Jnswrights Member Page

By jnswright, Jan 11, 2012 | |
  1. jnswright
    Welcome to my BYC page...
    I thought I would share how we got everything set up and built for our Eggs-cellent Egg-venture. I've tried to take photos all along the way and hope that this info will help others as they go about starting their own chicken adventure.
    Let me start by saying that I am a computer guy, not an expert when it comes to trying to build anything out of raw materials. I mean, if you gave me a bunch of computer parts, I could build you a computer... if you gave me a stack of wood and nails, I quickly get lost and have no idea of how to put things together and have anything of any quality at the end. So this was definitely a stretch for me.
    We started by reading... alot of reading about chickens, coops, construction, chicken runs, etc., etc., etc...
    I found a good deal on a used chicken coop on Craigslist and purchased it the next day. It is 4x6 (roughly). It was a challenge to get the coop... it is VERY heavy. In fact, when I asked the lady we bought it from how many people I would need to bring to load it onto a trailer she said that she thought it would take 4 men... boy am I glad we had 10 people show up to help... we needed every one of those 10 people to move the coop...
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    Once we got the coop to the house, we just dropped it off in the back yard. As you can see in the photo above, we raised it onto 1/2 cinder blocks. It only took 3 of us to get it onto the cinder blocks (there were only 3 of us available - me, one of my daughters, and my son). We used more brains than brawn to actually lift the coop onto the blocks (we used some 2x4 as levers and slowly positioned it onto the blocks). It was very satisfying to think our way through how to lift the beast with just the 3 of us...

    A couple of weeks later, I started getting a chicken run in place. It took me that long to figure out how much space, what size, and where to put the run supports...
    We decided that we wanted a 12x12 attached run for the chickens. Here is a photo of the run site with the 2 foot deep holes dug (into very hard clay mind you - in the over 100 degree temps).
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    My initial thought was to build a run that would have a flat surface to cover, so I purchased 5 8x4x4 posts (8 feet tall 4x4s so that the interior would be 6 feet tall and I could stand up inside). Once I put the 4x4s into the corners, and figured out I really wanted the run to be covered, and how I was going to cover the run we made a design change... We decided that the roof should be sloped and taller... so, back to home depot and I purchased 3 10 foot tall 4x4s.
    This brought up another design change... the ground was slightly sloped (about 6 inches from side to side). Sooo, we broke out the pick axe and shovels and leveled the 12x12 pad - by HAND... (still over 100 degrees in North Texas)... This took a couple of weekends (I called several people who I thought might sympathize with me and have mercy on me to bring over a bobcat to level the pad - no luck). Anyways, in the photo below, you can see where we leveled the pad (note the large piles of dirt/asphalt behind the run site). This also shows the run structure starting to take shape. We used 4x4 verticals and 2x6 header and kicker boards fastened with Simpson strong ties.
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    From this point, we starting building the actual walls. Essentially, we built floating walls using 2x4's. We build them on the ground and the lifted them into place and fastened them to the 4x4's with Simpson ties and to the 2x6 header and kicker boards using 2" deck screws. In the photo below, you can see the back and front walls fitted and in place. We built the side walls the same way but they were a little harder to do since the side walls are sloped and we needed to make angle cuts and each vertical board was a different length (or height as the case may be). But we manged to get them in place using the same method...
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    Here is one show all of the walls in place (and the first roof joist):
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    I thought it might be helpful to show a little detail on the connectors and how we put things together.
    Here is the kicker board with the floating wall connected to the kicker and the 4x4 post. The kicker is connected to the 4x4 corner post using flat strong ties. The wall is connected to the 4x4 using a corner bracket and connected to the 2x6 kicker using 2" deck screws.
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    Here is a photo showing the outside of the wall. The floating walls were put together using pressure treated 2x4's. In the photo below, you can see the wall connected to the 2X6 header (using deck screws).
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    Here is the inside of the front wall. In the photo below, you can see the front wall and the roof joist. The joists are pressure treated 2x6's. We had to notch them since the roof line is sloped. They are in place directly over the 2x4 vertical of the walls and hung using joist hangers.
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    Once we had the main structure built, we decided to stain the pressure treated wood to give it a nice color tone (cedar). I really like the color tone...
    It was also time to figure out what I wanted to do for the roof. My initial thought was to use the plastic corrugated panels. I quickly realized that if I wanted to use the plastic panels, I was going to have to order them because home depot doesn't carry them in the width that I needed. Our run is 12x12 and the roof joists were set 3' apart. The plastic panels came in 2' widths... so, back to the drawing board and to the computer to do some research. I found the Ondura panels at Lowe's and they were almost the perfect size for what I needed. Below, you can see a photo of the stained run structure and the Ondura roof panels in process of being installed.
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    As you can see from the photo above, I also added some cross pieces to the roof structure (they go in between the roof joists and are attached using 2 1/2" deck screws. In the photo below, you can see a little more detail of the inside of the roof.
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    Now we were cooking...
    The items remaining were - door, the chicken ramp (and connection to the run), hardware cloth, and the run flooring.
    For the door, I purchased an exterior screen door from Home Depot. I removed the screen from the door and stained it to match the stain of the rest of the run. I then replaced the screen with hardware cloth (attached using large staples). I also picked up some hinges for the door as well as a flip latch and 2 sliding latched (one for the top of the door and one for the bottom to make sure the door can be securely fastened and locked for protection). I also drilled a hole through the 4x4 and put a coated wire into the hole and attached it to the flip latch (I don't want to be locked into the run and not have a way out). I also added pieces of 2x4 so that the door, when shut, is fixed so that things can't go between the cracks of the door to get into the run. You can see the door details in the photo below.
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    Sand for the run...
    Luckily, there is a place that sells bulk sand about 3 miles from my house. I stopped in there and purchased a full pickup load of washed sand. They brought over a tractor to dump the sand into the bed of my pickup. When he dumped the bucket, it made me a bit nervous as it really made the back of the truck lower... then they grabbed another bucket load and dumped a second bucket into the back of my truck... yikes... boy was I glad I didn't have to drive very far. I want to say that it was easily a ton of sand (cost was $40 for the load). When I got the sand home, my son and I unloaded it directly into the run using shovels and a wheel barrow.
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    Pop door, Ramp, and the connection from coop to run...
    This was another thing that made me stop and think for a short bit. It's really hard to describe, so here is the solution I came up with...
    I made this a lid so that I could open it from outside the run. It is a piano hinge with a hasp and handle on the other side.
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    Time to button things up - Hardware cloth...
    I used hardware cloth, fastened to the structure using screws and washers, to button the run up. I included about a 1 foot apron around the entire run. A couple of the sections of the run aren't exactly the same size as the others. This caused me a slight problem in that the normal size hardware cloth from Home Depot was 36" (3 feet wide) and I had a couple of sections that were a bit wider (marginally wider, but enough to make it so that I needed to order some wider cloth online - thank you Amazon for fast delivery).

    When I can get back out there without getting rained on, I'll grab another shot that shows the whole setup as completed.

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