Last year, we increased our number of layer hens to roughly 100, and plan to increase further over the next few years. We needed a new coop! Once again, S returned to the drawing board to come up with a design, while I jotted down my thoughts of things I had and had not liked about the previous, smaller designs we had built over the last few years.
We finally had a plan and set it in motion. We decided to build a hoop-house style coop, with open ends. Since we have guardian dogs, we don’t need to close our coop up at night. Since S had oak available from his lumber mill, that’s what the coop foundation and roosts were built with. Yes, oak is very heavy, but we had our team to move it, so heavy wasn’t a big deal. Oak is also sturdy, so we didn’t have to worry about the weight of all the chickens piling onto roosts at night. We used cattle panel to form the hoop shape. We had some wood scraps and thin plywood pieces we used to build the nest boxes, which were designed to be removable. We ordered the cover custom made from a company specializing in tarp-type covers for farm buildings. It was far more secure and sturdier than standard tarp material.
The next step was to build the feed and water station. We decided to make this a separate structure, which could be attached and towed along behind the hoop house.
Finally, we put it all together, hauled it out to the pasture, and when the weather warmed enough, we moved the hens from their winter quarters to the new Hen Hut. They totally approved!
We now have roost capacity to easily house around 170 hens, and more if they pack in a bit snugly. When filled, the feeder holds the equivalent of about 2- 50 pound sacks of feed and lasts 100 pastured hens about 4-6 days (depending on bugs and other available feedstuffs).
Stay tuned, and I’ll tell you how we winterize the Hen Hut soon!