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Chicken Drama and Coop Plans

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WE KNOW DRAMA… This is the tag line for TNT, the television network. And though I’m sure whatever shows they’re putting together are full of unbelievable plot twists, they may not measure up to the drama our feathered gals have been displaying in our backyard. Our three hens have been acting like someone stole their man and then burned down their coop. It would be comical if it wasn’t so inconvenient for us. It would also be a lot easier if we hadn’t named our ladies… because then I’d feel much less guilty having roasted chicken (or chicken salad) one night this week and putting an end to the drama.

Our chicken drama began several weeks ago when Boy Gardener came running in from feeding the hens to tell us Pearl (our Orpington) was bleeding. I’d noticed a few times in the past that the other two chickens weren’t always “nice” to her, but they’re chickens, so I didn’t get too involved. But poor Pearl had really taken a licking from the others this time. A good-sized spot on the back of her neck was featherless and clearly pecked. (Here are the girls in happier times.)chickens

Our local veterinarian suggested separating Pearl for three days, then reintroducing her to the others. Luckily, we have a chicken tractor (rolling coop) we could put her in. It wasn’t ideal, but she wasn’t being hen-pecked either. He also noticed that Copper, one of our other chickens, was molting, so this could contribute to her extra sass (i.e. straight up meanness).

Three days passed, and I let them all out to roam the yard late in the afternoon. As the sun started to set, they all bobbed their way to the hen house. All seemed peaceful. Then the ruckus began. An episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey was unfolding in my backyard. As I opened the door to the coop, Copper and Cocoa (Rhode Island Red? Wyandotte?) are perched on the roosting bar pecking at poor Pearl. That girl can’t catch a break.

So quarantine continues, and after another failed re-entry attempt this weekend, I’m thinking we may need to build another small coop, since she can’t stay in the tractor forever.

Small, DIY Coops

Since we’ll hopefully not need this small coop forever, I’d like to spend as little as possible. I’d also like it to be sturdy, so when we’re through with it, someone who is just starting with one or two chickens could use it. Here are some plans I’ve been looking at:

  1. Pallet Coop from DIY Pallet Furniture. Roadside pallets could be put to good use here.

pallet coop

2. Doghouse Coop from Glass Slipper RestorationDoghouse Coop

3. Repurposed Materials Coop from Bless This Mess Please. This may be the most realistic, since our tractor is simply a rectangle enclosed by chicken wire with no real place to roost. Adding a hen house to the top seems the easiest option. (It’s like a penthouse for chickens, hah!)repurposed coop

I’ll keep you updated on our hen drama, but I’d love to know if any chicken owners out there have had this same experience. Our vet assured us that this is normal, especially when they’re molting, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be able to live together in the near future.

Any suggestions for chicken harmony are welcome! Have a great week!