The first question was where to start on this journey, luckily, this was an easy one. There was a pressing issue we needed to overcome, that was the old hen house.

The old hen house

This was just picked up at a local garden centre and it wasn't going to do what we need. It had already been expanded with additional nesting boxes and was showing signs of age as the roof was de-laminating and so it was starting to harbor red mites (which is bad, but treatable). The coop wasn't as large as we wanted and it couldn't cope with the additional number of hens we wanted to get. Critically though for the project, the door went sideways, so there was nowhere sensible to put any mechanisms or batteries to make the project work, at least not without a serious risk of chickens getting hurt, so a new one was needed.

We had 8 hens, but we wanted more, but all the standard hen houses are designed for 4-8 or so hens only - although Hens seem perfectly happy to pile up on each other to stay warm in the winter months - seemingly taking it in turns to be on the outside on different days, either that or we seem to catch them playing Chicken Jenga

After lots of searching, we eventually found the Monmouth Major from Green Valley Poultry and we knew it was the right coop as it can take 14-18 hens and it could be purchased with a 30 high stand.

Simon at Green Valley was contacted and was happy to make a custom base for us that was a bit higher than normal (Thanks Simon), so we ended up with one that is 60cm high, this was to allow us to get in and grab a sick hen or the next one that needs it dose of wormer, etc. Importantly, it will provide some extra shelter during the wet and windy months, plus the all-important dry dust-bath area.

However, this was a build to order and it had to come from deepest, darkest Wales to us, so there was a couple of weeks wait... so we waited and got on with something else.