It took us several months to figure out exactly what sort of coop we wanted to build, could build and most of all SHOULD build. Being in Alabama requires a different approach than in other areas of the country. Heat is a bigger issue than cold. Money was also an issue. I started out wanting to spend no more than $300.
We had lofty ideas of a huuuge coop. We looked at products to use, what sort of lumber, shingles or metal, OSB or plywood.. It took a while!
I narrowed it down to the following:
- I had purchased a 50 ft. roll of hardware cloth and I wanted to make that work.
- airy, but still sheltered.
- fit 8 chickens
- no more than $300
Finally, after sketching 50 different coops, my dear fiance sketched this baby up for me. And you know, I liked it!
The total floorspace is 8x12 ft. which is enough for 8 birds. The coop level is 8x4 ft. which is.. enough for 8 birds! Even the sections of wire added up to 50ft. so I had enough of that. Hoorah!
For materials we decided that we could use landscape timbers and 2x4s, instead of 4x4s or something similarly pricey. We found that the price of plywood was outrageous and the quality wasn't even that great. We ended up going with OSB.
Now, dear fiance is extremely perfectionistic and this was a bit of a 'learn as we go' project. Everytime something didn't quite line up right.. I would just tell him we were going for the rustic look anyway! The issue was that we did not account for the slope of the ground as we went. We probably should have leveled the ground, but... we made it work.
The uprights are all landscape timbers, set into concrete. The horizontal lumber is treated 2x4. The roof is OSB resting on landscape timbers.
The elevated coop is entirely open in the front. The landscape timber beams allow for a small gap for extra ventilation. Believe it or not, this coop still traps some heat and ammonia. We cut U shapes out of scrap wood to mount 2x3 roosts. The roosts can be popped out of the holders with a little force and I plan to replace them every year or so. My chickens all insist on sleeping on the top roost, although they're finally at a point where 1 or 2 have to sleep on the middle one.
The 'bedroom' is OSB with 2x4's as floor joists. I primed with diluted barn paint, then several coats undiluted barn paint. The stuff is cheap, so I can repaint it every once in a while (although it has stayed fairly clean, except for the roost 'holder').
We decided to put tar paper on the outside and we used dog eared fence pickets as siding (We found them on sale for a little over a $1 each).
Recently we decided to put up a small privacy fence toward the front of the house. Our neighbor moved to a nursing home. She loved our chickens, but the next one may not. They had a habit of hopping the fence! It also makes it less of an eyesore and it should help her sell her home. And it gives us a fantastic spot to hide the rainbarrels behind. It was one of those epiphany moments! (Yes.. that's a roaming chicken.. we're working on it ;-D )
As you can see, we are building a platform for rainbarrels, for my vegetable garden. The door for the coop was made out of dog eared pickets as well. I love the look of it!
This is the inside after they've been living in it for about 3 months. I added a little 2x3 to allow for more bedding. It works better. I started with sweet PDZ under the roosts and scooping it like a litterbox, with shavings in the other area. They mixed the two all the time, making it impossible to scoop the sweet PDZ.. so we just went deep litter. Haha. The chickens always win.
I never planned for them to free-range, but over time it just evolved that way. They're outside all day, unless it's storming bad. Under the large tree we have, there's no rain unless it's raining hard. I plan to fence in a 'chicken yard' so the kids can play outside and I don't have to worry about all the chicken poop. They're positively happy chickens and reward us with plentiful eggs.
Things I would have done differently:
-No divider in the 'bedroom', taller frontlip to make deeplitter easier.
-More nestboxes. We will have to take down some of the siding to mount more..
Other than that, I really love this coop and so do my girls. I have no issues with predators, except for the occasional circling hawk. It's easy to rake the floor and stir their litter and add some DE and fresh shavings.
(Not a chicken sandbox... it's a raised planter.. but tell the girls that!)