The baby chicks grew so fast! We decided to make a home for them by converting one of our barn stalls into a chicken coop.
First we knocked down old wasp nests and cobwebs and cleaned out the straw bedding. Next we put down about 6 inches of fresh pine shavings. They smell so good! We prefer pine shavings to straw, because they don’t get as moldy. Our plan is to use the deep litter method for their bedding. If you do it right, it’s not supposed to stink, provides warmth during the winter, and makes great compost.
Our chicken coop has a dirt floor, so to prevent animals from digging under the walls to get in, we put down gravel and then 12″ x 12″ pavers along the one outside wall.
We lined another 10 pavers on the opposite side of the wall where there is another horse stall. That stall is only being used by our two dogs for now. A cement floor inside our barn borders the remaining two walls, so we don’t have to worry about anything digging there. You can also bury chicken wire, going down 12 inches and then scooping out away from the coop.
Next, we nailed some old wood paneling to the side walls to cover the 1 1/2 inch wide spaces between the boards. Minks are really dangerous for chickens and they can get through a space the size of a golf ball (or smaller).
Windows and Doors
Covering the barred windows on the sliding door and the wall facing inside the barn was a little trickier. Hardware cloth would have been great, but we already had chicken wire and needed to save money. Just one layer of chicken wire wouldn’t work because the openings are large enough to let a mink squeeze through. Apparently chicken wire is made to keep chickens in, not necessarily to keep predators out. So we stapled 2 layers of chicken wire to the window frames, making sure to align the wire so that the openings were twice as small.
Then we attached wood trim around the windows to sandwich the wire edges between two pieces of wood.
With the floor and the side walls secure, we turned our attention to the ceiling. I really stink at construction projects, so I am super thankful that Dan got involved. He first raised the side walls by adding two 2X8s. Then he used metal brackets to put 2X4 rafters across the ceiling.
We hung the food tank and hen hydrator from the rafters so they won’t get so messy, and positioned them near the sliding door so we can add to them without having to walk through too much of the chicken coop. The chickens spill a bit of water when they drink from the hydrator, but I really like how their water stays clean. I’m hoping that as they get older they will spill less. When they are outside during the day, the bedding under the hydrator dries up.