Chicken Coop Build
As first time chicken owners, we were excited when it came time to build our coop & run. We put in time researching life with chickens in the desert, and used other’s tips for informing our build. We decided to build a roofed coop & run that was buried 1’ in the ground.
We have five chickens, each named by a different member of our family. Dottie, Bug, Turbo, Petey & Dixie. Each with her own personality. Our girls free range for a few hours each day, as we both work from home and can keep an eye on them.
Due to lack of shade, we built a roof over the entire run & coop, and raised the coop off of the ground. This provided a 3 wall shade area for the girls to take cover during one of our notoriously windy days out here in the Mojave Desert. We really considered the position of the coop and run. After marking out the shade throughout the day, we were able to build the run so that there is some shade in there at any point of the day.
Because we live at the base of a protected desert mountain that is part of the Joshua Tree National Park, we are right in the heart of predator country. Mountain Lions, Coyotes, Snakes + Hawks are plentiful and hungry. This was at the forefront of our minds when we set out to build our coop.
Thanks to Instagram, we were able to salvage free materials from a motel renovation in Joshua Tree. We had to buy some new lumber, but luckily the only grocery store in town offers a $5 coupon for our local hardware store on the back of each grocery receipt. By making multiple trips over a few days, we were able to save over $30 in materials, which equals out to a few free 2x4’s! We purchased hardware cloth online, as no feed supply or hardware store within 45 minutes had 1/2” hardware cloth. We felt it was important to get a tighter hardware cloth to protect against snakes.
All in all it cost about $200 to build the coop, and took roughly 2 full days to build. Although we spread the build out over a few half days.
This video takes place over a few days, and we did miss a few key aspects of the build. One of them being the burying of hardware cloth blanketed out through the trench. From our research, we decided to blanket out the hardware cloth to deter digging coyotes. If they hit 1 foot of hardware cloth, 1 foot down, they probably will give up attempting to dig under our coop wall (that is also buried in the ground.)
The other key part was Justin digging the trench with his dirtbike, ha! Our ground is so rocky and dense, that shovels just weren't cutting it for us. We have a video of that on our Instagram Highlights, just click the Chicken one to see!
Our coop has two doors. A smaller one for them to have access during the day. One larger one to help us get in there when it comes time to clean it out and access the nesting boxes. We open both doors after the sun lets up to help ventilate the coop before the girls go to bed.
The finishing touches on the coop & run were a nice painted ladder for the girls, some outdoor roost bars, and a paint job using left over paint from other projects.
Around dinner time, we usually hang with the chickens in the yard. Dottie will jump right up on your lap, and loves getting pet. Dixie wouldn’t even think about coming near you, unless to peck at your toes. We’ve really enjoyed raising our hens from day old chicks, and we really can’t wait until they start laying eggs!
We are new chicken owners, not experts. We know there is plenty to learn that comes with time and experience. However, we wanted to share the video of our build to share a peek into our life as we take steps towards a more sustainable, homesteading lifestyle!
We had a blast building it together. If you have respectful advice or tips, we welcome them!
Jayna + Justin