We began our adventures in backyard chicken-keeping last summer like so many people during COVID-19. I didn’t know I would soon think of these feathered friends as members of the family.
“Crazy chicken lady”—that’s what they whispered when I walked into the design center where we had our shed built several years ago. I arrived with three pages of specs and a desire to look at least half sane when I said these plans were for a chicken coop.
While my design plans were particular, my goals were simple. I hoped to incorporate all the things that maximize efficiency, promote a healthy living environment for our chickens and be visually appealing.
Within a few months, the custom coop arrived. We installed an automatic door, hung solar lanterns and made easy-to-clean dropping boards from corrugated plastic. I sewed chicken fabric panels for the nesting boxes, hanging them with a strip of Velcro for easy removal and washing.
Artificial turf squares in the nesting boxes make those areas easy to clean and keep tidy. We installed hardware cloth on the open eaves, over all the windows and around the perimeter to secure the coop from predators.
In the spring, we had our first broody hen. Before her three perfect little chicks hatched, I made a custom brooder to fit securely in the unused space under the nesting boxes.
The transition to the new coop wasn’t the smoothest. For several weeks the hens laid their eggs everywhere but in the nesting boxes. Finally, the girls started to embrace their new living quarters. And we stopped seeing eggs laid on the floor and roosting bars all together.
The space in this coop keeps my chicken math in check. We’re at maximum capacity. As tempting as it is to add to the flock, the health of our chickens remains top priority.
We have enjoyed owning chickens more than we could have ever imagined. The experience has truly been a blessing for our entire family. Like so many fellow chicken-keepers, I wear the “crazy chicken lady” badge with honor! — Jennifer Kutchey , Manchester, Maryland.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of Chickens magazine.