Chicken Coop Stories From Around the World

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Hey everyone! If you’ve ever emailed us with questions about building your chicken coop from the plans you purchased from us or general poultry raising questions you know we’re always happy to help.

We are so blessed to get the nicest people contacting us and we wanted to share some of the interesting notes we’ve recently received from our community. Our community ranges far and wide…

…like Emmie, who wrote to us from Australia, where she has a flock of Australorps:

“In addition to the wonderful eggs and entertainment benefit, I consider my chickens (“chooks” in Oz) an important part of home security.  I live on the edge of swampland and deal  with snakes every summer.  I discovered years ago that movement in and around the yard, animal or human, discourages them from coming too close.”

ByTeneche(, via Wikimedia Commons
ByTeneche(, via Wikimedia Commonsdiscourages them from coming too close.”

I think that’s an interesting observation she’s made.

Emmie goes on to say:

“Early in 2000 my chickens had a 4 ft tiger snake bailed up at the back door.  They were all pecking at it (must have thought they hit the worm jackpot!) and my husband dispatched it quickly.  It would have died from infection of the peck wounds, anyway. Go chooks!”

I can certainly imagine this (although I may have some nightmares from it).

More Readers From Afar

Continuing on with our customers from outside the U.S., Jill wrote us from Bermuda, excited to get her book of chicken coop plans:

“Yippee!!! So geeked right now, my family ran a dairy farm and when I was younger we used to supply the island with eggs. Government took back the land and there’s only one on island chicken farmer now… but it’s a new start!” We’re really hoping she’ll share more with us on how that goes.

Courtesy of Dawn Nurse
Courtesy of Dawn Nurse

Closer to home, and dealing with another pest issue (smaller than Emmie’s snakes), Dawn wrote and asked “I want to know if my hens can eat these caterpillars which are all over my cauliflower plants, I don’t want to give them as food if they may harm them but if I can would be a great source of food, hope you can help”. Our reply: Those are the caterpillars of the cabbage butterfly and they can be very destructive. Let the chickens eat as many as possible and good luck!

Courtesy of cskk via Flickr
Courtesy of cskk via Flickr

We also get a lot of questions about breeds. ModicaFarm asked us if Silkies and Rhode Island Reds were a good mix. Our response: “They should be. Both breeds have pretty docile personalities. There will be a good size difference between the two though which may cause some pecking order issues but if they’re all raised together from the start (and you don’t have roosters) you should have a pretty peaceful group.”

RI Reds seem to be pretty popular with our readers. Brian and his wife are raising chickens in the Detroit area:

“Read your article on RI Reds, very interesting and I’m glad we made the choice we did. I started reading through your site and I really enjoyed it. My wife and I have been looking for a home on some acreage to start a small ‘organic farm’. It’s been a little tough finding something but that’s our ultimate goal. Your site is right up our alley! “

Courtesy of Oregon Department of Agriculture via Flickr
Courtesy of Oregon Department of Agriculture via Flickr

Questions About Chicken Breeds

Toni is a frequent writer. She and her husband have some land in Virginia. They’ve raised cattle, Boer goats and hay. They’ve now got a good size flock of chickens, a horse Toni trained herself and rides, an orchard of fruit and nut trees and they sell their excess eggs. Although Toni claims to be “slowing down” due to her age (she’s 70; her husband is 79), we find it hard to believe! She wanted to know about frizzled cochins. We told her:

“It’s pretty interesting – on the Frizzles, their feathers curl forward instead of laying flat so they look curled! But their feathers don’t keep them as warm as other breeds. People say they’re a good choice if you are concerned about your birds flying over fences, since their feathers make flying difficult. Because they can’t fly though, it may be hard for them to roost. They have feathered legs and don’t lay a lot of eggs (only about 3 per week) but they make good mothers. Being banties, they’re going to stay small (males will weigh 30 oz and the females 26 ounces). According to the My Pet Chicken website, “Like Silkies, Frizzles are favorites of children and all others who are young at heart.”. 

You’re Never Too Old

Toni’s not our only reader who inspires us: Billie, age 83, had some questions about her flock: “I was thinking about increasing my flock of 5 to maybe 10 but I think I will remain happy with 5. My chicks were purchased in April and were old enough to already be getting little feathers. One out of 5 is now laying perfect but small brown eggs. The weather has been 100 + . They get the best food and I feed them twice a day and keep a good supply of fresh water. Any suggestions? If I turn them loose in my gardens, won’t they eat the plants?   I am also afraid they will fly over the 4 ft. fence and at 83, I can not chase chickens in the neighbor’s yard.”

We replied, “If the weather’s been over 100 degrees that would affect their laying. When it gets that hot, they’re gonna slow down. You could try giving them some cold pieces of melon (or even overgrown squashes) to peck at and see if that helps a bit. Do anything you can to cool down the coop. The breed you have will determine the size of the egg. As far as flying over the fence, that also depends on the breed. Plenty of mine wouldn’t even think of it (for a 3 foot garden fence) but my Dominiques and Rhode Island Reds sure would, if there was enough to tempt them”.

Some Sad News…

We get questions about other types of poultry as well. Sadly, Nanci wrote, asking about an issue with her Rouen duck, Squeeky. “About 6 days ago Squeeky started going off by himself. We were told he was depressed because mating season was over. Two days ago he started having problems walking. We were told to give him electrolytes which we give him thru a syringe. He is about 1 1/2 years old and when the girls come back to see him, he’s very alert. My ducks are free range.”

Courtesy of mikenan1 via Flickr
Courtesy of mikenan1 via Flickr

The most heartbreaking thing was not being able to help her or Squeeky, who died a few days later. If there’s anyone out there with experience with ducks who’s gone through something similar and can offer advice, please let us know. Meanwhile, we empathized with their family and their loss.

…And Some Good News

Steve wrote and told us, “My house is sort of like the old TV show Green Acres. My wife went to the feed store for pig food (we have a mini pot belly pig as a pet) and came home with the feed, and the chicks.  We have 5.  I am not sure if they are hens or roosters, but we will figure it out when they don’t lay eggs! I will send pictures when we are done with the coop!”

One Heart Wild is a nonprofit sanctuary in Washington that rescues hens and horses. They used our coop plans (The Mul-T Coop) to build a coop to house up to 20 hens and allow their clients (at risk kids) to visit with them, bringing healing and teaching empathy. According to Drea Bowen, the director, “the chickens are a huge hit with everyone”.

And Melissa made our day with her note: “I recently decided to start raising chickens in my yard so that my family always has access to fresh eggs (as a baker I go through a ton). My kids are super excited and have been helping me with research on raising chickens. We thought your page, had some really great info and we wanted to pass along a thank you. A big thanks from future chicken owners. Have a wonderful day!”

And we hope you all do too! Email us with your news, updates and questions – as you can tell, we enjoy hearing from everyone!

Helpful Resources

If you’re not familiar with what we have available for resources, please take a look here:

To find examples of customers’ coops built, using our plans: Success Stories

And, as always, never hesitate to contact us at

How To Find Cheap and Free Construction Materials (for any purpose!)

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So we’ve all been there: money is tight, but we have big plans to help our family with various projects (such as chicken coops). We look at the costs involved for the building supplies and we think to ourselves ‘we just can’t afford this right now!’

Paying attention to detail

This type of negative thinking prevents a lot of people from fulfilling their dreams of building gardens, sheds, chicken coops, and even just regular ol’ home improvement projects. Below I have outlined several tips and suggestions for getting around that so you can move to the construction phase of your big ideas quickly and easily.

    1. ASK for cheaper wood! Go to a lumber yard and speak to the manager or owner. You can also call, but the old saying ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ so they’re going to see a potential customer RIGHT in front of them and be more willing to play Let’s Make A Deal than if you call. Ask them if there is any hardwood or construction lumber they would like to sell quickly and cheaply. Be careful with wood marked as ‘infested’. If you get wood which is marked as this, generally it can be frozen or sealed to kill any bugs in it, but I wouldn’t risk it personally. Check for insect activity before purchasing. Generally a smart manager will give you a good deal on wood they can’t sell for various reasons. And if you happen to run into a not-so-smart manager . . . move on. There are a million lumber yards so don’t waste your time. Most managers and owners know that you’re really doing THEM the favor by taking that wood off of their hands. It would cost more for them to dispose of it and this way they’re not losing as much money. It’s a two-way partnership.


    1. A lot of people will turn their noses up at wood that has knot holes and imperfections in it so ask for wood that people have returned (this works for lumber yards as well as your major hardware stores). It’s generally still good wood, but it didn’t meet their high standards of ‘pretty’. Sometimes entire bundles will be marked as rustic or second grade lumber when in reality only a few pieces on the top are imperfect. Other people’s snobbery is your gain!


    1. Don’t be a jerk. No one wants to talk to or give anything to a person who has a chip on their shoulder or an entitled attitude. Take a page from my wife’s book of Southern Charm and eat a spoonful of sugar before talking to anyone about getting free or cheap items. A pleasant tone of voice and a friendly smile goes a long way toward getting what you want in a subjective agreement that is usually off the books.


    1. Check the dumpsters around places under construction or behind hardware/lumber stores. I don’t recommend actually going inside the dumpster, but good items are generally left right there either on top or in front of dumpsters frequently. Think I’m joking? Years ago when I worked for a well-known hardware store chain that begins with L, we often threw away entire stained-glass doors, sheets of drywall that was missing a corner, charcoal grills, tons of good lumber, a million and one old wood pallets that could be used for a ton of things, and many items that came back from deliveries since we had a policy of removing the old appliances when delivering new ones. Many things were demos that we couldn’t actually sell so we had to throw them away! And when doing construction, companies will often purchase more than they need and the rest gets tossed. Just finding places to go ‘cruising around’ will be worth the weight in gold later. Things like this really irritate me because Western culture is so focussed on the ‘bigger is better’ mentality that good items are thrown away. It’s wasteful, but you can benefit from that and so can your chickens! The best part is that almost no one can tell that you got something from next to a dumpster unless you tell them so if you’re still nervous about keeping up appearances, don’t be.


    1. Visit the recycling center in your area and question them about construction items or other bits and pieces which may work for you. Old doors and windows, etc. Usually this stuff is free for the taking and almost any plan or blueprint you read can be adjusted easily to accommodate a recycled window or door instead of building one from scratch.


    1. Freecycle and Cheapcycle are both great groups to join on yahoogroups. Check out the rules for your local group, but usually you can both browse the ads and then post your own want ad for things you’re looking for.Craigslist has a dubious reputation these days, but if you follow basic safety rules you can generally sniff out great deals. People often want things picked up for free instead of paying to have it taken to the dump so they’ll happily give you extra construction items they no longer need. Just look for ads or post one of your own there.Need cheap paint? Go to any paint store or major hardware store and ask where they keep the mistakes. People often not only return paint because it isn’t exactly the right color for them, but the mixers also make mistakes sometimes, too. So it’s just a matter of sorting through their shelf to find what you want. When I do this I make a note on an index card of what type of paint finish it is, what brand, and then dip half the card and dry it so if I want to go back and get that exact same color again I have a paint chip for a color match with all the information on it. It worked great when I was repainting our daughter’s bedroom!


    1. Look for ads where people are wanting old barns torn down. You might not even have to do all the work, but you can sometimes lend a hand in exchange for as much of the wood as you can carry. The wood is generally older and well-seasoned so it’s great to use for chicken coops, garden sheds, and dog houses!


Until later,