After the arrival of the first 10 hens we added 4 more hens. We had built the coop to handle up to 25 hens, but have no intention of having that many just yet. In case you are following our flock, we now have 7 Rhode Island Reds, 4 Barred Plymouth Rocks, 2 Black Sussex and 1 Polish.
Here they are in order:
Rhode Island Red: 7
Barred Plymouth Rock: 4
Black Sussex: 2
Their eggs: 3 in this nest
The girls are all settling in after having a bit of a fight to sort out their pecking order (yes, they really do that), but I still cannot predict our egg count. For the time we have decided not to force them to lay by increasing the amount of light they get each day (high production requires 16 hours per day which would mean artificial light), but as winter sets in I will have to put the coop lights on a timer just to make sure the girls stay healthy.
Here is a picture of the chicken coop inside.
We tried to recycle as much as possible. The roost is from the dilapidated play set that was here when we moved in to our home. It is secured to the wall with a hinge for easy cleaning and the ramp for the hens to exit and enter is actually made from the side of our house that was left in the barn from previous remodeling. As for the nesting boxes (really in our case laying boxesc since we don't have a rooster) they are made from Home Depot buckets with lids cut in half and secured to each one. Another Home Depot bucket with some hole drilled near the bottom and secured to a large flower pot saucer was used to make our feeder.
(Our Polish Hen is grabbing a little snack)
Lastly our watering bucket was a FREE bucket we secured from the Wal-Mart deli and another flower pot saucer. My darling husband did most of the hard work while we were on our road trip. Personally, I think he really enjoyed it.
I love the fact that we could have easily spent over $2,000 dollars to put this together and instead we are just around $350 in supplies. That amount includes the $250 that was spent to secure the outside yard from predators (fence post, hardware cloth, deer netting, nite eyes, water barrel and pump). In the mountains we have a lot of predators from raccoons and foxes all the way up the food chain to mountain lions.
It's a chicken coop, not a mansion. It is practical and sustainable.
The boys are all excited about the hens and especially the egg collecting. Each morning I wake them all up to see who wants to go down with me to let the hens out into their yard. It requires that the boys wake up earlier than they would normally during the summer, but they want to go most of the time. Not everyone gets to go every morning because we have some behavioral expectations that must be met to qualify to do the chore everyone wants. However, as long as they meet the bar they get to take the walk down to let the hens out in the morning, collect the eggs in the late afternoon and then close the coop door in the evening after the girls have gone in to roost.