I never thought I’d ever say this… but I now have a chicken coop in my backyard! And not just any chicken coop. A tiki coop!
My guy and I have been working on it off and on for the last five weeks… putting in a few hours here, a few hours there, taking a week off… and we finally finished it last Monday. Just in time for our new chickens to move in on Tuesday!
We built the tiki coop and run with plenty of room for our three girls to stretch their wings out, as we’re not always home to let them free-range during the day.
The coop itself sits inside an enclosed run, with a ladder leading up to the pop door, and a sheltered area underneath for food and water.
Inside the coop, the walls are painted a semi-gloss yellow and the floors are lined with linoleum for easy clean-up. A roost hangs above a poop tray, which is also lined with linoleum. All the linoleum sheets slide right out for a good wipe-down.
We put kiln-dried, medium-coarse pine shavings on the main floor of the coop, and diatomaceous earth in the poop tray. The diatomaceous earth is super absorbent and keeps odors down. Every other day I sift poop out of the tray with a small litter scoop.
A triangular cutout serves as an open pop door, giving the hens free access in and out of the coop. They wake up with the sun and tuck themselves in at night. Since they’re locked into the run, a closing door on the coop was not necessary.
Another triangular cutout leads to the egg cubby, which I’ve lined with plastic nest pads.
I know — they look barbaric, but I’ve read that chickens like to rest their tushies on these things. The plastic keeps mites and lice at bay, and the “drainage” holes allow droppings to fall through (to a linoleum-lined floor). When the girls are ready to lay, cleaning the nest will only involve a quick spray of water from the hose.
Two windows give cross-ventilation inside the coop. We even built in an “attic,” which we’ve discovered the hens love to sit in and look out the window.
In keeping with the tiki theme, the roof of the coop is covered with banana fronds from our trees (and vinyl pond liner underneath to prevent leaks). As the fronds age we may have to replace them, but luckily we have a neverending supply in our garden!
The bamboo from our garden was used as lath to trim the edges of the coop and add an extra layer of security over the hardware cloth. We also tied long stalks together with jute twine just for looks.
I love the way the bamboo is already starting to change color and look more weathered.
On the side of the coop, a large door swings open for access to the egg box and a storage area to hold tools, food and treats, and other supplies.
In front, a tall door leads to the run, and beside it are an access door to the coop and a door to the feeders.
The run is covered in fine grained, washed plaster sand. Combined with a little diatomaceous earth raked into the surface, it’s one of the tidiest options I’ve found for a run that sits on dirt. We had a big rainstorm the day after we loaded in the sand, and it dried out quickly. It doesn’t get muddy or dusty. And speaking of, the chickens love to luxuriate in a dust bath!
We treat the run as one big litter box, which makes poop patrol pretty easy. Twice a week I go in with a kitty litter scoop and scoop out all the droppings. I use a long-handled scoop with a very wide mouth (almost 6 inches across). Since I’ve never had cats, I didn’t even know they made scoops this large — you could pick up Godzilla’s poop with this thing!
The hens love to perch on the twisted manzanita branch we brought back from my mother-in-law’s backyard forest in Mill Valley. A double suet cage hangs above the branch, which we fill with fresh fruits and veggies from our garden for the hens to peck at all day. We also put in a couple of San Miguel River stones, which we scavenged from our Southern Colorado road trip.
Underneath the coop are the waterer and feeders. The waterer was made from a recycled blue water jug that we painted over, leaving a window so we could check the water level easily. We screwed in an automatic drinking cup, which refills itself from the jug as the hens drink.
The main feeder is a baby pig creep feeder that allows simple adjustment of the feed flow. I keep the flow at a low level, which minimizes waste. Two smaller feeders hold grit and oyster shell, all served free-choice.
The girls seem pretty happy in their new home. Now I just need to start collecting some kitschy tiki decor to complete the look!
So there you have it — the Garden Betty tiki coop! If you want to know the nuts and bolts of how we actually built it, stay tuned for my next post…