Introducing Hen Mahal
About a year ago we moved into a home that had an existing chicken coop, which was basically some plywood and wire placed over an old swing set. It worked, but was quite the eye sore.
Inspired by many of the awesome coops on BYC, I set out to build a nice new home for the girls. I really did not have much in the way of plans. I knew i had to build the new coop alongside and outside of the existing coop, as we had no place to keep the girls during any demo phase.
Phase 1 - the foundation
I wanted a raised foundation so i could have living space up top and a combination of living space and storage below
First i set the footers. I had planned on using a 4x8 sheet of plywood as my floor. I needed to set the footers far enough outside of the existing nesting boxes to be able to build without knocking down the back wall.
4x4's for the legs, and 4x6 beams for the main supports
Framing the nesting boxes and windows. We had some old windows that were salvaged from a tear down in our neighborhood that we used for the main window. Our house has a stained glass window, so we thought the girls should have one as well. We found the perfect on an an "antique" shop in town for $30
I framed the new coop and roof around the old coop.
I had one day to demo the old coop and frame and wire the new run. It was a lot of work to pull off solo, but i was able to get it done before the neighborhood coyotes came by for a late afternoon snack
The run was a combination of poured footings and pier and post type things...
Rough finish of the main coop. My son's preschool was busy hatching eggs, as were we, so i had to get the coop done by the time they hatched. I divided the coop in two, with the left side for the chicks and the right side for our two laying hens. The doors would close, completely sealing off the chicks from the rest of the world.
Our nesting boxes are low inside the coop, but the girls took right to them.
A view of the nesting boxes from the outside. A trap door was installed for easy outside access.
We had a bunch of cedar shake laying around that must have been left over from siding the main house. I only needed to buy one more bundle to do the whole thing. Putting these around the doors and windows took for some careful cutting with a table saw.
As the chicks grew, they needed some more room. The bottom right is storage. Enough room for three 5 gallon buckets to hold food, shaving and a few flakes of straw. It would soon become a home to some baby possums. It took a while for me to figure out how they were getting in... Yikes
*** I have since updated the outward swinging doors with sliding doors, using some large drawer slides. I got tired of hitting my head when pulling things out of storage ****
A trap door was placed in the floor, with a ramp leading to the lower section
My first pass at the door just had a 1/2 piece of wood marking the end, well all of the shaving found their way down the hole. I later used a 6 inch wide piece of 1/4 plywood to make a guard that would keep the shavings in place.
I crafted three screens that could be put in place to keep the chicks in the lower section, but easy enough to move out of the way for cleaning and feeding. They are the perfect size to keep in the storage for future use.
I re-purposed the swing set ladder as an outdoor roost. It is my son's favorite spot to sit and cuddle with his buddies.
On of our hens loved to roost on the trapeze on the old swing set, so we incorporated it as part of the design.
I found a ceramic rooster head at a yard sale, who now overlooks the flock. The one design flaw is the doors. I will be updating them this weekend to slide barn door style, as opposed to opening outward. I have hit my head far too many times while trying to get into the storage or fill the water.
We have done a bit of experimenting with water and food solutions. I think I now have one of every type of feeder or water system on the market.
What i have settled on for water is a food grade 5 gallon bucket, PVC pipe on the end and poultry nipples. The chicks took right to this system at about five weeks.
I only have to fill it once a week for our current flock of nine hens. We had to re-home nine roos as part of our egg hatching experiment.
While I don't have a picture of it now. I am very happy with the trigger happy chicken setup as a feeder for pellets. I have a 3 gallon bucket, suspended from the ceiling. Super easy to fill and low waste.
I am not sure of the exact square footage. Inside living space is 32 square feet. Four different roosts, made of 2x4's and three nesting boxes. Large window that opens for ventilation. The floor is lined with linoleum for easy cleaning. So far so good.
The main part of the run is maybe 80 square feet, half of that covered by the roof, with another 16 square feet of living space under the coop.
They seem to love it.