This one has been a long time coming. I've lurked BYC for several years, deciding what I wanted to do and prepare. Three years ago I moved out of San Antonio to an unincorporated, rural area at Canyon Lake, Texas. I'll have more space to spread the thing out and the operation won't be bothering any neighbors. Right over my fence a neighbor has a 12-chicken setup. My materials and tools list will follow the build details.
The first piece of business was landing on a coop design. Things got easy when a charity I work with decided to reorganize one of our facilities. A very dear, late friend--famous sniper (as such things go) and general protection officer, triple-retired from government service--had procured an old guard shack from a decommissioned Air Force base. Getting things found and getting things done were among my friend's areas of specialties. He also knew productive ways to make things disappear when disappearing was the thing to get done. We had the 4' x 8' shack at one of our activities centers for several years. It wound up ultimately being in the way, so I took it from that place, back round my place. It had a couple of broken windows and was badly in need of paint.
After cleaning the interior and removing the remaining broken glass, I decided to seal the horizontal surfaces. I rolled and brushed on Glidden porch & floor sealant.
I then put a base coat of beige over the entire exterior. The finished job required two full gallons of this color. The old wood sucked up the paint.
After filling some water-rotted spots I trimmed the windows and edge and underside of the roof with a white latex, and added a ramp at the entrance. The ramp also got a couple of coats of the sealant.
I laid indigenous limestone around the base. The shack is on an incline, and I used cinder block materials to elevate it approximately 8-10 inches so as to allow for ventilation, hopefully avoiding moisture damage from the soil. The grade runs down to a perennial creek in my yard. During periods of heavy precipitation, there is a spring that rises on my property line. There was plenty of rock available there, and I'm considering digging down to the spring and adding a manual pump for emergencies and so forth. I allowed the structure to remain slightly out of level, in the direction of the creek, and drilled holes along the down-dip edge to afford drainage when hosing the interior on cleaning days.
I will add supplemental interior feeding by affixing PVC to the rear of the shack, but built a 4' x 4' area, covered with galvanized, corrugated steel, to hang feed and water trays behind the shack. I built two gates out of 2" x 4" x 8' boards, and painted one beige for the front of the main enclosure. I cut cedar from the property for fence posts along the runs. I used a Johnson bar, post hole digger and a trenching shovel, most of the holes being 18-24 inches deep. I used 4' x 4's and landscape timbers for the front and rear gate posts.
I used as many natural materials that were already on my property as possible. I cut up an oak branch, knocked down by Hurricane Harvey, and screwed and glued it into the corner near the laying areas for roosting. I added trim boards to the forward edges of the shelving integral to the original shack, so eggs won't roll off. I've decided to put 1" branches on top of those to make for more roosting surfaces, and to prevent bumblefoot from smooth wood.
Rather than adding built nesting boxes, I drilled then cut rectangles providing access to the laying shelves, outside the structure, with a jigsaw. At a nearby construction site, I got permission to retrieve some wooden siding scraps. I used those scraps to form access doors, and screwed on wooden knobs. I installed hook and eye latches to hold the doors in both open and closed positions. Brass hinges provided a nice aesthetic.
I folded two-foot poultry netting, stapling one foot up each post, leaving one foot to drape on the exterior edge of the entire 100+' of fence line, tapping aluminum tent stakes at intervals along the way. This should help protect from burrowing varmints that might try to dig under the fence. I'm told they find the mesh discouraging, and will cease efforts quickly when encountered.
I installed 4' fence, with 2" x 4" welded wire, all the way around the primary enclosure. Thin-gauge steel wire was used to tie in the poultry netting every few feet. At the edge of the secondary enclosure (approximately .2-acres total area) I had steel railing and a gate, providing access to my garden. I leveled the railing and gate, then fixed their positions with tent spikes/stakes. I then tied in both the 4' welded wire and poultry cloth to them. At the terminal end of the exterior enclosure (third photo below) you can see my neighbor's coop and yard across my fence. I plan to have no roosters, but her roo might have other ideas after he gets a gander of my ladies.
My door is 1/2" plywood hung with 7/8" rollers of the type available for closets. The rails were already in place as part of the guard shack's original design. I added a piece of trim board to the inside floor, limiting swing and offering support so the rollers don't come out of the tracks. To the exterior edge of the floor, between the door and the ramp, I used roofing nails to affix steel flashing for rot prevention.
I have sliding windows on two sides. They will remain closed during cold periods, and open during hot times. I will stretch poultry netting across the exterior of the openings, staple and screw it in place.
There were a few odds and ends added on to round out the build and push the theme.
In honor of my friend that gave me the chicken shack, a wonderful man who called me "son," an Army sniper instructor gave me a sign they had laying around the shop. I purchased the smaller one from a scientific equipment company.
Yesterday I bought eight different types of pullets to color up the yard. Today I received the gift of a puppy that will perform as my service animal, a Sheprador, donated by a retired Security Forces NCO that is now a law enforcement K9 officer. It's taken me a year of hard work to get this all assembled. I see fun times ahead.
I'll probably add a couple more photos and maybe a video before I close the book on this post. I dedicate my little project to our War Veterans. In their time, they lay in wait to visit doom on the evil of this world, so we may sleep peacefully and warmly in our beds at night. I hope you've enjoyed the read.
TOOLS & MATERIALS
Pre-built 4’ x 8’ structure
One gallon of Glidden porch & floor gray sealant
Two gallons of exterior latex beige
One gallon of exterior latex white
8’ x 4’ x ½” plywood for door and ramp
7/8" rollers for door (two doubles)
Two 4” x 4” x 8’ posts for gates
Caps for gate posts
Two hinges per gate
Two latch assemblies for gates
Handles for gates and door
Wood siding scraps for egg doors
Brass hinges for egg doors (two each)
Two wooden knobs for egg doors
Two hook and eye sets for egg doors
150’ poultry netting
110’ of 4’ welded wire, 2” x 4”
Steel flashing – 3’ cut to size
Post hole digger
Various nails, screws and staples