I've wanted chickens since I was 15 and stayed with my brother in upstate NY in the summers.
Decades later, it looks like it will finally happen. I have been chicken sitter for 10 years for several friends and have spent the last year reading voraciously here and on other chicken forums.
There's a great building on my property that I've used for many different things over the last 15 years, now part of it will house a chicken coop. A few years ago I had to replace the roof and added some deep eaves, an eyebrow and a curvy edge(mistake - curved edge looks great but doesn't shed water properly).
How it looks today:
First order of business was to move ALOT of junk out of there...and 2 other sheds and the garage. Tossed a bunch of old useless stuff, repurposed some, sold some, rearranged it ALL ......and finally had enough room to build a coop.
My design consisted of what I call 'The Envelope', a 6 sided box, 6' x 16' x 85" of 1/2 hardware cloth inside a framework of 2x2's to provide a predator proof safe house for the chooks. I will build a covered run as there are tons of predators here on my mostly wooded 15 acres. I hope to have electronetted rotating pastures off the run eventually.
Then get the windows operational, the shed has nice vinyl clad, double glazed windows cleated in for light but no ventilation, it can get hotter than heck in there in the summer. Decided to just do the upper windows at this point, as they kept it pretty cool, and may do the south windows next summer.
Bought some hinges, made some latches and a pole to operate them with, rigged some ropes hold the windows open.
Meanwhile the eaves that were left open during the re-roof needed to be covered from predators, birds and bats.
We cut and bent up the 1/2 hardware cloth in the garage and my daughter drove 200+ screws and washers in to hold it tight.
Flies were buggin her... to this day we still get big laughs looking at this photo.
Now that the windows and eaves are done, and Jen had to go back home to NC, I can start framing the coop.
I am a design drafter by trade and have drawn and designed this coop for months before cutting wood.
It went up pretty easily tho it was tricky putting it up single handedly...but I persevered and got 'er done.
The trickiest part was getting the ceiling mesh up by myself, I used some wire hangers and some 8' 2x2's to get it close to where it needed to be. Then started driving washered screws. Screws are the best way to fasten HC and if you screw up (hahaha) you can easily change it.
Before I went much further with the mesh, and I need a break from kneeling on the concrete floor cutting said mesh, I needed to get the pop door built and installed, after using a cadd model to work out just how this thing would fit and function it went together pretty smoothly. Did some tricky router work to get the groove cut into the 10 degree sill, but that was fun figuring out the router table set up.
Put a couple of eyes on the sides to hang it in the coop to check for proper location and function. Checked the up and down positions and got it as high off the floor as possible to leave room for deep bedding if I want it.
Ended up trimming that sill farther when installing and filling the gaps between the top rails with some scrap.
Pop door lock in place after meshing
I also decided before covering the walls and windows with mesh that I would go ahead and make all the windows operational. Hinges and prop sticks on the outside, they will stay open most the summer and be cleated shut in winter.
Then during another break between cutting and installing mesh I started on the nest boxes. I have always just loved the galvanized nest boxes with the round holes...can't afford to buy them, and they'd be too big for my coop anyway, so I designed a close facsimile out of 2x2 framing and a mix of scrap 1/8, 3/8 and 1/2 plywood. I used some 1/8 plywood held in grooved blocks for partitions that can easily be removed whilst I experiment with individual and community nesting situations. The nest box will be mounted in the coop wall for outside of coop access of eggs.
ETA 1-22-14 Nest boxes approximate dimensions are 16" tall x 14" wide x 14" deep, entrance hole is 10" diameter.
Meshing finally 7/8ths done. By this time I was getting pretty good at cutting the mesh quickly, having developed techniques that were much easier on my knees and hands. I never really got cut much, a few scratches, working on a huge flat surface helped. I also used a tinner tool to bend and crimp the sharp ends sticking out after each cut off the roll. The last day of meshing tho I ran the screw driver into the end of my finger..hard..it bled like hell but was rather minor after a day or so....and sliced another finger on the edge of the vinyl flooring, that bled bad too.
Had a hard time deciding what to use for flooring. After reading for hours and hours over months and months a
on BYC and other forums I decided I wanted a monolithic waterproof flooring to cover the mesh on the floor for easy cleanup and to protect the original plywood floor of the shed. (Except for a row of staples on the seam of the floor meshing, this whole coop can be unscrewed and removed from the shed.) I was going to go with the cheapest vinyl I could find...but decided that a thicker material would be best because of the wire mesh under it, especially because the mesh is not dead flat but has areas of buckles that would have been near impossible to remove....one hole would defeat the whole purpose and if moisture gets under the vinyl it could turn into a nasty, stinky, rusting, rotting mess.
I finally settled on fairly heavy duty vinyl that has a kind of flexible foamy back rather than the solid commercial grade vinyl (would have been too stiff to curve up the walls...and EXPENSIVE) or the cheap paper backed vinyl that cracked off at bending. It was a bear to move into place, but I got 'er done! It curves up about 1 1/2" on 2 sides and about 9-10" on the ends and is not attached to the coop except for a few staples on the 9-10" ends to keep it from flopping over, thus it can be removed if damaged.
Once the floor was in, I was able to install the nest boxes and I quickly built the 8' roost assembly (there will be 2 more 4' roost assemblies added later) . This was a huge milestone. There are still lots of little things to do to the coop, like wiring together the mesh seams where needed, but I am almost ready for birds!!
There are 2 doors as the coop is designed to be partitioned inside with a wall of chicken wire for isolation / integration of birds if needed. The partition wall is made from 2 - 2"x2" pieces of wood with chicken wire stapled to it, the wood is attached to the wall studs with a couple of 3" screws each, easily removed/installed. Storing some lighter weight items on top of the 'Envelope' saves some space in the rest of the shed.
The coop is 6' x 16' x 85", with 4' partitioned off for storage, isolation, brooding or other needs.
East End - Ready for Chickens!
West End - Ready for Chickens!
Roost and Tray (with 2/3 sand and 1/3 zeolite) - Ready for Chickens!
Nest boxes with straw and feed and water containers - Ready for Chickens!
'Dutch' doors are connected with barrel latches.
Top and Bottom of 'Dutch' doors are both locked with carabiners and eye screws that come thru the 1/8" plywood door stops.
'Dutch' doors allow only the top of the door to be opened and feeder and waterer can be reached without entering the coop itself...or can feed treats from there.
A simple screen door spring is installed on both doors to ensure it closes upon entering.
Ready for chickens! Hope to have them moved in by end of September.
Well, I was very lucky to get a whole flock in one shot. I knew deep down that if I built it, they would come.
One wonderful Rooster, 5 laying hens approx. 18 months old, and four - 4 month old pullets. Mix geneology of Brahma, Cochin, Australop and who knows what else, got 3 eggs less than 24 hours after bringing them home
Had to add a ramp as the roost is too high and the coop to narrow for those big ole Brahmas to land lightly on shaving covered vinyl.
Why the rooster was in the nest talkin up a storm, I have no clue!
Edited to add: Learned that this is what good roosters do, show his girls where to lay.
Updated 10-17-13 Run is 75% completed
Decided to only build half the proposed run this year, am running out of time to do fall chores.
Here's my concept for clamping the 3/4" EMT conduit to the Tposts to support the mesh top of the run.
That's 2" PVC with 1/4-20 machine screws and Tnuts. Not sure the PVC will hold up, especially under pressure like that.
Added 11-15-13: Drawing of rafter angles as requested.
I bent to about 78 degrees 7 inches from both ends of a 10 foot piece of conduit
then to about 25-30 degrees about 3 inches from the center.
Proof of concept, looks like it's gonna work!
Got the rafters that attach to the shed figured out and meshed, and the mesh between the 1st and second sections worked pretty well too.
Built the 'Under Run', about 4' x 8', so the chooks have shelter and nice place to dust bathe as the rest of the run is open.
Got an awning up to cover the pop door, that faces west and the prevailing wind here.
Glass 'Foyer' (heehee) installed......Hey, a little levity mixed with a tad of folly is good for the soul! But really, I needed a wind block as the pop door faces west with wicked winds and I had the windows laying around and they were the perfect size....so yes, Glass 'Foyer'. Awning enhanced with an extension to cover gap facing west...and the door 'stoop' excavated.
The glass has chicken wire attached to the inside as a visual barrier.
Run is DONE!!
Will post more detailed pics when I get the chance to take them.
8' x 30' and another leg the same size will be added perpendicular to this one in the spring.
It took him awhile to decide, but eventually he led them all down the ramp.
They immediately scratched up and snuggled down into some real dirt for a proper dust bath.
Updated 11-13-13 with Heated waterer that was here failed.
Updated 5-24-16 with successful heated waterer and power center that can be seen here.
Coop Partition - Self Locking Pop Door
..and finally, 2 years later on 5-24-16, pics of pop door with HC replaced
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