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02 Fittings and Equipment

The coop has the usual fittings and equipment: perches, ramps, nest boxes, litter, water and mash dispensers, and lighting.

Fittings and Equipment in the Coop

Fittings and Equipment in the Coop

The ladder ramp on the right of the photograph is designed to enable the chickens to reach the roosts on the left. When I originally built the coop, I only fitted the two perches on the top left. However, I noticed that the birds were having difficulty at dusk getting from the ramp to the perches (although they are not really roosting yet anyway, preferring the ramp) so I added the lower perch in the middle. This is seven inches above the ramp and seven inches below the upper roosts. If I find that the birds get used to getting to the top perches without the need for the middle perch, I will get rid of it because it makes the coop a little more cramped and reduces the room for the birds to spread their wings. It also means that if the birds roost on the middle perch they will be soiling the litter underneath during the night. I am also going to see if I can put in a second ramp off the lower one to get to the top perches, but it might be a little steep. If it works, however, I will be able to get rid of the middle perch.

Top Perches with Droppings Board Beneath

Top Perches with Droppings Board Beneath

There is a droppings board, made of more plastic posters, under the top two perches. Once the birds start roosting on those perches, this board will reduce the amount of excreta around the coop. The purpose of the wire under the perches (it runs under the perches to the back wall of the coop) is to stop the birds from getting onto the droppings board.

Above the top perches on the back wall and just under the apex of the shed is the light controlled by the timer outside the coop. I am using a 15 watt bulb to light the coop before dawn.

Nest Boxes

Nest Boxes

There are three nest boxes in the coop, under the droppings board for the perches. Each nest box is about 15 inches high, twelve inches deep and the same width. Having seen the birds in them already, they are more than adequate for their needs. As you can see, the nest boxes are made from rough cut-offs, mainly blockboard and marine ply, with a bit of rough timber as well.  The nest boxes are mostly screwed together, except for the front top boards, which are nailed on. The boxes are screwed to the back wall of the shed and to a supporting plinth beneath.

The floor of the nest boxes is made of two narrow wooden battens at the front and back and these support the remainder of the floor, which is made from the same strong chicken wire that is in the removable front frame of the coop. The front boards are about five inches deep and give the birds a bit of privacy when in the nest. At the moment, I have hay as the bedding in the nest boxes, although the birds are not laying yet.

There is about four inches of litter on the floor of the house. At present, the litter is mainly peat moss with a small amount of wood shavings mixed in. I hope to get some straw shortly from my neighbouring farmer when he harvests his wheat crop. I don’t know yet how often I will have to change the litter, but I expect I will have to do it every month or six weeks. The birds seem comfortable enough on the litter so far.

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