Keeping chooks in the backyard has become popular again in recent years as more and more of us have rediscovered the benefits of owning these feathered friends.
Chickens are great fun to have at home and they are fantastically sustainable. Not only do they lay eggs and produce manure, which can be used for composting, they also gobble up pests and snails in the garden.
Every chook needs a place they can call home, so we called up sustainability expert Charlie Bacon from Ecolicious to help us build a chicken house.
Building the house
We built a coop and a run for up to six chooks from reclaimed hardwood. Both parts can be adjusted for size.
The structure has a large sheltered roosting area, nesting and laying box, and storage space. It's important to use wire at the back of the storage area to keep the chooks out.
Its elevated design creates a shady cool zone underneath. The flooring and the nesting box can be pulled out for cleaning.
Create the post frame sets, securing header plates onto the sides flush with the top and edges of the posts. Attach the lower side rails. Dig holes for the stirrups, 1190mm apart. Dig a trench 200mm wide and deep between all the posts. Position the frames, check for level and plumb, then add braces.
Fill the post holes with concrete and allow to cure. Attach the roof joists on the outside edges between the
front and rear frames with a 200mm overhang at the rear. Secure another header plate between the front end of the roof joists. Use the diagram to build the rest of the chook house.
Measure the gap for the storage space door and the nesting box double barn-style doors, leaving 5mm against the frame for movement. Position the slats for the storage space door on a flat surface, attaching cleats at the top base with screws. Repeat to build the nesting box doors.
Position the top and base rails between the side rails, securing the butt joints with screws to make the feed door frames. Measure and cut the wire to fit 20mm in from all edges, securing with screws. Cut two horizontals and secure to the top and base rails, positioning the screws either side of the butt joints.
Attach strap hinges to the feed doors then hang on the chook house. Secure the nesting box doors using strap hinges or fixed-pin butt hinges, which provide more support for the downward opening door.
TIP Add padbolts to all the doors to prevent accidental opening.
Attach the first posts to the back of the header plate at the front of the roof line. Dig a post hole and sink the post using concrete. Secure the header plates with screws then sink the remaining posts, digging a trench about 200mm deep between all the posts for the wire mesh.
Secure wire to the outside of the posts, running it into the trench. Attach wire to the areas beneath the main coop. Backfill the trench to bury the wire. Attach header plates to run around the posts flush with the top. Starting from the front header plate, secure wire over the top area.
Position a brace to run between the main gatepost and its partner post on the opposite side. Measure and cut sheets of corrugated tin for the left-hand side, rear, roof and the front right side, securing with screws. Add a gate brace, leaving about 20mm above soil level.
Position the gate slats between the side rails, securing with screws. Attach wire to the back of the gate. Cut a 45˚ mitre on the brace ends and secure halfway up the gate through the side rails using screws. Attach T-hinges at the top and base of the outside of the gate. Secure the gate to the post with hinges.
Measure the space for the nesting box baseboard, ensuring it can be removed through the doors. Cut two 90 x 22mm decking slats to length, securing to the baseboard 130mm from the back edge and 20mm from the front edge. Attach the box dividers, spacing them evenly to create the nesting compartments.
Cut a 250 x 300mm opening in a door built like the feed-access doors but clad in corrugated tin, securing it to the top, base and centre rails. Leave half the centre rail above the opening, then secure the tin. Attach decking onto the rail. Attach fixed-pin butt hinges, hang the door and add a padbolt.
Use a 200 x 50 x 2400mm sleeper as the ramp. Saw hardwood stakes into 240mm lengths, then predrill and attach at 150mm spacings. Secure the ramp to the chook house frame or use aluminium angle to make a bracket. Add quality nesting straw, food and supply of fresh, clean water regularly.