The Chicken Ranch

Categories:Country life, DIY

In early 2016, Kevin decided he wanted to raise chickens. Maybe he had fond memories of gathering eggs on his grandpa's farm. Whatever the reason, he decided that when Family Center had its annual Chick Days, we were going to get chicks and raise chickens.

Of a practical nature, I pointed out that we had no place to keep chickens. Dinner had taught me the value of some form of safe haven for the easily hunted species.

Chicken Coop

Chicken coop for sale at Family Center

Kevin began exhaustive research into raising laying hens. Every time we shopped at Family Center, we studied their chicken coops. Two things were certain:

  • The coop had to stand the test of time and
  • It had to be movable. We started life as city folk, and the thought of cleaning a chicken coop just didn't appeal.

After gathering lots of data, Kevin designed the coop he wanted. It had many of the features we'd seen in online designs, but a few extras, too.

We had built a barn to house our farm equipment in 2015 and had some tin roofing and two-by materials left from that and some window sealant and tar paper that we'd been hauling around from house to house for about 15 years (now you know why we needed a barn). We bought treated lumber for the base and framing, OSB for the interior to provide a little insulation, and exterior siding.

Do-it-yourself chicken coop

Our DIY chicken coop

Building it took six weekends from February into March, but when done, we had a solid 16x8-foot hen house with a fenced side yard to allow the chickens to get outside, but protect them from predators. We caulked all the seams inside and out and painted the interior and exterior with white exterior paint. We added staggered roosts, a large, suspended chicken feed tray and a hanging waterer. Friends who raise chickens gave us the idea of using five-gallon buckets tipped on their sides for nesting. We attached opaque window material at the top on the highest side to give the chickens more light and left some space between the roof and top of the wall to ventilate the building and reduce moisture build-up.

During the winter, we run a power cord to the coop to plug in heat lamps over the roosts and a heated waterer. Best of all, we have little cleaning to do because Kevin periodically moves the coop with the tractor (see below)!

Repositioning the chicken coop with the tractor

Kevin uses the tractor to move the chicken coop.