Lake Norman "Coop De Ville"
This post chronicles my joirney into urban chicken mania. I stumbled upon an evening news clip about urban chicken coops in our area which began our research and ultimate commitment to having chickens. Less than two months later I began construction of the coop Below are some of the details regarding the coop construction which began July 22, 2012 and I finished (for the most part) on September 14, 2012; with lessons learned along the way. Thanks for visiting this page and I appreciate the opportunity to share our experience with you.
Coop design criteria:
- Room for 5 hens
- aesthetically pleasing (We live on the shore of a large lake just north of Charlotte, NC so don't want to offend our neighbors)
- Somewhat portable in case we move
- Automatic door so I don't have to get up each morning at dawn to let chickens out (although I end up there every morning anyway)
Design and Feature Influences:
- Wichita Cabin Coop
- 8 X 16 Coop and Storage Room
- The Palace
The coop is five feet wide by ten feet long. I designed the coop using Google SketchUp. It was designed and built in two sections that are attached together by five 1/2 inch bolts, washers and nuts.
* Things I would do differently now listed at bottom of this page
It was built from mostly 2 X 4's. I also used 2 X 6's, 1/2 inch plywood, one 2 X 12, 8 inch tongue & groove siding, 1 X 3's and 1 X 4's. None of the wood was treated so I applied 2 coats of Behr white deck stain. I used 1/2" hardware cloth to keep out predators and the chickens in. It has a corrugated metal roof.
I began on July 22, 2012 by locating a suitable location in the yard to build the coop. I began by installing and leveling 22 12" X 15" pavers. I only had to cut 2 of them with a dry masonry blade on a miter saw. I did no more work until August 21, 2012 when as I began to install the base boards realized that we had done a poor job of leveling the pavers so we purchased a bucket of polymeric sand and leveled each paver once again.
None of the wood used was pressure treated so I stained the boards that would touch the ground before beginning construction. I found a good deal on a used Shopsmith Mark V 510 woodworking machine which was bought and used to build the coop.
I covered the ground and foundation with weed barrier cloth and started putting the boards together.
The housing section of the coop is 4' X 5'. It is 7' tall in front and 6' tall at the rear.
August 23, 2012
Framed the roof for the pen section. It is 7' X 8'. This section of the coop is 5' X 6' so their is an 18" overhang front and rear and a 1' overhang on the left side. It is 6.5' tall in front and 5.5' tall in the rear. I had to finish this side of the roof because with a 1' overhang from the adjacent housing section roof I wouldn't have room to nail the felt and metal roof on if it were built concurrently.
I took some time to figure out how to notch 2 X 4's at an angle which was a pain.
I originally used wooden blocks to attach the front and rear spreaders but later switched to metal L brackets in order to be able to install the wire mesh and trim strips properly.
August 24, 2012
August 25, 2012
Installed the 1/2 inch plywood for the pen roof and stained. I did most of the staining on the entire coop.
Note: The clear plastic was used as a drop cloth to keep the white stain off of the black weed barrier and was removed and thrown away before I introduced the sand.
August 26, 2012
On goes the roof felt paper.
No chickens yet but the moths like it
August 27, 2012
The metal roof goes on this section. I start to frame the housing section roof.
August 28, 2012
I begin framing for the nest box which will be 16 " high X 14" deep X 28.25" wide for 2 nests.
All wooden blocks holding the spreaders are replaced with metal corner brackets.
August 29, 2012
Installed the 2" X 12" header board drilled for three 1/2" X 4" bolts to attach the pen and housing sections together. Also finished framing for the window over the nest box.
August 30, 2012
Started installing the 1/2" hardware cloth.
August 31, 2012
The housing roof plywood goes on and the floor is framed.
September 6,. 2012
I picked up the chickens from the NC state poultry sale. Five Hy-Line Browns with all of their shots. Housing section not ready so I am in overdrive.
September 8, 2012
Housing section is almost finished except for nest box. Notice the battery box for the Pullet-Shut Automatic door. The Battery is charged by a solar panel mounted on top of the coop. Next to it you see the photoelectric eye which opens the door at sunrise and closes it at sunset. The door itself is all metal and very precision built. It works like a dream. I put 15 bags of sand at 50lbs each into the pen.
September 9, 2012
Working on the nest box
September 17, 2012
Installed 2 gallon watering system with stainless steel nipples.
The girls took right to it!
Installed new trigger based feeder. The girls hit the trigger and food is dispensed. To my surprise it only took a few minutes for them to figure the system out. Still needs to be stained.
September 20, 2012
Changed the container for the feeding system. The first container's lid was too difficult to get on and off and broke the container rim. Also stained it.
Added a second roost a little lower and 14" apart from the other one. Two of our girls were having a difficult time getting onto the first one which is 30" off of the floor.
Fake wooden eggs to help the girls learn where to lay.
October 3, 2012
Our First Egg! The only problem is that Mama didn't lay it in the nest box but rather on the floor of the housing area. I never thought I'd be so excited about an egg.
My first egg was the best I have ever tasted!
October 5, 2012
Egg Number Two! Still not laying in the nest box though. UMMMM...
October 6, 2012
I heard one of the girls fussing inside the coop so I went and placed her in a nest box. She came out twice and went back in, sat and left us an egg. The other girls all came into the coop to watch. Hopefully they learned where this is supposed to take place.
October 8, 2012
I am now getting two eggs a day! They are using both next boxes!
October 29. 2012
Getting cooler and windy so I built two windows with 1" X 3" poplar and Lexan which I had cut at Lowes.
I drilled and secured the Lexan to the frame using #6 X .5" screws and rubber washers
Next will be disassembly; staining the frames white and reassembly
Safe from the wind!
Windows removed, taken apart, stained white, put back together and reinstalled!
Added a hardware cloth tube to the top of the trigger feeder to keep the girls off of the bucket; it works great!
The girls are fed Countryside Organic Feed and they love it!
Came up with a good idea for a sand sifting design and as a result I constructed this. It is 24"X12" and has screen on the inside supported by hardware cloth on the outside to hold the weight of the sand and waste. Works like a dream, but it takes a fairly strong person to use this. Sand is heavy!
Here it is at work! The sand is clean and the waste goes into the compost pile.
WARNING: You have to wear some type of respiratory filter mask to prevent breathing in the fine silica particles from the sand which over time I have read can lead to silicosis.
March 10, 2013 Added this rooster carving and coated it with exterior urethane, and mounted it on the coop where I can enjoy it by the sitting area.
I’m starting to let the girls free range around our backyard on pretty days.
The chickens have been great for us! We get up early each morning to see what they're up to. I enjoy coffee by the coop each morning and find ourselves going out to see them a few times a day. I am fortunate to be self-employed and work from home much of the time. I am addicted to chickens! LOL
Things I would do differently:
1. Build a split door (two sections that each open independently) with the bottom sectionbeing around two feet tall so that when the top section is opened to feed and water the chickens can't get out. This issue started when we began to let them free range around the yard some days when we can supervise them.
2. Forget the barrier cloth. The chickens just dig it up at shred it and we have all of it up except between the wood and foundation block.
3. I will probably go with a treadle feeder instead of the trigger feeder soon. I just have to build one. They manage to get the feed all over the sand and we clean a lot of it out of the sand.
4. I have been contemplating removing the sand and using straw. The sand is very heavy to clean and I use straw in the new tractor coop that I designed and built; it is easier to work with but not as aesthetically pleasing.