Make It Your Own: Dan’s Garden Coop on Austin’s “Funky Chicken Coop Tour” (VIDEO)

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Dan in Austin produced this beautiful video of his backyard coop, built using The Garden Coop chicken coop plans. His coop is one of several to be featured in Austin’s upcoming Funky Chicken Coop Tour (April 7, 2012). 

So check out the video, then read Dan’s review of our plans below. And if you’re in Austin in early April, stop by and see his coop on the tour!

Dan’s review of The Garden Coop plans

Dan also sent in some photos of his coop and notes to help others using The Garden Coop plans to build and customize their own walk-in chicken coop:

You have another happy customer down in Austin, Texas. This was my first “real” construction project and, while it took longer than I expected, I learned a lot and have no regrets about going all-out to build something great. My neighbors and coworkers have been following the project, and they are absolutely amazed at how nice it turned out.

Dan used The Garden Coop chicken coop plans to build this coop, featured in the 2012 Austin chicken coop tour.

I initially looked at hundreds of different coops in dozens of different styles, but none of them seemed to be suitable for my needs. Living in Texas, it was important to me that the design had good ventilation and protection from the sun.

Two young pullets hanging out in their backyard chicken coop.The open-roof design works fantastically, and I like the semi-modular nature of the interior walls. Right now I am leaving the interior walls off so that heat can dissipate easily. The extra height makes it much more pleasant, and my 7-week-old pullets love to roost way up high in the “jungle.”

Some observations:

  1. I used rough-cut cedar. It wasn’t until I had made the outer walls that I realized that this throws off the measurements a bit for certain areas (such as the human door). Adjusting for this was pretty easy, but this may be worth a mention for other novices such as myself.
  2. I used deck screws just about everywhere rather than nails so it made it easy to go back and correct the occasional mistake.
  3. I didn’t want to have to wire the upper and lower hardware cloth together, so I trimmed the cloth and stapled it together at the halfway point all around the coop. Then I wired extra cloth to the bottom where it is sunk into the earth. It worked OK, but probably wasn’t worth the effort.
  4. I learned that some hardware cloth is just warped — particularly at the outer edges. Getting it to stay flat was tough until I bought a different brand from the hardware store.
  5. Don’t work with wet wood, particularly the fence siding. Mine shrunk up almost 1/4″ in some places. so I had to redo a few boards.
  6. Until I have more plant-shade on the side of the coop, I’ve slapped on a reed “fence” panel from the hardware store. I’ve been too busy to trim and line this up well, but it should look nice.
  7. I found a really nice combination bolt-latch that should be safe. . . as long as I don’t tell the raccoons the combination.

The external nest box on this Garden Coop chicken coop is secured with a predator-safe combination lock.

Surviving the heat

Dan wrote again recently to share his experience with The Garden Coop during a brutal spell of Texas heat. Here’s what he said:

The coop served us well during a record-breaking heat wave last summer. We had 85 days of 100°+ heat, and I think that the wrong coop design would have been a disaster. Some of the tricks to keep things cool are:

  1. A cheap mister line which is zip-tied to the hardware cloth on the ceiling.
  2. Reed fencing, trellis, and an extra platform for shade.
  3. Interior plywood walls are removed in summer.
  4. Front window hinges open for ventilation and is covered with hardware cloth.
  5. Interior henhouse door can be left open for ventilation.

Here are a few photos showing some of the things Dan mentions above — the mister, trellis (two views), and open window on the henhouse:

Mister attached to keep things cooler during summer heat wave.

Trellis for shade on backyard chicken coop.

Trellis for shade on The Garden Coop.

Extra window allows for even more coop ventilation in summer.

Visit Dan’s blog for more

As you can see from his video and photos above, Daniel has continued to modify The Garden Coop to suit his changing needs and ideas. You can read more about his coop modifications — and chickens and garden — on his urban homesteading blog, From Our Garden, including this post on how he added a trellis to the side of his chicken coop.

Many thanks to Dan for sharing his video, pictures, and ideas. Like what he’s done with his coop? Let him know with a comment below. And pass on the ideas!

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5 Responses to “Make It Your Own: Dan’s Garden Coop on Austin’s “Funky Chicken Coop Tour” (VIDEO)”

  1. Jeremy says:

    Do you have more details of how much of what size lumber and such you got for this? Awesome work by the way. Hope mine will be half as good!

  2. Dan says:

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

    Terri- I’m sure that yours will look great too. Hopefully we’ll see some pictures when you’re done. I did a lot of research on how chickens handle temperatures and it sounds like they do much better in cold weather than in hot. Bring ‘em some warm porridge!

    Annie- It’s something we still struggle with since our garden is so new. There’s a great book about this kind of thing that just so happens to have a Garden Coop on the cover.

    We first sectioned off the delicate areas with tall wildlife netting tied to poles (about 4-6′ tall). The hens crashed into the netting a few times before they learned to be wary. When we replaced it with short welded wire fencing (nowhere to perch up on) I guess they just went right on assuming that it was an impenetrable barrier! I’ve seen them get startled and fly over the various fences a few times, but they seem to be confused about just how they managed the feat. Here are some posts I made about this:

    http://www.fromourgarden.com/2011/11/supermax-utopia.html and http://www.fromourgarden.com/2012/02/back-bed-fence.html

    My best recommendation is to designate some areas of the yard that are “chicken-safe” with plants they don’t like to munch, and secure your edibles elsewhere. It’s taking some trial and error but we’re getting there. Our problem is more with plants being dug up by the hens. We find that putting fist-sized rocks or hardware cloth barriers around the base deters them. Also, check out John’s grazing frames.

  3. Terri says:

    Thank you for sharing your Chicken coop with us. It is beautiful and I can’t wait to build mine. I hope it looks like yours. I will have to insulate mine as I live in Montana and have cold winters. Thank you Terri

  4. Annie says:

    Hi Dan, How do you keep your chickens from eating everything in sight? I see you fences some plants in, but mine are able to jump over low fencing, and chomp on all that is green. I let them free range all day long, and my back yard is small. By the way, your coop looks great.

Leave a Reply to Jeremy