Our 8 year old son talked us into chickens and after thinking about it for a little over a year we decided to take the plunge. We live in an urban neighborhood that is full of wildlife: coyotes, hawks, raccoons, skunk, our two border collies...you get the picture. So we knew we needed to build a coop that was strong enough to keep all of "that" out but something that we and our neighbors wouldn't mind looking at. Little did we know that it was going to take 7 weeks from first breaking ground to complete. Granted it was the first building we ever built and we didn't have any plans, sort of a make up as you go, so it probably took longer than it could have.
First, we chose our location, hen house on the north side and run on the south side sandwiched between our apple tree to protect it from the setting sun from the west and our evergreen on the east side. We knew that our coop would work well with the seasons, warm in the winter and cooler in the summer.
Next we had to dig a trench and level the ground. After digging a trench approx. 18" deep and 6 feet wide by 12 feet long we filled it with cement and laid cement pavers sideways to help guard against critters that would want to dig underneath the coop. We also had to level the ground because we were building on a slope. This whole process took about a week to complete.
After laying the pavers we capped off our trench, so we are now able to begin framing our coop.
Having never built anything more than a yard fence we set off on our new adventure. The whole process of framing took us about 3.5 to 4 weeks to finish. We built the coop 6x12 and set our walls 6.5 feet tall.
This is a view of the hen house which is 4x6. We built it to have double doors for easy cleaning and 2 ventilation windows (for a total of 4) on either side up at the top.
We painted as we went to make sure all surfaces were covered. This is a view of the human entrance.
Side view. We also sandwiched our hardware cloth as we had seen many other coop builders do.
Our egg box
I laid vinyl flooring of a dark color in the egg box.
We built the egg box to open on the front so our son could get into it to collect eggs.
Next we framed out the two side picture windows and our roof.
Time to attach the plywood for the roof. I was lighter so I got that job.
The roof is completed for now.
Time to add the plywood walls and paint them. Also to add our hardware cloth to the windows so we can start on the window coverings.
Window over egg box.
Inside the run and a view of the chicken pop door and additional 2 ventilation windows.
Our egg box is almost complete and has turned into big outdoor storage during this project.
We decided to add a skylight for additional light before we shingled the roof.
Time to shingle the roof. Again I got that job, but I learned how to do it. Add that to my new skill list.
The roof is done.
We laid the vinyl flooring, hung the roost and finished the egg box trim.
We used 4x4 hangers to hold our roost for easy removal to clean.
We are now complete.
Hardware is on the doors and windows. Everything is painted. It's time for the girls to move in. We chose this style pop door because we figured we would be in there every morning feeding breakfast so it didn't bother us. It locks with a barrel latch at the top.
All ventilation and windows open and close to allow for airflow when needed. We open everything in the morning and close everything up at night except for the small vent windows inside the run.
Our six girls first day in their new house. I bet they are happy to be out of that dog crate. Oh the room they have now. We placed about 1,000 pounds of sand in the run, which I have found makes for easy poop clean up. Sort of like a big cat box, scoop and sift.
The girls enjoying their roost last evening before I turn off the light.
My favorite picture after the rain.
At this point there isn't anything I would change. I suppose I wish it didn't take as long as it did, or cost as much as it did. Wish I didn't have so many nightmares about the construction process. Hahaha I'm glad we got our chickens before we built the coop because they were 6.5 weeks old when they moved into it and they pushed us to keep on task and complete the job because I wanted them out of our guest bath. We still plan on adding gutter and a rain barrel but right now we are just enjoying our girls and their new house.
***UPDATE ONE YEAR LATER***
I wanted to let everyone know that our coop is holding up marvelously. We still have our 6 original hens and I think it is the perfect size for them. It could probably hold two more, but six seems to be perfect. The outside has held up great through the rain, snow, wind... and we have not had any predators get in, so I would say it has done it's job.
The only negatives I have found is that the areas that get washed regularly, roost and ladder, are losing their original paint color. I was noticing the other day that those two items should either be replaced or freshened up with a new coat of paint. Also areas that are pooped on regularly, white is not a good choice of color. Going with a darker color might be best for poopy areas.
I will say that I am happy with the location of our coop. The enclosed run faces south and the hen house north and it is sandwiched in between two trees to the east and west. I like it because they have a bit more shade in the summer and more sun in the winter. They are also sheltered from the heat of the setting sun in the summer but in the winter the leaves are off the west tree and it warms them up. Living in the high desert I didn't want them to cook in the summer or freeze in the winter and this has worked well. The skylight has also help with both seasons.
The other thing I wouldn't change is the sand that is used in their run. It is so easy to clean. We just rake it and strain it through a restaurant deep fryer basket and then rake it back into place. Super easy and we do it about once or twice a week, depending. The inside of the coop gets cleaned once a month and we use a combination of wood shavings and straw, items easily composted.
Here are pics one year later.
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