Monday, November 23, 2015

Chicken Coop Improvements

With winter settling in, pretty much on time, it was time make sure the birds are going to have open water all winter long.  Last year we ran an extension cord down to the coop to power the heater in the heated dog bowl we used.  It worked out pretty well right to the end of the winter where the cold and wet took advantage a nick in the insulation and roasted a 1/2 inch of cord.  This year we wanted to improve on that a bit.  We liked the dog bowl, but wanted something better than the rolled out extension cords we used last year.

 I put together sort of an interim solution:  I purchased a 150 foot (something like 47 meters) of 12/2 (with ground) direct burial electrical cord and cut it to the 120 or so feet I needed.  On one end I put a plug that goes into an outside outlet on the house, on the other went a standard electrical box.  I wired the box so that one outlet is always on and the other is switched with a lighted switch (so you can find the switch in the dark). 

Standard metal box with 'ears' for nailing to a wall stud.

 Right now the line is out on top of the ground (the snow, actually) whenever the snow melts I'll tuck it down in the soil.  It doesn't need to be deep, but it does need to be out of the way of the mower and any digging projects you are even considering doing.  I may directly wire the 'source' end into the house wiring when I either determine I'm not violating any codes or that it's truly safe to do so either way.

The path up to the outlet on the house
Into the bottom, "always on" outlet I plugged the dog bowl.  This provides sufficient heat, even on the coldest days to keep the water open for the birds.

The cord runs right up to the outlet.

As a side note, the new feeders we put in have proven to be almost waste free!

In the switched outlet, I plugged in a set of white outdoor Christmas tree lights I bought after Christmas last year, just for this purpose.  I put fencing staples where I wanted to string the lights, then tie-wrapped the lights to the staple.  This will make them easy to replace when the time comes.

Lights plugged into the switched outlet

Run over the top of the door to where the birds are.
And run around the inside of the coop roofing.
De and I like this arrangement so far.  It's not painfully bright, but there is enough light there to count the birds and make sure all is well before closing up the coop for the night.  We haven't decided yet as to whether we would consider putting the lights on a timer to try a coax a few more eggs out of the girls during the short days of winter.

The other improvement we made was to add another bit of roost.  When I trimmed down a couple of existing branches to make it easier to get in and out of the chicken's area, I reduced the amount of available perch space forcing some of the lower order birds to roost on the perch outside the nesting boxes.   After adding the new bit of perch space, they seem to slowly be working everyone back into the main perch.

They find the flash I used rather disconcerting.  This was before we added the lights.

 In any case, there it is.  Improvements seems to come in baby steps on the Hoosier Country Homestead, but they do come!

Col. 1:9-12,



  1. Forward progress! Every little bit is a relief and motivation to keep going!

    1. Yes, and it will be nice to have power close down there for other things occasionally, too.

  2. How can the rest of us possibly compete with your chicken coop that gets decorated with Christmas lights?!? Our hens would be so jealous . . .

    1. It is nice, but I drew the line at colored lights, flashing lights, or one of the little music making things that play "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas", or "Grandma got run over by a reindeer" over and over again. That's just over the top!