Make It Your Own: Rob and Tansy’s Veggie Garden and Chicken Coop, Bendigo, Victoria (Australia)

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Rob and Tansy's Australian Garden Coop chicken coop from metric instructions
Spring is right around the corner. . . in Australia, anyway, where the season starts the first of September. In honor of that, I’m featuring the gorgeous garden and coop of Rob and Tansy K. of Bendigo, Victoria. They used the metric version of our plans to build The Garden Coop to house their chooks, modifying the size somewhat to fit atop an existing brick raised garden bed and to incorporate found and recycled materials. The result is not only a beautiful backyard chicken coop, but one with character and history right from the start. Read on for more, including a look at a regional magazine feature that showcased their creation. The rest of the post comes directly from Rob. . . .

Our home food garden in Bendigo

My wife and I have been building an extensive home food garden over the last few years in Bendigo, Australia (about 100 miles inland from Melbourne). For us, the next logical step was getting chickens. Our garden is quite large — on a standard block, we have 14 bricked garden beds and about 20 fruit trees espaliered around the fence line. It’s underneath these trees that we have set up outdoor runs for the chickens. We turned one of our rectangular beds, 2750mm by 1250mm, over to the coop. Directly adjacent to the run under the fruit trees, we added a small door at the back of the coop to facilitate chook access.

Victoria garden with chicken coop from plans

Our first adaptation was to resize the structure to our smaller space by reducing the width of the middle section and the depth. We moved the door to the end of the coop to retain the door size in the plans. We have bolted the coop directly to the brickwork, dug out and lined the bottom of the bed with the hardware cloth and then back filled as an alternative to the method in the plans.

The timber sizes available to us in regional Victoria are a bit limited, so we settled on 45mm x 90mm timber for the outer frame, which meant quite a bit of retallying numbers, but we were doing that anyway for our resize. We ended up using 3m long timber lengths instead of 2.4m as it fit the measurements nicely and gave us minimal off cuts.

Australian chicken coop from plans

From there, wherever we were able to, we used recycled hardwood timber from a wall we had removed during our kitchen renovation a couple of years earlier. The front and rear boards of the house section are recycled from an old hall building. We used the offcuts from using these boards to rebuild our garage door first, which is why the back section is in so many pieces! We liked the mix of colours and the rustic look, so simply sanded them back and clear coated them for protection.

Recycled boards on hen house of do it yourself chicken coop

To finish it all off, I had been eyeing off a vigorous stand of bamboo along our railway line for some time, so gleaned some of this for the rungs on the ladder, perches in the house, and details such as latches on the cleaning and egg doors.

Chook house ladder

Finally, I put together a sign, for the door with a stenciled Australorp on a couple of the recycled board off cuts. Our house is number 30, so we gave the chickens their own address, 30A…

DIY chicken coop sign

Featured in Bendigo Magazine

We were also very happy to have our coop featured recently in Bendigo Magazine, a seasonal magazine focusing our region, as part of an article on our food garden. Have a look!

Bendigo vegetable garden featured in magazine spread

Why we chose The Garden Coop metric chicken coop plans

We had a look at coops and prefab coops online and struggled to find something that fit with our environmental and aesthetic ideals. We also visited Portland in 2011, staying on an urban permaculture farm and loved the city, its food, and environmental culture. We were quite pleased when we stumbled upon The Garden Coop website, and it didn’t take long for us to make the purchase of the plans and get started on our coop.

We found the metric instructions very straightforward to follow and easily adapted to our particular needs. Also, seeing other peoples’ takes on the design showed that it’s more than simply a set of instructions, it’s a culture of sorts. I would not have said I was a skilled craftsperson at the outset of building the coop, but I have learnt many new skills and techniques along the way. So I would happily recommend these plans to anyone looking at building their own coop.

We have a one-year-old boy at home who is now enjoying the wonders of home chicken raising. We have 5 Australorp hens and a few rumpless Araucana. The chickens love their coop, we love the coop, and everyone we show it is highly impressed with the design and the aesthetic. We’ve recommended it to a number of friends and community gardens already and will keep doing so. We look forward to many happy years ahead with our new chicken family!

–Robert and Tansy, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia

A big thank you to Rob and Tansy for building their coop with our metric chicken coop plans and for staying in touch. I’m impressed by the fact that, while a lot of parents feel they need to leave their backyards in grass for their kids, they have created a more interesting, lively place for their son to grow up in. If you like what they’ve done, let them know with a quick comment below. And if you’d like to receive email notifications as posts are published, subscribe to Coop Thoughts

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