Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers


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How to make a fast, cheap chicken coop

High rise chicken coopWe're pawning off our problematic Light Sussex on my brother, so it seemed only fair to come over and help him build a chicken coop.  We threw it together in two and a half hours and the only storebought materials were about $20 worth of hinges, screws, and brackets.  Although you're highly unlikely to have the same found materials on hand, I thought you might enjoy seeing the process.

The trick to building well with scrap is to spend a few weeks pondering before you start.  Joey had his coop all planned out before we even got there.  He lives back in the woods where there are probably plenty of predators, and he didn't want to have to shut the chickens in every night, so he envisioned a high rise chicken coop a bit like the ones he'd seen in Central America.  The chickens will walk up a long ramp and enter through the top of the coop.

Using two doors as the structural integrity of a chicken coop

Top carrier becomes roofJoey had found two solid wood doors, which he planned to use as the main structural elements.  Mark suggested working up against a tree since the support makes it easy to build ramshackle coops by yourself.  Within minutes, we had nearly half of the coop in place.

Next, Joey took apart an old car top carrier to turn into the roof.  The parts unbolted easily, so if Joey wants to go on a trip, he can just remove the roof from his coop and put the cargo carrier back together.  (He'd better hope for sunny weather, though, for the chickens' sake.)

(You may be noticing a theme here --- Joey and Mark did the work while Daddy and I stood around and looked pretty.)

Sawing by hand

We needed a support to form the corner across from the doors, so Joey cut an old two by four to size.  He lives in an off-grid, underground house, so he did all the sawing by  hand.  Mark and I are less hardy, so we brought a power drill to make fastening faster.

Adding an egg access hatch

Coop with perchesThe other materials Joey had in abundance were old cabinet doors.  They just happened to be the same length as the bigger doors were wide, which made it easy to use the cabinet doors to fill in the other two walls.  We hinged three of the pieces to make access doors --- one in the front at the top for the chickens to go in and two on the side to make an extra large egg access hatch.  (You can't see it, but there's a nest box inside behind the darkest cabinet door.)

Before we closed the coop in too much, we also added perches.  Joey had an old mop handle which he cut in half to make two corner perches.  (You can barely see them in the photo to the left.)  Then, just below the top access door, we added a longer perch made out of two by fours.  The idea is that the chickens come up the ramp, walk onto that perch, then hop down to the nest box using the corner perches as aids.

Cheap chicken coop

Here's the nearly finished coop.  Joey's going to add a few more hinges on the various access doors (we only brought three hinges) and some smaller boards to the ramp to give the flock better flooting.  I'm looking forward to seeing whether our Sussex are bright enough to make this inventive coop work.

We'll send Joey home with three hens, a rooster, and an automatic chicken waterer to make daily care a breeze.  He'll just have to supply deep bedding material and some chicken feed.



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