Deciding what and how to build our "perfect" coop has been quite a feat! Lots of research went into what would work for our little set up. The gentleman who built "Coop09", was especially inspirational as was the gentleman who built the "Taj Mahal". Lots of laughs there! My son and I dug into planning with insane enthusiasm. He has absolutely no interest in the chickens. This is all about the design, construction, and what kinds of high tech gismos he can sneak in. Automatic door parts are already on order! My husband? Eh...not so enthusiastic, but he is coming around to jumping in with construction experience, something the 2 of us really need.
I should preface some of this with the information that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Luckily, I am not significantly affected, however, ease of access and maintanence, and site location are just a few of the things I really focused on in order to make chicken keeping disease compatible. For example, the coop is raised about 30" off the ground (table height). This will make cleaning easier on me. Run plans include a 6 ft high enclosed run to eliminate excessive bending. Distance from the house was also taken into consideration, as we have some nasty winters around here! So...I'll get started...
The coop size will be 6.5 x 4 ft in length and width. Wall height is 4 ft, not including the pitch and roof. I am following our town's regulations of 4 sq. ft. per bird, and plan on eventually having the full 6 birds allowed, so I designed the finished dimensions with that thought in mind. Below is the site prep. I spent several days digging out the pit. I fondly (fondly??) called it my chain gang job. We will be running either chicken wire or hardware cloth (the debate is still on) underneath the entire site, then sitting the "footers" on top. Footers have been initially dug, supported with gravel, 4x4 post braces in place, and awaiting finally leveling and placement when we bring out the coop floor.
The coop floor was made from pressure treated 2x4's, then covered with regular 3/4" plywood. The rest of the coop will be made with regular wood. We chose the pressure treated for under the floor and the 4x4 support posts because of their constant weather exposure. Studs were screwed in place with 2.5 in coated screws, 16" on center. The most difficult part of this was the leveling! Lost a lot of time there! However, here it is with posts and flooring in place. Floor dimensions= 4 ft. by 6.5 ft.
I am running 1/2in hardware cloth under, then up the sides. The center seam will be "sewn" together. Linoleum was glued down on top.
Meanwhile, in the basement, we constructed the walls. This is the front wall of the coop. It has a recycled window from my home placed in it. The window will have hinges so that it can be opened in warmer weather.
This next photo is the back where I'll have an access door for all of the wonderful chores one needs to do!
Nesting box side....a vent will be at the top...
Run side with another, smaller window that will have a "screen door" so that I may insert any wayward chickens that need a lesson on returning to the coop at night! Also, there is another vent on the top.
T111 will be nailed to the outside, and the inner areas will be lined with R13 insulation. The inner walls will be closed up with 1/4" plywood. For those who like dimensions, the long walls are 73 1/2 " long, the short walls are 48". Height is 42".
Assembly on site:
This has been a LONG haul! My husband is a bit of a perfectionist and as such, the details have dragged it out a bit. But, is is coming out beautifully:
You can see the run area dug on the left of the building. We will be finishing that this weekend. However, the girls were able to be moved out last night.
Quite a view for a bunch of chickens!
This is the front window.
Looking through a small side window. Nesting boxes are currently blocked off until they are a little older. The stacked blocks held the waterer which was out in a cage with them at the time of this picture. Tray is filled with Sweet PDZ. Access door to the left.
The run is 7ft x 12ft fully surrounded in hardware cloth, both on the sides and up and over the rooftop. Seams are sewn closed. Each section was built on the ground, then sunk 10-12 inches into the ground. Landscaping gravel was poured into the hole, then filled with dirt. Landscaping and run components still need to be finished.
And the final product....completed on June 29th! Really happy with the results! So are the chickens!
Landscaping plants in the front need to grow in a bit, but otherwise done! Shortly after this, we had a thunderstorm come through and a microburst hit the trees behind in, felling a bunch to the left of this shot. Luckily, it survived the onslaught!
There's something to be said about a well built coop!
Thought I'd do an update several months after "living" with the coop. We have planned some improvements for this Spring. First, I plan on running insulation under the coop floor. Thus far, during our super cold snaps, we have been able to maintain an 8-10 degree difference between the outside air and the inside of the coop. The water heater inside helps with that. It is seated on 2 layers of pavers to prevent a fire hazard. Adding additional insulation underneath will secure a full 10 degree difference, especially helpful when morning temps. start out at -4 or less.
In the Fall, we secured a tarp over the roof of the run. I was on the fence as to roof it or not when building it. This gave me a chance to do a dry "run" so to speak! I have come to the conclusion that I do, indeed, want to add a permanent roof to the run. We built the roof structure to handle the additional weight of roofing materials should plans change, and I am glad we did.
The outside waterer, as expected, freezes daily. We will also be creating an area to accommodate an outside heater, electrical included. The chickens prefer the outside one for some reason. So, when in Rome and all!
Since the original posting, we added a "Hencam" to the inside. It is a D-Link wireless webcam, Cloud based, that I can access from my laptop inside. I am able to rotate the camera from the program to check the automatic pop door's open/closed status, nest boxes (helps to see who starts laying when!), and roosting bar to do a nightly head count without leaving the comfort of my kitchen during nasty weather. Best thing I ever did! I highly recommend one! My husband also built a small 2ft x 5ft x about 36in high shed (estimated measurements) which sits directly behind the access door. I am able to simply turn around in order to access any supplies I need when cleaning and restocking the coop. All food items are kept in a galvanized trash can within the shed. Very helpful!
Hope these notes help others! I am here to answer any questions, should someone have one. Love having chickens! They make great and very interesting additions to our home!