Since I started contributing to Community Chickens, I’ve highlighted several “Cool Coops” that have been constructed by some creative chicken keepers. I’ve also shared my own coop in several different articles, but never featured it as a “Cool Coop”. I thought the Community might want to see the evolution of my green roof coop – from its beginning to how it has continued to provide a beautiful secure home to our backyard flock.
My husband, Jeff, and I are vendors at our local farmers’ market where we sell living roof birdhouses, bird feeders and such… We are not quite sure which came first – the coop or a birdhouse – but Jeff has always considered the chicken coop the “ultimate birdhouse”. A green roof provides a lot of advantages to any structure, but specifically in a coop I think insulation is the greatest benefit. – It keeps the coop cooler in the summer and provides a blanket of warmth in the winter. And of course it adds a lot of curb appeal to the coop!
My husband never builds anything with a blueprint. He has an idea and then it evolves as he creates and constructs his projects. After several folks asked for the coop plans, I finally did get him to provide a rough draft of the coop. Here’s the link to the amateur blueprint. – the garden-roof coop (coop plans)
Coop Specs and Basic Construction
The first phase of the coop project was the frame. I could already tell I liked the layout, the size and the nesting boxes positioned on the outside of the coop for easy egg retrieval. Then we moved the frame next to the dog pen. This would provide the chickens with some protection from the ever present, ever herding Border Collies. The dogs have never used the pen because of some in-bred fear that Border Collies have of being contained…Siding, windows, shutters, doors and a tunnel from the coop to the run followed….
The frame of the roof was covered in a water proofing cloth and made to allow for about 4 inches in depth for the planting materials. There are horizontal slats in the frame so that the slope doesn’t cause all of the soil to move down the pitch of the roof. I used a high quality potting soil mixture then added a thick layer of sphagnum moss and secured it with chicken wire. The roof is planted with winter hardy–drought tolerate sedums and succulents. It requires little watering other than the rain. For more detailed instructions on adding a living roof to your coop, visit this link: – Living Roof Coops
A coat of red paint and a rooster weather vane completed the coop…
A Peak inside the Coop
Basically, as far as a chicken is concerned, a coop is a place they can go to find shelter, roost and lay an egg. My coop meets their needs in all these areas. We have a roosting bar that is 18 inches in height and approximately the length of the coop (43 inches).
On one side of the coop there are three nesting boxes that are accessible from the outside (to gather eggs). One nesting box per four to five chickens is all that is required. However, it doesn’t seem to matter how many hens I have – I usually find all the eggs in the same nesting box.
Most sources recommend that the roosting bar needs to allow 12 inches of space per chicken. I originally had only one bar in the coop, but as the flock has grown, we added an additional roosting site. This prevents some of the pecking and pushing that I noticed when the girls were settling in for the night. A typical minimal requirement is 3 to 5 square feet per bird inside a coop. I have a little less than that per bird. The attached run adds more space, and I do open the run and let them free range during the day, but I’m sure the girls would appreciate a little more room to ruffle their feathers! This is especially true during the winter. I’ve noticed that if the temperature is below 20 degrees (or if there is snow on the ground), they prefer to stay inside their crowded-cozy coop.Poop — all chicken keepers have to deal with it. It’s true that it is a great fertilizer, but it’s not a pretty sight. I use either a thick layer of straw or pine shavings as a bedding on the floor of the coop and in the nesting boxes. Jeff added a “poop tray” under the roosting bar and that feature has turned cleaning the coop into an easy chore. Once a week I simply take the poop-filled tray and dump it into the compost bin. The chickens typically only “relieve” themselves while they’re roosting, and this strategically placed tray makes this ugly task as pleasant as it can be.
Outside the Coop / The Run
Finally we predator proofed the run by attaching 1/2 inch mesh hardware cloth–3 foot high around the perimeter and over the top (this required a lot of high quality zip ties). A 3 foot wide skirt of chicken was attached (more zip ties) to the bottom/outside of the pen (buried a few inches underground and covered with mulch). Other than the time that I failed to secure the coop at dusk, the flock hasn’t had any threats from predators attempting to enter the coop or run – digging under, reaching through or attacks from above…
If you have a “Cool Coop” you would like to share with the Community, email me at RebeccasBirdGardens@gmail.com
Click on the link below for previous entries in the “Cool Coops!” series…
To view what else is happening at our Southwest Missouri property visit: the garden-roof coop
If you enjoy bird-watching (in addition to chicken-watching), I invite you to follow my Facebook page: Rebecca’s Bird Gardens