We bought 2 chicks a local garden store on 4/12/14. By the time we got home we decided to add 2 more to the flock. My wife came home with 3. A week later we decided it didn't make sense for a family of 6 to have 5 hens, so we added 1 more. So with a flock of 6 growing chicks I set out to make a coop. This was the first structure I've ever built. No plans, just a rough sketch on a piece of notebook paper (below).
I started the coop in April 2015 and finished the primary construction in June 2015. Electricity was added at the end of the summer, the run roof in March 2016 and run extension in June 2016.
Our coop is 6'x4' with an additional 96 sq ft of outdoor run and attached nesting boxes. It's sided with cedar shingles. The coop roof is asphalt shingles. The run roof was added in the fall and is made of 1/2" PVC frame wrapped with a heavy duty tarp. This was a fairly inexpensive solution to putting a roof over a relatively large run. It cost less than $20.00 to cover the 72 sq ft run.
The coop was built on uneven ground. It's anchored to a raised platform, resting on concrete deck footings. The footings are buried about 10" below grade and sit on about 3 inches of pea gravel. Using some wooden stakes, a level and twine I roped off the where I wanted the platform, cut my 4"x4" legs to height and added 2"x4" bracing. You can see the original platform is smaller than the main structure. The rear part was added as an afterthought. Through a lot of reading I discovered a 4'x4' coop wasn't sufficient for the number of hens I'd be housing, so the extra 2'x4' section was added. That section is supported by the main structure with 2"x4" angle braces.
The nesting box is a pretty basic design. It's 36" wide, 13" deep, 14" at the opening, sloping down to just under 11". There are 2 dividers making 3 individual nesting stalls. A standard window lock was added to the nesting box access door to keep it secure.
Roofing felt covered the coop exterior and cedar shingles were tacked over top using a nail gun, firing 3/4" galvanized staples. We used a redwood stain/weather seal for protection from the elements. The underside is wrapped with metal fencing which is buried with gravel, about 10" deep. Our chickens love hanging out under the coop. They use the cross supports as roosts and the dry ground makes a good dust bath.
The supports for the run are 4x4s, each buried 18" and anchored with concrete. The support beams stick out about 7' above ground. Our run access is a screen door with the flimsy screen removed and replaced with heavy wire fencing. The fencing is buried 10" below grade around the run and held in place by gravel. I buried some tree branches for outdoor roosting space. There is still one plant in there they haven't managed to kill yet. The photo, below and to the left is the first day the run was open to the flock.
The inside is pretty basic. There are six windows protected with hardware cloth and two more small windows in the cupola. The lowest 4 windows all have hinged storm windows to keep the breeze out in the winter. We we leave them wide open in the Spring, Summer and Fall. I was worried I might have put the nesting box up too high, so I added a step a couple inches lower to help the hens in and out. They all use the boxes without any problem.
I scrapped the original roosts and added a 3' wide, 3 tier ladder roost that's hinged on the top (pictures below). This allows it to lift out of the way for easy cleaning.
We have sand floor, resting on 1/4" tile backer on a 1/2" OSB sub floor. The tile backer makes an excellent, easy to clean surface. It's moisture resistant and cheap, just under $10.00 for a 3' x 5' section. I had to use a drywall blade for my circular saw to cut it, but they can be had for less than $5.00.
In fall of 2015 I devised a PVC roof frame covered by a vinyl tarp for the run. Could not stand up to the winter winds and came down just before Christmas. We got some unseasonably warm weather in February 2016 which allowed me to build new roof, this time I framed it with 2x4s and attached a heavy duty tarp with screws and large fender washers. The edges of the tarp are held in place with metal flashing, which prevents the wind from getting underneath. So far it's come out unscathed through two very intense storms.
In March 2016, the mild winter allowed me to put in a railing around the walkway. This is something I wish I'd have done before the first winter. Those steps can get pretty slick in the winter. I fell more than once, but luckily wasn't hurt. The railing also serves to keep the hens out of the lower part of the garden. I've attached bird netting to the railing and spindles and although its only about 3 feet high, the birds don't roost of fly over.
Also in March 2016 I added 4 new chicks to the flock. I planned an extension to the run that I would keep the younger pullets separated from the hens, but still visible; however, when I finally introduced the two flocks, things went so well I didn't think the separation was necessary. I had the plan in my head so I went ahead with the run extension anyway. My wife came across an idea for a cinder block bench so this was added in the open area next to the addition.
I tried to make the Coop fit in with the natural surroundings. It's bordered in the rear by a limestone wall and surrounded by some huge trees. I think this makes it look smaller and less obtrusive. There is an old cattle fence above the rock wall, in the wooded area behind the coop. I've made a 5' barrier on the left side with bird netting and the netting on the railing keeps them out of the garden. We've got them fenced in with out it appearing they are fenced in.
When we are home, we prop open the run door and they have free reign. The chickens themselves have become a landscape feature.
More pics of the flock can be viewed at https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/gallus-domesticus-obsession. Hope you enjoyed the read.
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