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.
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.
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′.
We did not keep perfect records of the receipts for the coop-bad practice on our side. But, after tallying it up we roughly spent $6000 on our coop, (give or take) not including any decorative lighting or electrical runs. We saved on a lot of costs by doing a majority of the labor ourselves, and most of the cost came from our cement base and the standing seam metal roof.
Personally, I think chickens are extremely low maintenance as long as you are able to keep their coop clean of dampness, most bacteria or fumes won’t accumulate. While everyone’s cleaning schedule will vary based on flock needs-you can find a more detailed outline of my cleaning schedule HERE!
My chicken wire is extremely sentimental to me: it was on the chicken barns of my family farm. My father and grandfather were commercial chicken farmers; and when my father passed, my sister and I decided to liquidate the barns. I salvaged the rolls of wire from the debris and to me, it feels like a piece of home.
If you have large predators, yes hardware cloth will be a more secure option. We do not have large predators and I have found that on the rare occasion we have had a snake (once) they prefer to enter through the open chicken door.
Multi-Use Primed Grey Engineered Panel Siding (0.34-in x 48-in x 96-in) This is pre-primed, so ready for paint!
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.
SW Pure White
Our roof is a black standing seam roof that we hired out to be installed.
I use a variation of the deep litter method with sand and pine shavings
We use untreated wood mulch and it is amazing. Highly recommend it because the poop will filter down underneath and compost itself pretty easily.
A: We have 6 total, but they really only use 4.
I absolutely love our coop, so it is hard to pick just one! My personal favorite features are:
One of my biggest regrets was not finishing the ceiling-which I recently completed. My hens would roost in the rafters and poo into the storage side-making it difficult to touch anything without getting flakey poo on myself. That problem is now solved!
If I had to “change” anything, I would have made the run even larger. But now that we have the lama crew, my chickens are safe to free-range with added protection.
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”?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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 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 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!
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.
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 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 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 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 provides macronutrients, such as calcium and vitamin K, as well as a range of antioxidants, which aide in overall immune health.
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!
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.