Cnanovics Coop

By cnanovic, Aug 19, 2012 | Updated: Oct 29, 2012 | | |
  1. cnanovic
    This coop was inspired by Baldessariclan's wonderful Wichita Cabin Coop - his must be the most copied coop ever! But it's a very functional design, and certainly met the needs we had for a coop. His pictures settled the "Make-Or-Buy" decision for me! I must confess, this was my first attempt at framing a building and/or building anything this large, so it took me a while to build - I worked every weekend from sunup to sundown for two straight months. And the work - for someone like me who has a desk job all week and just might be a tad out of shape - was exhausting! But I think the results are worth the time and resources invested - and the chickens certainly haven't complained!


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    We have 9 hens and I needed to make this coop larger than the original 5X10 footprint. I thought 6X12 sounded like a good number, and it seems to have worked out just fine. I studied the photos on Baldessariclan's site, then drew up a set of plans for the larger size, taking into account the roof pitch (used a 3-12 pitch) and optimal proportions of coop to run, door, etc. The front of the coop is 7 1/2' high, the back is 6', the coop section is 4' wide, the door is about 3.25' wide and the run section takes up the remaining width.

    Our ground was difficult to work - soil is clay and shale, and tree roots very near the surface too, so setting paver stones on edge didn't work here. Instead, we placed flat paver stones around and built them up with concrete, dirt, etc, then leveled them and filled in the height with crushed stone. Stapled hardware cloth to the bottom of the base (took B's advice and used pressure treated lumber for the base frame) and stitched it together with wire, then set it on top of the pavers and crushed stone. Added sand on top of the hardware cloth so chickens can scratch. Hardware cloth keeps the crushed stone from mixing with the sand and supports good drainage, and should be pretty much predator-proof!



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    Added a third nest box so there'd be enough for all nine hens, although my friend Janice tells me all of her chickens seem to use the same one or two boxes, regardless. We'll soon find out - these girls were hatched on May 21st 2012 so it's still too early for eggs! My husband ran electrical wiring underground and we put a junction box outside the coop - hopefully this will be a good solution. Trenching everything 12" underground was a huge job - had to rent a 4" trencher. But dogs and other critters won't be able to dig up the wiring!

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    Bob added a timer and an insulated "outdoor" outlet box so the lights could come on at the same time each morning in winter, and we can hook up a heater for the water. Probably should have located these higher up on the wall, but so far the chickens haven't bothered with them and the outlet box is double sealed, so the worst that could happen is they'll get pooped on. We'll see how it works out in the winter when they're spending more time in the coop. There's a flood light in the run section too, to deter predators and in case we need to go to the coop at night for something.

    Window is a simple frame-type made from leftover 2x4's cut into 1.5"X1.5" strips and glued/screwed together. A 3/8" wide X 1/2" deep rabbet makes a bed for the glass panes, cut to fit at Lowe's and then glazed in. Bedding and glazing the glass the old fashioned way ensures a watertight seal and no rattling of the panes, so as not to annoy the chickens during windy weather! A wooden stick is attached with a small hinge behind the lock on the bottom - when closing the window, just raise the stick and it stays hidden behind the frame.

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    The ramp seemed a bit steep so I made it as long as possible, and took Baldessariclan's advice and put the "rungs" close together so the hens won't slip and slide. I spaced them 6" apart and the chickens have become quite adept at walking up and down, although they usually just fly up, somewhere around the middle of the ramp. I'll probably shorten the ramp a bit, though.

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    Sifter box for cleaning out the sand in the coop run. It's a simple box made from a leftover 2x4 with mesh stapled to the bottom, and two handles glued and screwed to the sides to make holding and shaking the whole thing easier. Dividers help support the wire mesh and also make it easier to sift the sand, which is quite heavy. Used aluminum screen purchased at a hardware store - #16 X #18 mesh size. Since the hens grind the poop into the sand in the run and it ends up as tiny pieces, a somewhat fine mesh lets you actually get a good amount of the poop out. The box measures 24" X 19" X 3.5".

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    Added a roost in the run section so chickens could get away from being hen pecked. Noticed a few tail feathers missing, so we figured having a roost would give them a place to go if one of the flock was feeling aggressive. It's just a simple support make out of 1.5" x 1.5" pine taken from leftover 2x4's and screwed into the framing studs of the run.

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    Our nine chicken ladies on the first day in their new home - they were about 2 1/2 months old. We have a New Hampshire Red, a Barred Plymouth Rock, an Australorp, a Barnevelder, a Golden Laced Wyandotte, two Wellsummers and two Easter Eggers.

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    Heading off to bed at sunset - the New Hampshire Red is always the last one to go in!

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    Once inside, a little jockeying for the best spot on the roosts - seems they all like to compete for a place by the window!

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    YAY!!!! Our very first egg arrived on October 23rd 2012. Hens are exactly 5 months (22 weeks) and two days old. One of the Easter Eggers laid a small (1 1/4 ounce), light green egg in the nest box. I went out to check when I returned home from work and noticed that the wood shavings in all three nest boxes had been "hollowed out" like someone had gone in and tried to lay. At first I didn't see the egg - it was buried under some shavings in a corner of the box - but noticed it when I was rearranging the shavings. Just one egg today, but I hope the others will follow soon :)


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    The results of our first full week of laying - 14 eggs! We know the two Easter Eggers and the New Hampshire Red have been laying, and possibly one other but I haven't seen anyone else in the nest boxes so not sure who it is. All but two of the eggs were laid directly in the nest boxes. We found one brown egg in the shavings inside the coop, and one very small (.75 ounce) dark brown egg was found in the sand in the run section (maybe one of the Welsummers?). Sizes for the other eggs range from 1 1/4 oz. to 1 5/8 oz. Of the three nest boxes they seem to prefer the two end ones - nobody has laid in the middle one yet. Lately we seem to be getting about an egg a day from each of the Easter Eggers - very prolific layers - and while not sky blue or turquoise as we had hoped, they are very pretty shades of light green. Hens are now 23 weeks old - can't wait to see who will start laying this week!

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  1. plm6846
    I built this one too.. Took me three months! I have built three chicken enclosures and each time the coop got better and now it is built to last forever!! I didn't put a window in the door as yet(coop door) but with my prior endeavors I wanted maximum floor space so feeder is 6 inch tube,approximately 3 ft tall screwed to one side in run part, and put lineup of water nipples along underside of coop with 5 gal water bucket outside of coop. We can service the water very easily, and refill feeder from just inside door without entering completely...I am a RN so construction is new to me...is really fun tho! Love all the ideas I have received from this forum! [​IMG][​IMG]
  2. cnanovic
    It's been a little over a month now since the hens first started laying. All 9 are now in lay, and we have 6 different colors/shades - a very pretty mix! The flock average is about 5 eggs/week per hen, but everyone except the Welsummers and Barnevelder seem to lay 6 or more per week. The 3 dark egg layers average more like 3-4 per week. But all in all the flock has been pretty productive.
  3. cnanovic
    Our first egg arrived today!!! One of the Easter Eggers laid a 1.25 ounce, light green, perfectly formed pullet egg. We're so excited! Hope there's more from the other hens tomorrow.
  4. TROPIC HENS
    That's one thing I don't have to worry about. The coldest it ever gets here is in the 40s and that might be a day here and there at the peak of winter. For the most part, weather stays within the 80s. The bigger concern down here is ventilation. The summers are brutal and humid!
  5. cnanovic
    Thanks so much! I finished the side window and installed it today - weather is getting cold now and we need to be able to close the windows to prevent drafts. I'll make shutters for the back vent holes and install the roost bar in the run this weekend. Replacing the sifter box mesh with a smaller gauge (#16) - the construction sand in the run is very fine and they end up pulverizing the poop when they walk on it and mix it into the sand. The tiny pieces go right through the larger screen. Found aluminum #16x18 screen at a hardware store the other day, and for $2.78 got a nice piece to cover the bottom of the box. All that's left is to make the winterization panels to fit over the hardware cloth sections in the run. I'll post updated pictures soon.
  6. TROPIC HENS
    Love the coop! You did an outstanding job. I'm also in the process of building mine and it's the same style as yours.
  7. cnanovic
    The roosts in the coop are spaced 2' apart. This seems to be a good distance, and allows the hens to access them pretty easily. I also plan to put a few roosts in the run section, because they have started to peck at each other and I'm noticing tail feathers in the run and a few bare spots/sparse tails on several of the birds. Providing roosts in the run lets them get away from each other, and also hanging treat balls with greens/vegetables, etc and/or placing pans of treats in the sand can help with pecking issues (so I'm told!) Will rig something up this weekend and see if it improves the situation.
  8. ljnac3160
    Also wondering...how far apart did you place the roosting poles?
  9. ljnac3160
    Thanks again for sharing your experience! Your suggestions are great and much appreciated! :)
  10. cnanovic
    The sand was quite inexpensive - I think it was only about $25. for a scoop. The delivery was about the same price, but we had them bring the stone and the sand in the same truck, so only one delivery charge. And the stuff is very heavy, so the closer you can get them to the coop site to dump, the better. We have a lawn tractor with garden cart, which we used to haul it from our driveway to the backyard coop area (delivery truck couldn't fit through our fence gate), Doing it by wheelbarrow will be an exhausting effort (the scoop of sand weighs about a ton if I remember correctly.) Also, we put a tarp down for them to dump the sand onto - makes cleanup of your driveway easier if it's paved.
  11. ljnac3160
    Yes - I agree...smelly and yucky! I'd prefer the sand so I'll look into it. Do you remember the approximate cost of a load of sand? I'm sure I could have it delivered to my driveway and then transport it with a wheelbarrow from there. Thanks so much for your input!
  12. cnanovic
    I used one scoop of sand on top of one scoop of crushed stone (delivered from our local landscape/building materials supply yard) for the base. Chickens have only been in for two weeks and I haven't cleaned the run yet (plan to do it next weekend after I make a sifter box.) We've had a few really good rainstorms, but the coop is elevated enough so no flooding or washout. The chickens don't seem to be kicking the sand around, and the poop gets covered so they're not constantly walking in it. Another benefit of sand is that you can hose it down after sifting out the poop, feathers, etc. I have a layer of hardware cloth stapled to the bottom of the base frame, and that separates the crushed stone from the sand as well as makes it totally predator-proof. I'm assuming the sand will eventually settle down some and we may need to add a bit more to it, but I don't think it will be much. You should be fine with just a "scoop" of sand on top of the pea gravel for the 6x12 base. It actually is a small truckload - or half a small truckload - but depending on where you live you should be able to have it delivered right to your house/coop site. I don't think shavings or mulch would allow for proper drainage and would probably get smelly pretty quickly.
  13. ljnac3160
    Beautiful job! I'm having this built too, with the footprint being the same as yours - 6X12. I have 11 hens though, so we thought it might be better to offer them a little more room in the actual coop. The dimensions will be 6X6, and the run area the remaining 6X6 with the extra room underneath the coop. What did you use for the base underneath the sand on the floor of the run? How is the sand working for you? Do you find that a lot of it washes away with rain or that the hens kick it out of the run area? How much did you need? Is clean up easy? I'd like to use sand too, but right now I have pea gravel down and I'd probably need a truckload to cover it. I'm afraid a lot of it will run through the pea gravel which will act like a sieve. My other options would be shavings or mulch, but it would be difficult to keep clean and costly to replace. Thanks for sharing!! :)

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