The chicken coop is part of the proverbial hearth and home of our homestead.
The chicken coop is where a lot of the self-sufficiency of any homestead comes from, since the chickens provide and help prepare so much of our harvest. From producing eggs and compost to helping turn over dirt for spring planting, chickens touch on almost every aspect of homestead life.
If you’re planning to get chickens this spring, you’ll need a coop. The coop is the alpha and omega of the backyard chicken owner. Without it, your chickens are subject to the rain, wind, and predators.
If you’re even a little bit handy, you can build your own coop, and save the $900 or so you’d have to spend if you simply bought a coop. Pretty much anything goes as long as it keeps your chickens dry and safe from predators.
If you want something truly beautiful, though, here’s 16 sustainable ways to upgrade your chicken coop!
Upgrade your chicken coop’s curb appeal by planting blueberry bushes around the coop and trimming them so they look like boxwoods. The pruning will give your coop a tight, clean look, yet still be functional.
2. Add a dust bath
Chickens need to dust bathe for their health, so consider adding one in the coop or pen for them. They’ll thank you by acting goofy while they clean themselves. Wood ash mixed with sand is one way to create dust for them, and it will help deter mites and lice.
3. Add a screened pen (but be sure to use hardware cloth, not just a screen)
If you want to watch your chickens and their antics, add a screened pen with a roof to their coop. Your chickens will appreciate being able to get outside and stretch their wings.
4. Add an interesting stone walkway to the coop
When we moved to the homestead, we began collecting large rocks that we could use in some project. If your coop is some length from your house, add a stone walk way. It will save your yard from foot traffic, and will make the walk more pleasant in wet weather. I plan to install one as soon as we can break ground.
5. Add a reclaimed window
Instead of letting an old window go to the landfill, find an old but interesting antique window on craigslist, and install it into your coop. Make sure to make it a good fit to keep out the elements. You can paint it or leave it for a weathered look.
6. Use reclaimed wood to add barn doors instead of a regular door.
Add some architectural interest by using barn doors to keep your chickens in at night. Just make sure you can secure them at night. Use reclaimed wood for an interesting, textured look to upgrade your chicken coop to a new level.
7. Add a solar-powered chandelier light to the coop
If you want to keep your hens laying all winter, you’ll need to add a light to their coop (without at least 12 hours of light, your egg production will drop off). Upgrade your chicken coop by adding a low-voltage, solar powered chandelier light.
8. Instead of using regular nesting boxes, consider adding baskets.
Your chickens may or may not use them, but adding in baskets filled with hay and herbs will add a pretty yet functional touch to your coop. Be sure to secure them to the wall well enough to make them as enticing as possible.
9. Add a skylight.
When it’s winter, and your chickens don’t want to go out in 3’ of snow, they will thank you for a sky light. It also makes cleaning the coop and checking on your chickens easier.
10. Add a green roof
Instead of a regular old roof, consider adding a green roof to your coop, You can even grow tasty treats and herbs in it for your chickens. (If you want to make this even more sustainable, you can compost your chicken waste to use in the green roof. Just make sure the roof is able to hold the weight of the dirt and is waterproof. This is a great, green way to upgrade your chicken coop. Here’s a gorgeous example.
11. Add a cute country-inspired sign.
You can make a sign yourself using reclaimed wood with these plans or buy one here if you don’t have the time to make a sign. If you sell your eggs, a sign will let everyone know you’re open for business.
12. Plant climbing flowers to add country charm.
A climbing plant that flowers will add English cottage charm to your coop. Try climbing roses, or if you live in a warmer climate, try jasmine to make the area smell nice. Whatever you use, make sure it’s not poisonous. Consider flowers that will attract bees that will help pollinate your garden. Or, if you have an apiary, bee-friendly flowers is a nice sustainable addition. You can use your chicken’s waste as fertilizer, closing the loop.
13. Instead of a regular water bucket, try using a concrete planter for drinking water
If you don’t want to look at a water bucket, try using a concrete planter for drinking water. It will add a nice touch. If you don’t want to move a heavy item, you can use a liner to make cleaning easier. It will last longer than a bucket also.
14. Plant herbs inside the coop for your hens.
You’ll have to cover the plants to let them recover if you want to keep them there permanently, but if you’re starting seeds anyway, and can keep a consistent supply, plant the herbs in boxes directly in the coop to upgrade your chicken coop. Your chickens can peck at them whenever they want, and scratch through the dirt.
15. Add a picket fence
For a country touch, add a picket fence around your coop. Use reclaimed fencing if you can find it.
16. Add landscaping and edging
Upgrade your chicken coop to the next level by adding landscaping and edging (more than just blueberry bushes). Bonus points if you creat a sustainable system by using your chicken waste as fertilizer and growing chicken-friendly edibles.
How will you upgrade your chicken coop this spring?
Until next time!
I participated in Mis-Adventures Monday!
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.