Caity and family built and customized a beautiful Garden Coop a few years ago for their backyard flock in North Carolina, full of added features and decorative touches. Now they’ve completed yet another amazing coop — a Garden Loft Large Walk-in Chicken Coop that outshines even their earlier masterpiece. The rest of this post comes directly from Caity. . . .
We started keeping chickens about six years ago, and we built The Garden Coop. It has held us in good stead, but, as happens, we have caught the chicken bug and decided we wanted more hens—and a bigger coop.
As it turns out, this was right when the new Garden Loft chicken coop plans came out, so it was a no-brainer! We made quite a few changes stylistically, but the bones are true to the original design. The plans were, as last time, awesome, easy-to-follow, and error free. And. . . . . . ta-da!
We made several modifications to make our coop more flexible. Our ideal number of hens is 4–6, but it’s not easy to guess exactly when to get the new chicks to keep the numbers consistent, not to mention the headache of merging young pullets with older hens.
To make that easier, we essentially divided The Garden Loft into two coops. One side is for the older hens and one for the new flock, until they’re used to each other and can be merged. The side for the new flock has removable roosts, so when we’re not merging flocks we can use it to store food/bedding in a perfectly pest-free place. Using it for storage is also why that side has two large doors instead of a pop door — easy access.
In the event some of our older hens hang on longer than expected, the interior wall is also removable (6 screws) so we can open it up for more space. The ladder for the chick side is attached with a quick-release hinge so we can take it off when not in use. There are hooks under the hen house so we can store the ladder, unseen, when we don’t need it.
It’s not usually cold in North Carolina, but a couple weeks a year it gets in the single-digits, so the chick side is also insulated and doesn’t have a window or an external nesting box. So if we’re worried about weather, we can pop them into the chick side where they’ll be warmer.
As for the outside of the coop, I really liked the elevated look of the original Garden Coop, so we shortened the siding to leave it open at the bottom and did a faux board-and-batten just because I like it. We added a window with a plexiglass shutter because we like to peek in, and to add circulation in the summer.
We also made the entire footing out of cinder blocks so we could fill the run with sand. We did this with our other coop and it worked awesome both for drainage and for keeping it clean, as we scooped it once a day with a kitty litter scoop.
Because we were cutting the henhouse in half, I added exterior nesting boxes to free up some space. I have two tots, so I built on a ladder so they can get the eggs, and it stows away for when they’re not using it (and to make it harder for the 1-year-old to get on there unsupervised). I added a gas lid support to the nesting box so little fingers won’t get smashed, and the nesting box opens up on the bottom for easy clean out.
We’re in the process of adding the hardware cloth skirt, then we’ll be done! As for our old chicken coop — the neighbors are arguing over who gets to take it off our hands. Farewell old friend!
P.S. One quick tip: if you decide to replace the recommended roofing panels with galvanized metal like we did, add an extra panel to increase the overlap. Ours flooded like crazy and we had to go back and fix — ugh!
Many thanks to the Swifts for again sharing their pictures and notes. They’ve built and personalized another amazing coop using our chicken coop plans as a starting point!
Like what they’ve built? Please let them know with a comment below. Then keep browsing to see more of our Make It Your Own chicken coop profiles.