Missouri Napoleon (Revolution)
Here's a design for about 10 birds with easy access to the laying boxes for me and to the run as well as outside for the chickens. Tried to take the best of others' designs - originality is dead/why reinvent the wheel? - and suit them to my needs, wants and budget.
The entire process of building the coop, from design to completed chicken confine, took a few weeks from beginning to end, in between my full time job and a little relaxation, and was an enjoyable experience. The coop is convertible, with a south facing window/vent as well as the front door vents in the pictures besides others along the top of the front and north sides.
Design includes slide out drawer for easy removal of manure for the garden as well as a nice wide gate to accommodate this. The run is fully enclosed with the fence and wire buried for security from predators and about 7 feet high to accommodate my 6'3'' frame without having to stoop. Building the run around and off of two sides of the coop - utilizing the coop's back and side walls as exteriors - minimized expense and digging. The coop is roughly 20 square feet inside, with that much again on the ground yet protected, and the run is about 130 square feet, covered with hex wire as a ceiling. Building it was enjoyable, and took several full days and other hours here and there from start to finish, although I was working by myself and around my full time day job.
The design was done first over the winter on my computer using Paint. This helps me to visualize the project as well as accurately predict the materials required for the job and any construction issues that may arise. Started with the four corner posts made of 2x4s screwed together, then attached them with 2x4s and chip board, leaving a window on the south side above the laying boxes and openings for the front doors and drawer. Was careful to allow for the sloped roof and incorporated it into the design. Once it was enclosed, I measured and made the slide out drawer and the doors, which have removable panels for better summertime circulation. I then cut a door into the bottom of the drawer to allow the chickens to ascend the ladder and enter the coop from below and attached it to the drawer's left side. Attached some leftover steel siding for the roof and did the same for the laying box lid, which conveniently opens up. The next step was to prime and paint it with oil based paint. I added a second and third coat and touched it up, as needed. Built to last, baby! Covered all the openings with hex wire and for added security, I trenched around the coop and buried hex wire over six inches deep and two feet out around it, attaching it firmly to the bottom of the coop.
For the door on the north side, which opens to the outside and was the most vulnerable point, I reinforced it by adding hardware cloth wire over the hex. The run was next, and I made 4x4 posts out of treated 2x4s and dug the holes for them around the perimeter. Once they'd set up well in the concrete I'd added to the holes, I connected them at the top with more treated 2x4s. These add support and also will be supports/ nailers for the ceiling.
Next trenched around the perimeter - 12' x 13', minus the coop back and side, which were already secured - with my tiller and a lot of shoveling. I then attached two strands of 4' welded wire fence, one atop the other, and added chicken wire around the bottom. This is to better protect the chickens in the run and is also buried about 2 feet out from the bottom of the fence to prevent digging under the fence, which itself is buried 6 inches deep.
Then came the ceiling, perhaps my least favorite part, working above my head and on a ladder. Simply stretched 4' chicken wire across the top in three swaths and attached them together in the middle with wire and with staples to the perimeter boards at the top. Finally, I framed the opening and made the gate, which measures 6' x 7', out of treated 2x4s, attached wire to it and hung it. Filled in the few gaps in the roof and fence with what else? - more hex wire! - to further predator-proof it; then called it a job well done. A palace fit for the emperor of the poultry!
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