Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hilltop update

The last time I left Hilltop chicken-coop, looking like this...

Just over a week later, it's changed a little more...

I removed the nest, the tin from the inner wall, and the step in the doorway. We learned how unhelpful the step was, when a chicken developed a leg injury and couldn't get out into the run. It's also no good if you want to push a wheelbarrow into the coop.

If you're looking to design a coop of your own, learn from our experience and avoid "steps" - especially if its the only way your chickens can access outside areas.

I decided to turn the bracing used for the former wall, into a new, roosting perch...


I used short timber offcuts, Dave got from a skip, to help support the beam. When he first brought the offcuts home, I wondered what on earth I could use them for? Only a few weeks later, I found they were just the right size (ready cut) for my roost.

This new roost was essential, because even though I haven't had chickens in this coop for over twelve months, the old roost was in terrible shape...

 The Leaning tower of Poultry

It's was a much shorter roost and on a dangerous angle, due to termites eating out the support. It wasn't treated wood, like the rest of the posts. In fact, after five years in the ground, the support posts were still in great condition - which I learned after digging two up!

Dirty work

I decided to bring the coop size within regulations, so no side can be longer than 5 metres. The longest side on Hilltop was 5.5 metres. It was only 50 centimetres, but it meant peace of mind if anyone from Council (County in the US) came calling.

 old post (left) new post (right)

I had to dig out two existing posts and relocate them in their new positions, plus I had to install a third (new) post, between them. Now is the tedious job of digging up the tin which is 600mm down.


The tin is to help deter foxes and has worked so far. This is really back breaking work though, so I'm taking a few days off. When I started getting irritable, I knew it was time to step-back and rest.

 Looking like a building site

Like any renovation, you have to learn to walk away from an unfinished project. Things don't always get finished in the time allotted.  I promised myself I wasn't going to go overboard with this project, which means physically, but also financially.

I purchased 3 pieces of wood so far ($60) and after some modifications, I realised I won't need it all. I can use the extra lumber for another project later down the track. I'm still able to reuse all existing screws, bolts, hinges and lumber, which is why I'm extra careful when demolishing.

I would really like to have the roof back on, but it will have to wait until I'm ready to get cracking again. I'm happy with the progress to date.

I'll get there...eventually.


  1. I admire you Chris! I couldn't do this job on my own.
    Your council has regulations on the coops? So within those specs, how many chickens are you allowed?
    We need to build a coop too-Garry got our hens on a whim and they were in the barn with the llama and alpaca so were safe, then we put up a wire cage for them in the barn itself which still keeps them safe (they free range all day) but not as warm as I would like. A friend gave me a pamphlet on how to build a coop but having time to build it is an issue for us.

  2. We're allowed to have as many chickens as we want, so long as they're 1 per square metre. Isn't that a horrible measure? I'm thinking of having 6 chickens in this coop. It's approximately 5 x 3 metres, so roughly 1 chicken per 2.5 metres. If I can build a large enough run around the coop via fencing, I may up the chicken numbers.

    Time though, yes, its a rare commodity!

  3. I want a new chicken coop too, Chris and have been looking on the web for ideas. Hubby has so much junk around that materials won't be a problem...just the manpower!

  4. Time definitely seems to be a premium nowadays! We struggle with getting enough bodies (namely our own, lol) to get everything we need done. I'm literally wrestling with time, every moment I'm in the coop. Will be worth it one day, when its all finished. :)

  5. It's a huge job and I can so relate to learning from previous decisions. Also to leaving things undone because of time and other demands. My life is a string of undone things.

  6. Your porch project definitely looks monumental! The dismantling is only the first phase, then comes the planning and construction - all of which takes time and money. Progress happens in phases. At least there's the comfort of knowing it will be finished one day. :)


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