We live in the surburbs, on a river, on several acres of pecans, pines and salt bush. In this world of well-groomed lawns and tidy little boat docks, ours is a wild heaven. Fairies and devas collect here and plant elderberry bushes and joe-pye-weed. The foxes, raccoons and opossums follow.
The house and tractor are separate pieces and can both be moved by two people. The tractor can go on any of 3 sides of the house, thus make moving the house less frequent. This way the chickens have access to fresh grass and bugs most of the time.
Those last three (‘coons, ‘possums and foxes) love nothing better than a fine chicken dinner. Sashimi style, if you please. In an effort to keep our chickens from becoming snack food, I designed and my husband built a titanium plated chicken palace. So far, so good. They are now 4 months old and receiving daily hints about it being just about time for them to start laying some of those nice, chocolate-colored eggs.
The cage, or tractor, is covered in hardware cloth. The bottom has 2″x4″ box wire covering it. The chickens can scratch and peck but a fox can’t dig under and fit through the mesh. The reason for the hardware cloth is to keep little raccoon hands from reaching and and dismembering a hen and pulling the chunks out. Yes, we have had this happen with wire with larger openings.
Mark calls this the chicken hutch. The rest of us laugh at him and call it the coop. Rabbits live in hutches. Mark does not care. It is a hutch and that’s that.
Both ends are the same. A window up high, which looks like an extravagance but is really helpful for checking on the birds without opening up any doors. It also lets in light and keeps the inside from getting musty. The ‘H’ shape is a door. The door slides up and down. The barrel bolt and trigger clip keep those pesky raccoons from getting in. We have had them unlock barrel bolts *and* hook-and-eye locks. They’ve even ripped small doors off of their small hinges to get at our hens. No more of that. When the tractor is on this end, the door is clipped in the open position and the birds can move in and out of the house at will and in complete safety.
Our chickens are all Black Copper Marans. I would love an Americauna hen and maybe a Buff Orpington or other light brown egg layer to go along with our chocolate egg laying beauties. If they ever lay. The rooster is named Horace.
You can see the grid of box wire on the bottom. Predator protection from the ground up!
Nest box and door, from the outside.
Next boxes from the inside.
We don’t plan on having a lot of hens, maybe 5 or 6 at the most. 3 nest boxes should do for them. The chickens get in from the front, which is open to the inside of the house or coop. We can open the door and gather the eggs. The door has a hasp with a trigger clip to keep it safely closed when our furry neighbors come snuffling around.
So far, the only egg we’ve seen is the plastic Easter Egg I stuck in there as a hint.
View from the window: you can see that the bottom is also hardware cloth. This is to let the poo fall through. In winter we will layer straw over that to keep out the cold. Nest boxes are to the right, current exit to the tractor is to the left. The bars are roosts and the little guys go in every night and hop up on them to go night night. Sometimes we peek.
It’s a bit difficult to see through the wire but here is the ramp leading into the coop. It has treads to keep slipping to a minimum. The old, plastic table cloth was an afterthought: they need shade! It’s not pretty but it works just fine.
I think that’s it! As usual, Mark and I make a good team. I’m the envisioner and he is the manifester. It works and the chickens are happy, safe and have lots of fresh air, sunshine and grass.