Make It Your Own: Cindy’s “Hen Hilton,” Southern Rhode Island

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Garden Coop chicken coop decorated for Christmas

Cindy in Rhode Island sent us this picture of her Garden Coop build, all decked out for the holidays. The rest of this post comes directly from her:

The “Hen Hilton”

I purchased your chicken coop plans last summer and completed the coop and pen in early fall with help from a friend who is a retired carpenter. We adapted the plans in several ways to suit my needs and the limitations set by the location I selected in my back yard.

This spot is one of the few level areas on my hillside property. Because it is under an upper deck, it is well protected against the elements, including snow. Facing southeast it gets plenty of sunshine during the day, with some solar gain through the window which warms up the coop toward nightfall. The location also complies with my town’s chicken-coop setback requirements which are fairly restrictive (40-feet from all property lines).

Modifications

Here are some of the modifications we made:

  1. Attached hardware cloth on the inside of the back wall because we were backed up against the garage. Replacing the hardware cloth, if ever necessary, will be a lot easier this way.
  2. Poured concrete footings in lieu of cinder blocks for additional stability. We sometimes get high winds here on my hillside.
  3. Mixed and poured concrete around the buried hardware cloth for extra predator proofing. Several local people have lost flocks to fisher cats, and I am admittedly paranoid about predators.
  4. Moved hen door to right wall for more floor space.
  5. Installed vinyl flooring on the floor and up the wall one foot inside the hen house. I “scoop poop” every morning — absolutely no big deal to do from the cleanout door.
  6. Enlarged the egg door so I can clean the nesting boxes or add shavings/straw from outside the coop.
  7. I’m now working on building some “chicken tunnels” so that in the spring I can let the girls out into a protected area of my backyard garden with aviary netting. That’s a work in progress so I won’t have photos for a while.

By the way, I was able to find a nontoxic sealer at my local Benjamin Moore paint store. Thanks again for the great plans. I spent months and countless hours searching for a coop and kept coming back to your design. Thanks for all the thought that went into it. My chickens are content  — and safe — in their new home.

–Cindy

Thanks, Cindy, for the photo and your great feedback. If you like Cindy’s coop or have found her advice helpful, please let her know with a quick comment below.

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7 Responses to “Make It Your Own: Cindy’s “Hen Hilton,” Southern Rhode Island”

  1. Ju Huxley says:

    Hi Cindy, I also live in South County, and we are planning a coop. Do you mind if I ask how much you spent on your materials to build your coop?
    Thanks.
    Ju

  2. Cindy says:

    Elizabeth, the seedling heat mat worked fabulously. The chickens’ waterer inside the coop never completely froze. On really frigid nights, the very top of the column of water would sometimes be iced over in the morning, but the water in the pan was always liquid. I didn’t notice a change in my electric bill with the heat mat; heat mats draw very little power. By the way, the inside waterer I use is the little (maybe 6″ diameter) galvanized pan with the screw-in plastic water bottle.

  3. Elizabeth DiPalma says:

    HI Cindy,

    I’m also in RI – South County – and just building my own coop. How did your seedling heat mat work out this winter? Sweet coop you made!

  4. Cindy says:

    Thank you for your kind comments. This is our first winter so we’re learning on the job, so to speak. Yes, I do provide straw or hay in the pen to help keep the ground from freezing. The litter quickly builds up a nice layer of compost and the chickens love scratching through it.

    In the fall I raked leaves and pine needles and put those in the chicken pen; the birds had a blast with those materials, too.

    Inside the coop itself I keep a small (chick-size) feeder and waterer along with a small bowl of oyster shell. That way, chickens have access to food/water 24/7 whether they are in the coop or in the pen. These items fit neatly just inside the clean-out door; they don’t take up much floor space and have so far never been knocked over.

    To prevent water from freezing inside the coop, I use a seedling heat mat on a layer of bricks. So far the seedling heat mat has kept the water from freezing, even on nights that go down into the 20s. I suspect that, in addition to keeping the seedling heat mat from getting covered with pine shavings, the brick platform also serves as a heat sink of sorts.

    I will find out this weekend whether the heat mat prevents the water from freezing in the little waterer when temps drop into the teens. We’ve had a mild winter so far but it appears things are changing fast as I write this message.

  5. Susan says:

    Do you put a straw bale under the roost in the winter? Or do anything else to keep the ladies warm during the coldest months? Love your picture. Something similar might work for the coop I want to locate under an existing horse run-in shelter.

  6. Amberthyme says:

    I love the way you personalized the coop. The inside hardware cloth is a great idea. We decorated our coop for the holidays too and added clean molted feathers from our girls to the wreath on their door.

  7. Roberta says:

    Beautiful coop!

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