The Hen HutThis is the story of how we built our chicken coop. Many thanks to the contributers to Backyard Checkens who provided such great ideas to assist us in our design and construction, especially "The Feater Factory" by Littlefeat, "The Red Roost Inn" by nwmud, and the "Wichita Cabin Coop" by baldessariclan.
The completed coop looks like this:
I'm no architect but this is a decent sketch of the front wall. I made a lot of changes along the way so some of the dimensions may not be perfect. One of the biggest decisions was the 12 inch addition on the left hand side to allow for more room for storage and the nesting boxes. We were trying to make the coop as large as possible but still fit in our space and work around the existing trellis for the wisteria.
The 48" piece shown in the center of the coop was never installed. The two doors that are the main access meet in the middle and made it unnecessary.
This is the plan for the left side of the coop.
Here is a sketch of the back wall but it does not include the nesting box extension.
Here are the dimensions of the footprint for the foundation.
We started with a foundation of old bricks laid sideways topped by 2 x 8's that came from an old sandbox. Total depth is therefore about 11 inches. Hopefully deep enough for nothing to be able to tunnel underneath.
This is the back wall framed out. All of the lumber for the framing was donated or else purchased from a recycled lumber yard. I also took full advantage of the scrap bins at Home Depot. Kept costs way down.
Starting on the framing with the floor for the storage unit that will go below the coop.
The floor for the coop is 4' x 5' and is elevated 3/4" in the back so it sloped forward. Should make it easier to hose it out for big cleanings.
You can also see the holes drilled in the 2 x 4's below the roofline for additional ventilation.
The roof is a polycarbonate material called SunTuf. Found it at Home Depot. It comes in 2 foot by 12 foot panelsat $33 each. I was able to get by with just two panels, each one cut in half.
Closeup of the roofline. The styrofoam pads make for a nice fit and keep the interior well sealed from the outside.
The interior framing of the nesting boxes.
I gave a lot of thought to how to design the door for the nesting boxes. I didn't want it to leak and finally settled on putting a strip of roofing flashing under a strip of trim below the window. No water runs into the gap at the top as a result.
I covered the lid with some old roofing tiles we had.
The coop is now complete with everything but the windows and the hardware netting. The two doors in front both open and make for easy access to everything inside. I used 4 inch OC siding for the walls. I only need 2 full 4 x 8 sheets plus a large piece of scrap from the Home Depot scrap bin. The panels are $36 each, one of my biggest expenses.
The inside view of the nesting boxes and the hardward netting over the inside of the windows. The wooden slat in the front is removable.
I wanted the door to the run to be operable from outside the coop so you can see the cord that can raise and lower the door. The door slides nicely in the tracks. I added felt pads for furniture feet to the door to make the fit nice and snug. The door was really only used when the chicks were too young to go into the run. After about the first two months, the door has been open 24/7.
The Hen Hut is Complete! The rooster on top was the final piece. The entire cost was less than $600.
We were lucky to have some flagstone leftover from a walkway that I could put around the exterior of the coop.
On the wall between the coop and the run I added this drop down door for addtional ventilation. It has been open almost continuously since the third month.
Closeup of the windows. The chains work great. When we go away for multiple days, we leave the front windows open but the side one closed.
We added a roost inside with a metal sheet of old siding below to catch the majority of the poop. The thinking was to be able to easily remove the sheet and dump it in the compost bin. After five months I have only need to do that twice. I just do occasional scoops with a large dust pan and add more shavings. So far we haven't noticed any real smell.
We also painted the bottom white to protect the wood and make it easier to clean.
I put a removable 1" x 6" board across the front door opening to keep in the pine shaving bedding.
These are some closeups of the hardware used to secure the two main front doors. The left-hand door latches to the framing at the top and bottom and the right-hand door is latched to the left-hand door.
Added a roost in the run as well.
The storage space under the coop has room for a full bag of pine shavings and buckets for feed.
The Watering System
The water system is extremly low maintenance. I put a float valve in a 3 gal. bucket that is fed by a hose from across the yard. Then rubber and PVC pipe feed down to two chicken nipple dispensers. Works great!
The nipples came from a website called CC Only: http://www.cconly.com/chicken_supplies/waterers
The float valve came from Grainger and can be found at: http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/ww...uery=4dmd3&op=search&Ntt=4dmd3&N=0&sst=subset
You can see the cinder block below the nipples that was needed while the chicks were too short to reach the permanent height of 18" to 20" that they will work best when they are fully grown.
I added a nipple to the inside but only used it while the chickens were too small to go outside. The stairs were a garage sale purchase of a spice rack so they had access while they grew. I could also adjust the height of the pipe. Once they were big enough I capped it off. The main reason to eliminated it was that it did drip some when the chickens drank and the floor was continually damp. I decided it was not worth the hassle of dealing with a wet floor and possible mold, so now they go outside for their water.
Here are the chicks in their brooding box. We kept them in the garage for the first 7 weeks. We got 2 Ameraucaunas, 2 Black Sex Links and 2 Golden Sex Links.
Finally the chicks move in. The little ladder you see was to give them better access to the roost while they were so little. I removed it before too long, once they could make the jump to the roost unassisted.
We also used a 100 Watt bulb for a heat lamp at night for the first month or so. We haven't needed it since. Northern California doesn't get too cold.
The feeder is a 5 gal. bucket with a 20" flower pot saucer bolted to the bottom and several big holes drilled in the bucket to allow the feed to flow down.
You can also see how I put netting over the nesting boxes to not allow them in there until they start laying.
The feeding system is just a 5 gallon bucket hanging from a chain. The plastic cover is to prevent the chickens from jumping on top of it. I cut a slot in the side and covered it with plastic from a large water bottle so we can see how much feed is inside.
We liked to let the chickens out to rummage behind the backyard but a fox attack made us rethink that plan. The bird that got attacked lost a bunch of feathers but we were able to chase the fox away and it dropped our chicken who fully recovered. Thank goodness!
Our first egg! Almost 5 months to the day since we brought them home. Immediately took off the netting and they have now figured out that the nesting boxes are for laying. We put in a few golf balls to reinforce the concept.
We are looking forward to many more yummy eggs. So far the coop has been working beautifully. Thanks again to all the great people who publish their good ideas and designs at Backyard Chickens.