Harvard Hen House – Get The Scoop On The Coop

This picture of my coop was posted on my official Harvard Hen House Facebook page May 20th 2017. It received over 145,000 views in a months time and has caught the eye of many “chicken people” like myself.

I was in shock when a couple Facebook pages shared my coop photo such as Fluffy Layers and Fresh Eggs Daily. This brought a ton of people to my page and of course a ton of questions as well about my coop, the design, paint color, bedding and so on. I’ve promised again and again I would share the details on my coop and almost a year later I DELIVER!

From Garden Shed To Coop

The coop was made from a prefabricated shed I bought from a friend for $800. A well built, sturdy shed with a wooden floor and new shingles on the roof. It measures about 10ft x 16ft, two doors on the front side and a breaker box for electricity. I had been saving my money for a coop (or supplies to build one) and jumped on this opportunity as soon as it was offered. I saved so much time on labor and a lot of money. It must of been my day because I bought a rabbit hutch too that I now use for my younger hens before I introduce them to the flock. I will share more on that later.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect for getting such a large building moved. My husband and his co-workers just so happened to be in the neighborhood with a truck and trailer, loader and skid steer. The process of moving the shed was tedious and nerve racking and I was informed that once it was where I wanted it, that is where it stayed!

Flooring

After spending a chunk of money on the shed I tried saving some pennies on flooring. I didn’t want the plywood floor to rot out and also wanted to be able to spray out the coop with a water hose so I covered it with scrap linoleum I bought at the local flooring store. I bought a few pieces and instead of using an adhesive, I screwed them to the floor. You’re probably thinking, “bet that doesn’t work so well.” You’re right.. After catching the overlapped edges with a shovel while shoveling out the shavings I realized how epically stupid that was. I’m reminded how stupid it was every time I clean the coop, which is quite often. If I were to it all over, and I will, I would use a full piece of flooring as apposed to a few scrap pieces. Cleaning the coop floor would be done in half the time had I spent a couple extra bucks on a full piece of linoleum. Live and learn. Live and learn.

Paint

After the flooring was screwed down *face palm* I decided the inside of the coop needed some color. So I added a coat of paint, and then another AND THEN ANOTHER! That plywood soaked it up like a sponge! I probably used 5 gallons of both the blue and the white. I wanted to give up painting as it took stinking forever but I was like “do it for Instagram” 😂 just kidding.. or am I? For those who wanted the paint color, it is Valspar’s VR080C “Gypsy Blue”.

Totally worth the sweat, tears and fumes.. I also think it inspires my Easter Eggers to lay beautiful blue eggs.

Ten gallons of paint later I invested in some chicken essentials..

The “Essentials” Are As Follows..

2 waterers. One for the run and one on landscape bricks inside the coop high enough that shavings won’t get thrown into the bowl.

2 feeders, which I suspended from the ceiling to minimize waste from chickens scratching feed out into the pine shavings. One for crumble and one for pellets. (People on the chicken forums have debates on which types of layer feeds chickens prefer so I decided I would offer them both and skip the debate all together.)

A 31 gallon galvanized trash can – for chicken scratch, treats and anything else I want to hide from the little scavengers.

A ten seater nesting box. When I first assembled the nesting box, there were 3 rows of perches. I had hens roosting on the perches at night time and pooing on the broody hens in the boxes. With that being said, I removed the perches as the boxes were low enough to the ground and they weren’t needed.

The nesting boxes have pop out inserts in the bottom of each box for easy cleaning. I can’t rave about them enough so I’ve included the link to the one I have. Brower Nesting Box

Pet door and ramp for going outside. I would suggest against a plastic pet or doggie door as they do not hold up to sun damage, ice and CHICKENS. I will be replacing my now broken plastic door with either a wood or metal one.

Roosts

The roosts are nothing fancy. Made from 2×4’s, the first row is 2 ft high and second is 4 ft high with 18 inches between the two. I painted them white and surprisingly they’ve stayed that color. The roost bars extend across the full length of the coop and seat 50 birds comfortably with room for more.

Vents

There was no ventilation in the shed when I bought it so I added 4 vents to the back wall so there would be no cold drafts by the roosts or nesting boxes. These vents are perfect for winter but provide no where near enough ventilation for the summer heat during the daytime so for now I open the front doors for additional air circulation. I will install more vents perhaps in the doors themselves.

Decor

When it comes to coop decor Hobby Lobby and Refunked Junque has the coop covered. With just two wall hangings and a chandelier, I tried to go easy on decorating the coop. Because having a mobile/chandelier is considered “going easy”, right? I’m sure I’ll add more as I just can’t say no to cute decor on sale or cute decor in general. But sometimes I have to think to myself “that’s going to be a pain in the ars to clean”.

The honest truth told by a seasoned “chicken tender”

Chickens literally make dust. These pictures were taken after thorough coop cleanings. Chickens also poop.. like ALOT. Pine shavings are added or replaced every other week. Eggs are laid in corners, behind the trash can and under the nesting boxes. I collect eggs from the nesting boxes and then do my daily Easter egg hunt. Water doesn’t stay in the waterer and the waterer doesn’t always end up elevated on the bricks where it belongs (it’s heavy). Feed bags are stacked in a corner out of sight in pictures. The place is a literal mess on a daily basis. It is WORK to keep up a coop this big and although it is beautiful I don’t want people to get in over their head, buy and fancify a shed/coop and assume it will stay that way for longer than two days. HOWEVER, when it’s clean, it’s lovely. It provides a safe, secure and cozy place for my chickens to call home and I truly enjoy the work and the coop itself.

I hope this helps you with designing your coop!

I will write about the chicken run attached to the coop and it’s design in a later blog post. It’s still in the making (:

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