"Chicken (Guard) Shack" - Hill Country, Texas

Disabled veteran builds chicken coop made of repurposed decommissioned guard shack.
By DDB · Mar 4, 2019 · ·
  1. DDB
    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.

    1 chicken shack raw.JPG 4 chicken shack raw.JPG

    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.

    6 shack interior.JPG 5 shack interior.JPG 11 floor paint.JPG
    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.

    9 paint shack.JPG 10 paint shack.JPG

    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.

    12 ramp painted.JPG

    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.

    17.1 drilled drain.JPG

    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.

    12.5 feed cover.JPG
    13 fence posts.JPG 18 gates.JPG
    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.

    16 laying painted.JPG 15 roosts.JPG

    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.

    20 egg doors shut.JPG

    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.

    22 base wire circled.jpg

    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.

    100_2458.JPG 22.1 fence.JPG 22.2 fence dianas.JPG

    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.

    23 door.jpg 23.0.JPG 23.1 door rail.JPG 23.22.jpg

    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.

    23.3 window.jpg

    There were a few odds and ends added on to round out the build and push the theme.

    23.11 purina.JPG
    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.

    25 signs.JPG
    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.

    30 chicks.JPG Sheena sleeping day 1.jpg

    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.


    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
    Landscape timbers
    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
    Rock bar
    Post hole digger
    Trenching shovel
    Tape measure
    Straight edge
    Various nails, screws and staples

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Recent User Reviews

  1. TeenageRooster's Dad
    "WOW What a great project!!!!!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Mar 8, 2019
    ... question is.. if I drive by, will I be asked for my ID by a bunch of hens in guard uniforms? :barnie

    DDB likes this.
    1. DDB
      You bet you will...
  2. ronott1
    "Nice coop build!"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Mar 8, 2019
    The article needs schematics and more build details. Nice materials list and great pictures!
    1. DDB
      I'll let the Air Force know you demand the schematics of a 40-year-old, 8 x 4 structure.
  3. Wendy Case
    "A wonderful repurposed chicken shack!!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Mar 5, 2019
    I enjoyed the read, dedication, detail and photos! Not to mention the ideas.
    Thank you.
    DDB likes this.


To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!
  1. Nofowlplay
    Cool! Please add more info and pics as you go along! :goodpost:
      DDB likes this.
  2. TLHloveschicks
    Really nice!! Great job and love the pics of the baby chicks and beautiful dog:love
      DDB likes this.
  3. ChemicalchiCkns
    Checkpoint Cheep needs some "You are Now Entering the American Sector" signage.
      DDB likes this.
    1. DDB
      Hell yeah. Will definitely look into it! No kidding. Sexy-ass idea. The spot on the front next to the palm is available!
  4. DDB
    pertnear09, I can't figure out how to respond more than once to a review. If you--or anyone else--can recommend a really good article on ventilation I'll really appreciate an opportunity to study it or them. My main consideration is determining and effectively executing the difference in "ventilation" and "draft."

    Around each of the openings, main door, egg doors, the drain holes, etc., there is opportunity for air to move through the coop area--including from low areas o higher areas--without a direct flow across the area, which I would consider a "draft." If the ultimate solution is drilling larger vent holes at the top ends of the coop, this is an easy solve. I don't want to go too far and create a draft that I have to then repair.

    Again, all advice is welcome and appreciated.

    1. Nofowlplay
      Just buy a couple small louvered air vents from Lowes. Install them above where the chickens can roost. No draft but air can flow in.
      DDB likes this.
    2. DDB
      Great suggestion.
      Nofowlplay likes this.
  5. N F C
    Thank you and so many others for your service. I sincerely hope you enjoy the flock, the coop and that beautiful dog.
      DDB likes this.

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