A while ago (I won't say how long), a friend of mine asked me to do a blog post about our hen house and share the things we like or don't like about it. I thought this was a brilliant idea, especially since we just passed the one year mark of building our new hen house, and I promised her that I would get right on that. I didn't "get right on that" but am happy to say that today is finally the day that I am sharing the pros and cons of our new hen house.
We built this new coop last Spring and have learned a lot about how well it works, so I wanted to pass on our knowledge to those who are looking at building their own hen houses. Keep in mind, that everyone has different needs depending on where they live, so these thoughts are just what works for us and not necessarily going to work for everyone.
We built the coop to house 12 hens, so we chose a size that would work well for our needs. We wanted to build it big enough for us to walk into it with ease. This was for multiple reasons, including cleaning, feeding and collecting eggs. We really like the size of the coop, as far as floor space, but wish we had built it a little shorter. It loses a lot of heat with the height of it and it definitely could have been shorter, especially since it's a slanted roof. We don't need to stand up at the very back of it.
We tried to make it nice for our hens to live in, by adding windows along the top that can be opened in the summer or closed in the winter to conserve heat.
Another thing that we are happy with is our feeding system. I originally found the idea on Pinterest and we used it in both our hen house and chicken coop. By using plumbing pipes, Dan built these feeders that use up less space and are able to feed the hens for longer. This works especially well when we go away for a weekend. We just top up their feeders and water and they're good for a couple days.
We also saved space by putting their roosts in the corner. We're quite happy with this set up.
We built three hen boxes which are accessible from both sides. We made them as cozy as possible, with a slanted board along the top to keep the hens from jumping up on top of them. We usually collect the eggs from the outside during the summer and inside during the winter. It works well for us and I would recommend this double sided idea to those who have the space to do it.
Having a light in the coop is another thing we have loved. We have both an interior and exterior light and they have come in handy so often! We use the light often during the winter months and it's nice to have the exterior one connected to the inside one so that if we forget it on, we can see it from the house.
Overall, we're really happy with how we built our coop. The three main complaints would be 1) the ceiling is too high, 2) the board along the door and 3) the run door. Let me explain the last two. When we first built the hen house, we could walk straight into it through the main door. There was nothing along the bottom and over time we found that the shavings would start spilling out or getting stuck along the edges and making it hard to shut the door. It was an easy fix, Dan just added a board along the bottom to keep everything in and so far it has worked really well. Fortunately for us, this mistake was easily remedied.
Our biggest mistake and complaint about our hen house would be the run door. We set it up so that to open it, you just need to pull on a wire and it pulls it up. This part works well.
The part that doesn't work so well is closing the run door. When you unhook the wire and let the door fall shut, it doesn't actually close all the way. It kind of stays open a bit. So in order to actually shut the door, we need to go inside the coop, pull it forwards and then hook it on the inside. It works but is inconvenient. I'm not exactly sure how we would do it differently to make it work better though.
As for our outside run, we have no complaints there. It's a nice size, well enclosed and is easy to get into. We made sure to keep the door to it elevated off the ground so that during the winter we could still open it if we needed to without it getting caught in the snow.
That about sums up my post on our hen house. It's working really well for us so far and we are mostly happy with how we built it. The hens seem content in their home and we are enjoying the eggs they provide us. Hopefully this post can be helpful to someone who is looking for some success stories on coop building. And if not, at least it goes to show that I've got myself a really awesome husband who can design such a well working hen house.