: @theroostingplace

To learn more about our DIY Coop, please click here.

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost-“Nothing Gold Can Stay”

FAQ’s About Our DIY Chicken Coop

“Do you have plans I can purchase for your coop?

I currently do not have plans for sale on our coop. We modified purchased plans from Twelve On Main and as of right now I still point to Sara’s plans if you are looking to build a coop design similar to ours.

“What are the dimesions of your coop/run?

The enclosed coop is divided into two parts: one for the chickens and one for storage. The entire area inside the coop is 10’x10′. The enclosed run is 12’x8′.

“What color stain is on the door and run?

Thompson WaterSeal Timberoil in Transparent Teak. This is a waterproofing seal that is used on outdoor decks and fencing for maximum protection on our run.

“What color is on the exterior of the coop?

SW Pure White

“What type of roofing material did you use?

Our roof is a black standing seam roof that we hired out to be installed.

“What “bedding” do you use inside the coop?

I use a variation of the deep litter method with sand and pine shavings

“What “bedding” do you use in the run?

We use untreated wood mulch and it is amazing. Highly recommend it because the poop will filter down underneath and compost itself pretty easily.

How many nesting boxes do you have?

A: We have 6 total, but they really only use 4.

“Where did you find your light fixtures-are they hardwired?”

Our exterior lights are the Arnette Outdoor lights from Lamps Plus and are capable of hard-wiring. (They are not currently hard-wired because we are waiting to have an electrician come out and run electricity to the whole garden area all at once). They will be set up on a smart system that connects to my phone.


About Our Flock

I get tons of questions over the temperment and qualities of the chickens we have in our coop, so I think it is high time that these special ladies get to shine in the spotlight. But before I tell you about them, I need to let you in on a lesser-known term for first time chicken buyers: chicken math. That’s right, math for chickens. This is a phrase that we as first time chicken parents had no clue about, and have had the “pleasure” of learning about through experience.

So, what is “chicken math”?

Chicken math is the term used to describe being sent more chicks than you order, in the case that some do not survive.

With that preface, I want to share our chicken ordering experience, and I bet you can guess what happens. We built our chicken coop with an enclosed run to protect our babies from all the hawks that we have nesting in our trees. Humanely, chickens need approx 8-10 sq ft per chicken in the run area to avoid any agression or health issues. With this knowledge in our back pocket, we decided that we wanted to have 10-12ish chickens total (maybe more if I get brave enough to let them range outside the run as they get older).

We decided to order our chickens from Cackle Hatchery, a hatchery that will ship your selected chick breed/sexes to you as soon as they hatch (one day old chicks). We decided to purchase 15 chicks, 3 of 5 different breeds, and did this because we expected some to not survive the mail/adolesance for whatever issue that can arise in baby chicks. WELL. Apparently the breeder already takes these risks into account, and sent us 5 EXTRA in case any were lost due to the mailing process or sickness.

So now, we have 20, healthy, thriving, RAVENOUS, chickens. Supposedly they are all female, but we are waiting to see if any crow before we start to rehome some of them. There’s just no way we can keep them all. First to go will be any roos, because we live in the city limits and have a couple of neighbors that would probably report them…lame…I know. But that’s okay. We aren’t ready to tackle the whole fertilized egg process just yet. Maybe one day!

With all that being said, I chose my breeds of chickens based on these primary factors: temperment, and egg color, and production output, all paired with how the bird itself would look.

Meet Our Flock Breeds:

We have 5 different breeds- Cuckoo Maran, Buff Orpington, Black Laced Golden Wyandotte, Brown Leghorn, and Easter Egger. Check out the quick facts about each breed below.

Cuckoo Maran

Size: Hens- 7 pounds; Roos- 8 pounds

Temperment: Friendly, Docile, Easily Handled

Egg color: Dark Chocolate Brown

Egg Production: 150/year

These are actually my easiest to catch and best handled chickens. Every single one of them is well-held, and may be my favorite breed in the coop for that reason.

Buff Orpington

Size: Hens- 8 pounds; Roos: 10 pounds

Temperment: Calm, Friendly, Bears Confinement well, Easily Handled, Docile, Quite

Egg color: Light Brown

Egg Production: 200-280/year

These birds are huge, which makes sense that they are great dual purpse birds. They’re extremely calm, howeve, I can’t catch one. These big girls have some speed!

Black Laced Golden Wyandotte

Size: Hens- 7 pounds; Roos: 9 pounds

Temperment: Bears Confinement Well, Calm, Docile, Easily Handled, Friendly, Quiet

Egg color: Brown and Speckled

Egg Production: 200/year

SUCH pretty birds. I love how the black in thier feathers refelcts blue/green in the sun. They have been some of my more difficult birds to catch, but when I do they are well handled and calm.

Brown Leghorn

Size: Hens-6 pounds; Roos: 7 pounds

Temperment: Friendly, Bears Confinement well, Calm, Flighty, Noisy, Shy, Very Active

Egg Color: White

Egg Production: 300-320/year

While I haven’t noticed a major noise issue, these birds are extremely curious, but very flighty. They run at most sudden movements.

Easter Egger

Size: Hens- 4 pounds; Roos-5 pounds

Temperment: Calm, Hardy, Friendly, Docile, Easily Handled, Bears Confinement Well

Egg Color: Blue/Green

Egg Production: 200-280/year

Fun fact: these chickens are named purely for their egg color, and no two birds are guaranteed to look alike! We have 2 fawn colored ones, a white one, and this beautiful grey one!

So as you can see, if we kept all 20 chickens, we would have SO MANY eggs on our hands (I’m talking average 5,000 eggs a year). All of these birds are either medium or high producers, and there is just too many of them.

Rumor is, we can 100% accurately sex anywhere between 4-6 months,we are just waiting for the crows! As a plus, any day now these ladies should start paying their rent! I hope to be able to name them once we rehome and get to our final number, and I will officially introduce the whole flock when that time comes!

Talk soon,

XX, Lanna


Chicken Coop Update:

It’s been a couple of months since we finished the Chicken Coop and shared the final product with the world! And I can honestly say these chickens have already taught me so much. I want to shed some light on the things that we have learned, and changed in our chicken coop so far:

You can always find more updates on my Instagram: @theroostingplace

First off, the plants on the ground did not survive 20 chickens. HAHA. These ladies demolished them within a couple of days, down to the sticks: the poor plants never stood a chance.

But, I was determined to find a solution that would allow me to keep my run beautifully green and that would keep beneficial herbs available to my chickens. Thus, the gallery wall was born. This includes a collage of chicken wall decor, and some hanging planters to put all those yummy herbs-all while keeping them away from hungry, spoiled chickens! I also have found success in planting tree-like shrubs in pots, and plan to add more over time because I love the way it looks.

Secondly, our Omelt automatic door finally made it to us! And let me tell you, as someone who loathes waking up early in the morning, I love it and the shipping wait was totally worth it. It was extremely easy to assemble/set up, and the different setting options make it customizable to your needs. We have ours set to the clock, with timers that will open and shut the doors at specified times (we watched our chickens to determine what time they naturally would go inside the coop for bed and set the time based on thier habits). This door even comes with a safety feature that will stop the door from moving if it detects an obstacle in the way-that right, no injured chickens over here!

Lastly, I started to experiment with methods to reduce the whole chicken poo smell. I’ve tried both diatomeceous earth, and PDZ horse stall refresher, and decided that I really like the PDZ. I’ve been sprinkling it on my pine shavings inside the coop, and over teh wood chips in the run and have found that I can stretch my cleaning out by a week or two, which can be a huge lifesaver!

That’s all on the coop update for now, but I will check back in as we learn and adapt to these crazy chickens!

Talk soon,

xx, Lanna


Chicken Friendly Herbs

And their benefits!

Did you know that there are several plants and herbs that are totally safe and beneficial to your chicken’s health? By adding the following herbs in/around your chicken coop, or by including them in your chicken’s diet, you can reduce the probability of several health risks. I have placed several of these inside my coop, and plant to add more over time!

Sage:

Sage in high in Vitamin K, which aides in blood clotting. Sage also serves as a cleaning agent, pesticide, and antioxidant, which can help in the prevention of salmonella.

Oregano:

Oregano has several antibiotic factors, and is packed with several nutrients such as Vitamin K, manganese, iron, Vitamin E, tryptophan and calcium. Becasue of this, oregano helps fight e.coli, salmonella, coccidiosis, and avian flu! This herb is being studied as a broad-spectrum natural antibiotic on large poultry farms! You go oregano!

Lavender:

Lavendar is high in Vitamin A (useful for eye health), calcium (bone strength), and iron. Not only does it smell lovely and can act as an air freshener, it is known to be a natural insect repellant, and contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce stress.

Rosemary:

Benefits: Rosemary is high in manganese (useful in metobolic health). Not only does rosemary smell great, it is known to be a natural insecticide, has antioxidant properties, assists with pain/stress relief and can enhance respiratory health. Studies have shown that the carnosic and rosmarinic acids in rosemary have powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.

Mint:

Mint contains trace elements of Vitamin A, iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. Mint is a great insecticide and also can keep mice away. Any of the mint varieties (including catmint, peppermint, and spearmint) can be fed to chickens, and also can have a calming effect.

Lemon Balm:

Lemon balm is high in flavonoids, which can have an antioxidant effect. Due to several chemical properties that attribute to scent, (one being citronellal) lemon balm is a natural mosquito repellant,can keep rodents away, and may relieve stress in flocks.

Thyme:

Thyme contains thymol and small amounts of other nutrients such as potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and magnesium.  Thyme is a natural insect repellant, has antibiotic properties, and also aides in respiratory health.

Basil:

Basil provides macronutrients, such as calcium and vitamin K, as well as a range of antioxidants, which aide in overall immune health.

Comfrey:

Comfrey is rich in vitamins A and B12 and can aid in a rich yellow color to yolks. Comfrey is high in protein and low in fiber, making it a great addition to your chicken’s diet.

These are just a few of the nutrient rich herbs you can add to your coop to aide in chicken health! Feed them dried or fresh to your chickens, add them to nesting boxes, or hang them around the coop to freshen the air!

Talk soon!

xx, Lanna

 “The birds are capable of…break[ing]… nutrients… down to their individual pieces and reassembl[ing] them into something that we enjoy eating. This is only possible if we provide them with all of the nutritional building blocks necessary for the job.”

-Justin Fowler
“Nutrition for the Backyard Flock”

Sources:

Brazier, Yvette. “Basil: Uses, Benefits and Nutrition.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 16 Dec. 2019, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266425.

Brennan, Dan. “Rosemary Health Benefits, Nutrients per Serving, Preparation Information, and More.” WebMD, WebMD, 18 Sept. 2020, http://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-rosemary#1.

Brennan, Dan. “Thyme: Health Benefits, Nutrients per Serving, Preparation Information, and More.” WebMD, WebMD, 19 Sept. 2020, http://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-thyme#2-4.

Glassman, Keri. “Oregano: An Herb Fit For Your Kitchen and Medicine Cabinet.” WebMD, WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/why-is-oregano-good-for-me#:~:text=Fresh%20oregano%20is%20a%20great,vitamin%20E%2C%20tryptophan%20and%20calcium.

Harrison, John. “Feeding Comfrey to Poultry and Other Livestock.” Allotment & Gardens, http://www.allotment-garden.org/comfrey/feeding-comfrey-poultry-livestock/#:~:text=High%20Protein%20%E2%80%93%20Low%20Fibre%20Comfrey&text=Comfrey%20being%20low%20in%20fibre,the%20expensive%20corn%2Dfed%20hens.

Meyers, Michelle. Lemon Balm: An Herb Society of America Guide . The Herb Society of America, 2007, http://www.herbsociety.org/file_download/inline/d7d790e9-c19e-4a40-93b0-8f4b45a644f1.

Nordqvist, Joseph. “Lavender: Health Benefits and Uses.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 4 Mar. 2019, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265922.

Raman, Ryan. “12 Health Benefits and Uses of Sage.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 14 Dec. 2018, http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sage.

Singh, Manpreet, et al. “Nutrition for the Backyard Flock.” University of Georgia Extension, 1 Apr. 2020, extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=C954&title=Nutrition+for+the+Backyard+Flock#:~:text=Calcium%2C%20phosphorus%2C%20and%20salt%20are,eggshell%20formation%20in%20laying%20hens.

Ware, Megan. “Mint: Benefits, Nutrition, and Dietary Tips.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 4 Dec. 2019, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275944.


Our Cozy Chicken Coop

The Chicken Coop (or Chicken Condo) is finally finished! As soon as we saw this property, I saw this empty space and immediately saw the vision for a beautiful garden area with a giant chicken coop and pretty laying hens, so when we got around to starting on this baby, I was so excited. Because we started in January, daylight savings + short sunlight hours, and my sweet hubby’s work schedule, we really only worked on this coop during the weekends up until about March, so it took us about 5 months to completely finish. Keep in mind we did everything with our own hands, but hired out some help for the concrete slab, and the metal installation of roof, so it was totally expected to take up some time.

Be sure to follow along on my Instagram: @theroostingplace for real-time updates and project progress!

For several months we spent all our free time building up this beautiful coop- and let me tell you, every second was worth it. There are more updates and additions to come over time, but for now, I am so happy to have this to a beautiful, functional “stopping” point. Through all the sweat, frustrations, learning curves, and time away from friends, my dream coop was born-and it brings tears to my eyes every time I look at it during the golden hours of evening. I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for a willing husband, and father in law, who were willing to help bring my dream to life. The memories made while building this coop are some that I will surely cherish forever.

For more updates and projects, follow my Instagram: @theroostingplace

We based all our designs off of Twelve on Main’s Coop Plans. Sarah has a gorgeous coop and several other adorable farm building plans, so we bought her plans then tweaked them to fit our needs. Some big differences we made were our concrete slab (highly reccomended for easy cleaning purposes), dimensions of the coop and run, and our choice of roofing material. While we did most of the coop based off our own intiution, it was great to have these plans on hand for reference when we got “stuck”! So lets take a look, shall we!

Click HERE to for FAQ’s regarding the coop build (paint + stain choices, building +roofing materials, etc.)

The Coop

Our coop is a 10’x10′ building and is split into two sections: a front storage area and the actual coop for the hens. The two are seperated by a interior wall lined with chicken wire and an old refurbished screen door that was gifted by my mother in law.

In the front half, we installed some cabinets for storage, a feed bin, (we will probably buy another one for the pine shavings), and hooks that hold the cleaning shovels. There are also doors that swing open for access to the nesting boxes, secured by cabinet “roller clips”.

Our enclosed coop has 2 functioning windows, 1 unfunctional (for now) window, 6 nesting boxes, a roosting ladder, and perches made from sturdy limbs collected from around the property. (Of course, the chickens much prefer to roost in the rafters)

Did you know that chickens poop where they roost??? For this reason, I also included a chicken “litter box” underneath all the perching zones which is filled with sand to hopefully make the cleaning process simpler. Will keep you updated on this endeavor, right now the sand makes the coop extra dusty, as they love to dust bathe in the sandy areas.

***EDIT: The chickens ended up spreading the sand everywhere, so removed the sand barrier and now leave a layer of sand on the whole floor, then cover with pine shavings.***

The Run

Our run is approximately 8’x12′. We opted not to allow our hens to free-range, as we have several predators like hawks, bobcats, and coyotes that frequently pass through our property. To accommodate, we created a completely enclosed run, which shares a roofline with the coop. We lined the bottom of the run with chicken wire, then covered it with mulch. This way, the hens can roam inside and out of the coop freely, all while minimizing the risk of predator attacks.

Inside the coop are several chicken-friendly herbs and plants, which are separate from my herb garden, meaning the chickens are free to peck and eat these to their heart’s desire, all while providing nutrition and protection. If these ever get too picked over, it will be easy to place a cloche over these plants until they have recovered and can be consumed again. To read more about chicken-friendly foliage and some benefits, click here!

***EDIT: to read some an updates and adjustments we have made to our coop and run since the initial build, please click here.

We also built the chickens a roosting tree out of sturdy branches found on the property, as well as made a chicken swing to keep the ladies entertained!

For those of you wondering, yes, there is a door to the run from the coop. We ordered an automatic door from Omlet, and at the time of publishing this post, the door has not arrived yet. It will be placed approximately in the center of the run to the left of the roosting tree. This battery-powered door will allow the chickens to enter the run at a set time, and then safely enclose them inside the coop in the evening at another set time. I’m very excited about this feature and cannot wait to share more with you about this automatic chicken door.

***EDIT: The run door did come in, and is an AMAZING addition to the coop. To read a little more about the updates we have made to the coop, please click here.

Over time I aim to add several more fun details to this adorable coop (think chandeliers and fun signs)! We also plan to hire an electrician to wire this baby up, but for now, we are packing up the tools and are ready to move on to the next project! We have so many more garden area projects in store: new fencing, more garden boxes, a greenhouse, and ground covering/pathways, I wonder what we will tackle next?

Be sure to follow along on my Instagram: @theroostingplace for real-time updates and project progress!

Talk soon.

xx, Lanna