What happens when you mix chickens, an engineer, and a woodworker?
When Jolie decided she was going to raise chickens, she had some standards. “I had to be able to reach the nest boxes, and I wanted to be able to do that from outside the coop, while standing on the ground.”
Joile’s just a little over 5 feet tall, and had a valid point. Commercial coops weren’t going to quite meet her needs. “I wanted the birds to have a reliable water source too, and to be able to use the tractor to move the coop myself.”
Her birds are yard birds, and roam their 2+ acre yard freely. Even though the house is near a busy county highway, the yard is so large the the five birds have plenty of room to roam, and never go near the street. She and her husband Mike discussed the coop in detail, and then he started to build it.
Mike works in the Tire Development Department at Goodyear’s Fayetteville, NC, manufacturing plant, and is an ethusiastic woodwork hobbyist.
“We talked it over, and I sketched out some things, and then I put it together,” said Mike, who’s quiet, and modest about the fantastic chicken house. It features an automatically plumbed waterer that’s fed via a collection ‘cistern’, a 5 gallon bucket that collects water. The coop has a solar collector on the roof, so it is wired for electricity. The heat lamp runs on a timer, keeping the birds snug in the cold, and giving them more ‘daylight’ during fall and winter.
The nest box opens from the top AND the bottom, so eggs can be gathered easily, and the boxes cleaned quickly, just as Jolie wanted.
The floor is fairly low, and has flush construction, so the litter can simply be pushed out one side as clean bedding is put in the opposite door.
Mike’s planning an auto-feed feature too. “It’ll hold 30 pounds or so of feed. The container will be on the outside of the coop, on the frame, and it’ll travel in via gravity. As they peck on what’s there, more will just trickle out. If we are away for a weekend, we’ll know they have plenty of food and water.”
He also wants to put different tires on the coop, those that can handle the weight better.
A galvanized tin roof keeps the girls dry, and strandboard covered with beadboard keeps out chilly drafts. The winter just past saw some astonishingly cold temperatures for this part of North Carolina, but Jolie and Mike didn’t lose a single bird.