Coop 3: Allen-Kidney Coop
When Louise Kidney and Nicholas Allen moved into their new home in Cobbham it was almost pre-ordained that they would end up keeping chickens. They purchased the home from Mary and Michael Songster, founders of the Pro-Chicken movement, which was instrumental in the legalization of urban chicken keeping in Athens.
(1) When did you start keeping chickens and why?
We bought our chickens online in September 2018. The idea of keeping chickens always appealed to me, a bit of country in the city!
Louise and Nicholas took a pre-fabricated coop and made it their own. The large covered run allows for lots of roaming safe from predators.
(2) How many chickens do you have and what breeds?
We have 3 chickens, Maud, Hermione & Aggie. Maud and Aggie are Silver and Golden Wyandottes respectively, and Hermione is a Buff Orpington. Hermione is a firm favorite, she is so gentle, loves to be petted and picked up and cuddled. Maud likes to make noise and would give any rooster a run for his money! She is such a character.
Described as one of America's "most beautiful and beloved chickens," the Golden Wyanndotte is as known for its easy going personality as it is for its distinctive plummage. Here, Aggie is enjoying some free-ranging in the garden.
(3) Where did you get your coop?
We got our coop at Tractor Supply around which we then had a chicken run built. We then extended this run for additional space.
(4) What are some of your favorite features of your coop?
I like that our chickens have plenty of room to roam on days when I don’t have time to leave them out around the garden. It has a nice balance of shade and sun.
(5) What would you do differently?
I think I would custom build the coop rather than a store bought, it it flimsy and the roof has rotted and needs to be replaced. It also would be useful to be able to collect the eggs without having to enter the run every time, although I’m always happy to pop in and say hello to the girls!
(6) Talk a little about your feeding and watering systems.
I have a large water dispenser, it’s large enough to hold fresh water for 3-4 days, at which point the water needs to be refreshed. Our feeding system that we now have ticks all the boxes for me, it’s water proof, and rodent proof, the idea for which was found online from a man in NC, it cost around $8 to make, and I can fill it up with enough food to last about 1 week. We had a regular chicken feeder before, but I always had to take it in in the evenings so as not to encourage rodents, and race down in the mornings before Maud would wake the entire town. It also wasn’t water proof, so in heavy rain the food would spoil, and one must be vigilant not to feed chickens any moldy food.
(Here's a link to the video Louise used to build her feeder.)
Tired of losing food to spillage and moisture contamination, Louise found directions to make this hanging feeder on Youtube.
(7) What considerations did you keep in mind with the coop/run design regarding predators?
There is hardware cloth in an L shape under the ground in the exterior of the coop, which prevents (or deters) anything digging under. Where we could not put hardware cloth we have large rocks.
(8) What kind of features address extreme temperatures?
The coop is not very air tight, this winter we lined the nesting boxes with cardboard and bulked up the straw to keep the girls snug at night. In the warmer months it has a little ‘window’ which can opened to leave any breeze blow through.
When Louise or Nicholas are out in the yard they let the chickens out to free-range.
(9) Do your neighbors have an opinion on you keeping chickens?
I think people are excited that there are chickens next door!
(10) Do you consider your chickens to be pets?
(11) What do your chickens eat?
Chicken layer pellets and vegetable scraps, they also like pasta and rice!
(12) Is there anything that surprised you about keeping chickens?
Yes, it surprised me that they are such characters, they really do have their own personality.
(13) Describe your coop maintenance regimen?
Changing straw in the coop on a regular basis to keep chickens healthy. I use pine shavings in the run as I find they dry out quicker than straw after a rainfall and they hold up for longer.
(14) Do you have any advice for people considering getting chickens?
It is not cheap getting set up, if your coop is going to be a safe place and hold up against predators.
(15) Do you have anything else about your coop that you‘d like to share?
We were told our coop would be big enough for 6 large hens, there is no way it would be large enough for that many hens, so just be aware that you may be mis-led if opting to buy your coop.