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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
Heading off to bed at sunset - the New Hampshire Red is always the last one to go in!
Once inside, a little jockeying for the best spot on the roosts - seems they all like to compete for a place by the window!
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
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!