I have been using the Catawba coop as a brood coop. This is the third batch of chicks that have been raised in the Catawba coop since it was built. I wanted to take this opportunity to share some observations and lessons learned over the past three seasons.
First of all, though the coop is holding up nicely and is very solid, I wished I would have painted it. I had every intention of painting it as soon as I put it together but it never happened. One of the things that attracted me to the design was that it used dimensional lumber which I thought would be easier to paint.
Additional Chicken Wire
The plans for the Catawba coop call for using welded wire on the bottom portion of the ark. This is important to keep predators out.
I have had the unfortunate experience of raccoons raiding one of my coops in the past during the middle of the night and killing a brood of baby chicks. I use an automatic chicken door these days so that I don’t forget to lock the chickens up at night.
However the welded wire fence is too big to keep the baby chicks in. This leads to an awkward situation of the chicks being able to leave the coop while the mother is trapped inside. This is very upsetting to the mother hen. The solution is to just staple some chicken wire over the welded wire.
Two Person Lift
In my experience, the Catawba coop is a two person lift. The coop ends up being very heavy. I could drag it around if I really had to but having someone to help makes moving it much easier. In order to protect the lawn, the coop will need to be moved every couple of days.
A Lesson Learned The Hard Way
The Catawba coop has two nest boxes. I learned the hard way not to put a broody hen in each nest box at the same time. One of my hen’s chicks hatched first. This new mother hen then got aggressive with the other broody hen and forced her off the nest. I had to separate them.