Chickens roosting in the run at night rather than in the henhouse?

Chickens roosting in The Garden Loft chicken coop at night

Three of our chicken coop designs (The Garden Loft, The Garden Coop, and The Garden Ark) have an integrated henhouse and run. So your chickens are free to move between the two areas as they wish. (You can add a door between them if you like.) In some cases, this means that your flock might choose to roost in the secure run at night, rather than inside the henhouse.

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Drawstring to retract chicken ramp.

7 tips for building a garden-friendly chicken coop

In the urban or suburban garden, limited space, pests, wary neighbors, and the like can make the idea of keeping chickens seem like more hassle than it’s worth. But by designing and building the right kind of coop, you can quickly get past these hurdles and add a whole new dimension to your garden.

Here are seven tips to put your coop project on the right path. . . .

1. Let your chicken coop breathe.

Window on the front of Dan's Austin chicken coop.

A well-ventilated chicken coop helps keep your hens from suffering and your neighbors from complaining. Of course, you do need to stay ahead of any odors, making sure you balance out their poop with plenty of high-carbon bedding like straw, wood shavings, leaves, or shredded paper. We use the deep-litter method and continue to add straw as the chickens add droppings. This mixture begins to compost in place, and the volume builds only slowly. From time to time we move it all to a compost bin to finish doing its thing, then incorporate the rich fertilizer into the garden.

NOTE: The pictures in this post feature coops built by us and by customers of our chicken coop plans. Click on them to learn more about each DIY chicken coop build.
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Make It Your Own: Reva’s Garden Coop “Mini,” Portland, Oregon

This cute Portland chicken coop was built using The Garden Coop walk-in chicken coop plans.

Using one-by-twos, they fashioned a lip to keep the bedding in place.Reva hired a local handyman to build a modified Garden Coop to house her backyard chickens. She sited the coop beneath a large yard tree and reduced its size so that it would fit the space perfectly. Inside the henhouse, she framed in a raised lip around the hens’ entry hole in the floor to keep the litter in place.

Thanks to Reva for the pictures and ideas. Check out our coop plans to build your own stylish chicken coop or tractor. Or click to see more examples of what others are building.

To paint or not to paint? That is, the henhouse floor.

A glimpse of the painted hen house floor of The Garden Ark chicken coop, B.C. (before chickens).

You know you need to protect your chicken coop from the elements outside. Wind and sun, rain and snow take their toll on your poultry pen over time, and a good wood sealer or exterior paint on the outside of the hen house goes a long way toward preventing this damage.

But what about protection from the “elements” inside the henhouse? Face it, a lot more comes out of a hen’s vent than just fresh eggs. And depending on the design of your henhouse — whether you have a special poop tray, a slotted floor, or a bare floor covered in bedding — you have to consider whether you want to paint the hen house walls and floor to make cleaning up their droppings easier.

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