First, my other coop pages:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-coop-journey My big Chicken Coop Complex
https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/alaskans-smaller-coops My Muscovy Coop and my Poultry Overflow Coop/Pond Coop
Cost was ZERO! I did use power tools...so technically I spent some money on the electricity to run the tools. I did use lots of never before used nails and screws already sitting in my screw bucket. However, I also used old nails and screws, some of them slightly bent. And yes, you CAN screw in a slightly bent screw...just do it slowly!
We used up every single still slightly usable long piece of wood from my junk pile. I kept scrounging the construction pile at the town dump, kept looking through the local Facebook pages for free stuff I could use, and kept collecting shipping pallets. However, I still had to work with a LARGE amount of small wood pieces, and slightly rotten wood. If I hadn't had so many screws already on hand, I never could have made it for free. Towards the end I was scrounging in the dump for wood that still had good screws.
The one thing that helped tie all of this together, and gives me hope that the entire coop will hold up, is that the two horizontals that I put up on top of the posts are cedar 4x6s from a log home kit. I found them on the ground, where they had been stored in a rather swampy area for over 20 years. They only had a tiny bit of squishy spots, and one is a bit warped, but they are lovely, very long, and look great.
- to spend close to zero
- to have it as invisible as possible (spouse had clearly said no more coops)
- to have it close enough to the house so that winter chores are manageable
- to make it as large as possible with the given restraints
- to house my bantams
- lots of venting, lots of wind blocking, sheltered space for water outside of the coop
- as predator proof as possible, so the pop door can always be kept open.
Side note on predators
I chose a spot in the middle of an elderberry thicket. This spot is not at all level, and I am worried that water might be a problem in the spring....we will have to wait and see.
Here is a starting picture. Putting in the posts took a LONG time. It was difficult to get them straight, and level, and perfectly even. I didn't have enough long enough ones. So, I put the longest four ones in the corners, three shorter ones between the better ones. I used 4x4s for all but one post where I had to use a post from a spruce tree. We also spent a good amount of time digging ditches between all of the posts and sinking in long wood pieces, to act as a digging edge. Nope, this wouldn't work at all for you people with raccoons.
My main predators are:1. Everything in the weasel family..and this cobbled together coop is not going to keep those out, so we will have to pray. (haven't had one yet)
2. Dogs, I have had lots of loss due to dogs. I worked hard to make sure that this coop would keep out dogs.
3. Every raptor known to man. I focused on this too, since they have also taken a goodly number of my poultry. I am confidant that the coop will keep them all out.
4. Bears. How about we just pray they don't try, hum? If they do, I will add electric wire.
For those who want to know how it ends up looking:
(note, I goofed in the drawing, the posts are 4x4s not 6x6s)
A picture of its awesome stealth-ness. The green corner is our trash box. The garage is way in the back left (mustard color) the barn is way in the back right (red color). The little bits of wood hidden behind the brush is the bantam coop ends where the run will be. The elderberry bushes hide it much better when they are covered with leaves. In this photo they are already starting to loose leaves.
Outside South long wall. You can see how we cut the brush back to hide the coop in there.
Inside of the South long wall. The window will be in the wind proof run area. The open square is wired and will be right outside the coop. The back part of the South long wall is a ripple plastic sheet that will bring more light into the coop. For those thinking that a window in the run is silly, we have a goodly amount of wind, it will block the wind, but still let the sun in, so it is awesome.
Here is my attempt to chart out this South wall that you see above. In the diagram below, you are standing inside the coop, looking South. The extra "hanging in the air" beam extends into the run area. The edge of the run door frame is secured to the beam. (I go into that further down on this page).
Inside North long wall. The solid wall will be in the coop, the uneven edge will be in the sheltered part of the run, to act as a bit more wind protection. That open strip on the back wall will stay as a vent, and simply be covered with chicken wire. Notice the poor quality wood, and the lots of little short pieces.
Put up the truck top roof, and we screwed an old dry erase board to the long North wall. That dry erase board is LOVELY, since it covers up the many many slight gaps between my many mismatched boards. The poop shelf will end up going up against the dry erase board. The post hole digger is in the hole we are digging for the front wall post. The front wall post is there on the ground. We had totally run out of good strong and long 4x4 posts. This one is two short 4x4s that are held together by a 2x4.
You probably can't see it well, unless you open up the picture and squint. However, I added a few diagonal boards to help stabilize the walls. The truck topper came with the wood frame that you see. (not the coop, but the wood boards that are on the sides and over the top of the topper)
Got the front coop wall UP! We put in one more, dug into the ground 4x4 upright, to help support the front. This last upright had to be a cobbled together one (two short 4x4s that are held together by a 2x4) With this coop not being the sturdiest thing, I didn't want any slamming of the door to stress the main walls or roof of the coop. I used a shipping pallet as the bottom support for the window, and found a pretty sturdy piece of wood to span the entire opening, act as the header for the window, and tie all of the walls together, and try to get the coop a bit sturdier. The coop door is two separate pieces. The bottom slides back and forth to act as a pop door. The top opens for a human door.
In the picture below the door and pop door are both closed.
Here the human door is open, and you can clearly see the ripple plastic window inside the coop. The ripple plastic sheet is an old torn up one, the back corner is ripped off, that is why you see the shadow on it in the back. That is lots of little bits of scrap wood holding it stable and covering the hole. The pop door is closed.
From a distance. I now had NO MORE good posts! I was down to only metal T-posts, and not long ones either. I also had this door frame. Great! Oh interior door frame (I know, it is gonna rot pretty fast ain't it?) you are now the entrance to the run! I did find one short 4x4 that I put into the ground on one side of the door frame. On the other side of the door frame, the very top touches my hefty horizontal, and is screwed to that. As a result, it is actually very stable, no wiggle at all. (surprisingly)
I had some concrete reinforcing wire, I covered that with chicken wire, and tossed that on top as the roof for my run. All sides of the run are dug into the ground at least a foot, with either wire or wood, or both. In this picture you can see the short 4x4 supporting the door frame, and the T-posts holding up my wire walls. In a later picture you will notice that I add one more T-post to the run wire walls.
A close up of the double layer wire roof.
I put two T-posts on either side of the door frame, and slid in a bunch of strong wood. This way, they can all be pulled out if you want to roll a wheelbarrow in, but they are good and strong and dog proof when in place. I need dutch door type doors for my runs, otherwise I can't open the door all winter long. With a split door like this, I don't have to do any (or at least not much) shoveling. That last T-post helping to hold the fence up is in place, and the door to the run is up. We have also gotten all of the top wire cover to the little run extension. (to the left in the below picture)
Chickens moved in, the people door closed and pop door open. Looks good!!
Inside picture of the poop tray. Notice that I made the front edge a 1x4, AND I also have a 2x4 perch in the middle. In my big coop, I have the same set-up and it works well. They all face outwards, all the poop falls into the tray. (I have heard that other people aren't that lucky but it works for me). I was all about to use a very old, cracked and slightly rotted plywood piece for the poop tray. I had one of my boys spend a great deal of time removing all of the nails from the board (there were a BUNCH in there). Then, I did one more dump trip, and found two LOVELY, looked like brand new 2x8 sheets of plywood WITH lovely screws, AND 2x2s!!!!! All we had to do was cut a bit off the one end, move one of the 2x2s over, and tada! A poop tray!
I used an old wooden box, a few scrap pieces of wood, and two kitchen cabinet doors that I found at the dump to make a double decker nest box. (I love the dump, I don't know why more people don't do all of their shopping at the dump. Dudes! The dump is FREE!) The wooden box is the bottom nest, I put scrap wood inside the wooden box to hold in hay. And then I put scrap wood along the top edge of the box to hold in the hay for the upper nest. The kitchen cabinet doors make the nests dark, but open nicely to make it very easy to see and gather eggs. It is set up under the poop shelf.
A simple schematic of the nest box placement under the poop tray.
1. The silly chickens are roosting on top of the coop door, which is CLEARLY not a 2 inch wide perch. I have tried several different things that have failed....I need to figure out something else. Luckily, it hasn't been very cold this winter, so don't worry, no toes have been lost!
Top door closed, bottom door open. And yep, nothing is level, the walls aren't level, so I couldn't make it level. However, it is good enough, don't worry, the eggs will not roll out!
Both doors open.
I hope you liked it. Me, I am just SUPER happy that it is DONE! (or at lest done enough that the chickens could be moved in)
Now that it has been standing for several months, I am thinking that two things need to be changed...
2. I am thinking that I need to add a second poop tray on the back/west wall. This poop tray would be lower down, and mostly act as a landing pad for the chickens. They do not always like flying up to the current poop tray, it is a bit high. However, to put in a poop tray on that back wall, I will have to move the nest boxes over. That makes me think that I will not get around to it until summer.