Are you looking for a coop that needs very little maintenance and has ease of use? Make sure you include these top 5 time savers to add when building a coop! They will put you at ease and help you do chores in less time year round. If you want to have a low maintenance chicken coop these are 5 must-haves for you.
1) An automatic programmable coop door:
This by far has been my best purchase and the biggest time saver to add when building a coop! I ordered the Chuxaway automatic door online and got it within a few weeks. They are expensive, but so worth it! I chose a battery operated unit as power on the farm can go out at night quite often and I couldn’t find a unit that had battery backup for memory. The majority of the work: Fitting a small plywood door that had to be as light as possible to extend battery life. It runs on 3 AA batteries all summer never fail and I replace the batteries about November 1st for winter. If you are looking to buy one – This unit is similar.
TOP TIP – Use Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries for never fail reliability if it gets colder than -20 degrees Celsius. Why does this matter you ask as the chickens aren’t going outside at -20 anyways? Well when the batteries have no power to the unit for more than an hour, it loses all its memory and you will have to go in and reprogram it all. And the chickens need a bit of fresh air for the day even if they stay in the coop. The first half of the winter I went through so many alkaline batteries that would not work for more than a few days. I put the lithium ones in and they have been going for months with no issues.
I re-set the timer a few times a year to adjust to when my chickens go in to roost. For example, now in July the sun doesn’t go down till almost 10 pm so the chickens stay out until about 9:30 so I have the coop door close by 10:30 just to make sure everyone is in. Wintertime everyone is roosting by 6 pm and I set the door to close by 7 pm. I adjust the door to let them out at sun up as they are more eager in summer to go out. A little bit of watching your chickens and you will know when to have the coop door open and close for the day. I haven’t locked any chickens out as of yet.
2. A roll away nest box to collect eggs outside of the coop year round.
I ended up building my own nest box because no design that I could purchase did what I needed. I needed a nest box that would roll the eggs to the outside of the coop wall so we could collect them outside and that the chickens could not reach them either. Over winter a few hens seemed to eat the eggs possibly out of boredom, so I had to ensure this stopped. I installed this on the inside of the coop and the part with the clear lids went through the coop wall to the outside of the coop.
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3. A large enough feeder hanging on the wall.
I bought this feeder at Peavey Mart but you can also get them Here. It holds just about one 25 KG bag of feed. This is great as the chickens cannot waste a speck of feed if you hang it at the right height. They can’t flick any out with their beaks as it has an inner lip to prevent this. I have zero food waste on the floor with this model.
4. A large metal waterer with a heated base for winter.
Do not waste your time on any other plastic waterers or heated waterers for our Canadian winters like I did when building a coop. I went through a few waterers before I bit the bullet and bought this one. They are a bit more money than the plastic models, but worth it for peace of mind and year round use. I bought the 8 gallon metal waterer and this heated base. I added a thin sleeve of foil insulation for our winters to help keep the heated water a bit warmer. The outer sleeve just pulls up and the base stays on the ground so you just fill it up from the top, and put the outer sleeve back on. By far, this is the easiest to refill, best by volume and no fail heated waterer in the coop for our Canadian winters as it did not freeze once. Come springtime I just put the heated base away and continue to use the waterer outside.
5. Poop shelf for easy cleanup of the coop’s mess.
The majority of poop in the coop is deposited in the coop at nighttime when the chickens roost for the night. By installing a small shelf under the roosts, it keeps the poop more contained in one main area. This makes regular cleanup quicker as you have a smaller area to scrape and remove. I put Linoleum down on the poop shelf when building my coop to make the cleanup easier. I usually dust the poop shelf with straw or shavings just so the cleanup is easier.
These are the basics for any coop, but these are the top 5 biggest time savers to add when building a coop that have really put me at ease. Everyone is busy and this saves me more time to sit in the shade and watch my chickens in the yard scratching for grains. See what works in your coop, with your lifestyle, set it up and enjoy!