Our Recycled Shed Coop
It Starts With an Idea and a Run-Down Shed:
When we first started to discuss our chicken adventure this winter, I guess we just assumed that my handy hubby would build a coop. But as spring grew near, the cost and chore of our endeavor began to weigh on my mind. When I was out with the dog one day, the raggedy old shed in the woods that had come with our property (purchased a year and a half before) suddenly looked like something that was calling out for a new life. It had yet to find a use other than rock throwing target practice for our son and our neighbor so it was decided that we would give it a go. We dragged the old beast out into the driveway and there it began its' transformation.
It was not until I began discussing the coop with some neighbors of ours who are in their second season and new generation of chicken keeping that I realized how lucky were were to have the old shed to build upon. Apparently rundown sheds are in demand and hard to come by.
The shed is approximately 4 x 8 so we are just about right for our 8 New Hampshire's. We will add extra run space to give them as much outside room as possible and they will be allowed to free range when we are out and about in the yard.
Plans & Renderings:
Below you will find the plans and drawings that DH did for the coop. I had to convert these from Adobe PDF format to JPG in order to upload them.
And Now The Work Begins:
We removed the door and broken window pane and I gave it a good scrubbing. It became apparent that some rot had set in so we had to completely redo the roof, do some additional framing to reinforce the floor and replace some boards. To keep a consistent look, my husband sought out rough sawn lumber from a local mill yard.
During construction, our girls have resided in the garage in a freezer box and are moved out into a baby gated yard during the day.
While my husband was evaluating and repairing the basic structure, I was doing research on BYC. We knew nothing about chickens or their homes so this was an invaluable resource for us. The design was mainly determined by the existing structure and then some brainstorming about how to incorporate the essential elements. Making the nesting boxes somehow became top priority to my husband although I assured him that they wouldn't be needed for several more months.
We live in the Northeast so winter is a big consideration. We covered the gaps between the boards with batten strips that we purchased, rather than wasting our rough sawn by ripping it down. We also decided to put in a "real" insulated window which we covered with hardware cloth.
We decided to add the pop door alongside the people door so that both could be enclosed within the run which will come straight off the front. Here are 2 of the 3 members of our human brood demostrating both the entrances.
Once all the trim was completed it was time to paint. We chose a green solid stain for the main body and an off white for the doors. The trim is done with a natural stain that will also be used for the run structure. It all went on beautifully in one coat. Of course, we had help.
During the many rainy days of late, the coop has been moved to its' permanent home in between the swingset and the garden.
Our chicks have moved into their new home, although we still have to keep them either inside the coop or moved out into the baby yard. The interior has been constructed almost entirely from materials we had already. The roosts were made from some pre-primed lumber from my husbands' workshop and he had an extra sheet of MDO (medium density overlay) that he used for the nesting boxes. The door to collect the eggs was made out of some boards that had been removed from the original shed and I posted for and received a piece of linoleum from Freecycle that we put on the floor to make cleaning easier. We will be attempting to use the deep litter method, but I wanted to avoid scraping dried poo off of bare wood at all costs.
So now just the run remains. While it has been raining, hubby has been building the structural elements in his workshop. The run will be 8 x 16 and and was built in sections that will stack up with a door at the opposite end from the coop. The top will be covered with aviary netting with one area having plywood to provide shade and shelter.
Today we brought the run sections into the garge to be stained. We took advantage of some sunshine and stacked them "house of cards" style to dry. Everytime a kid went running by we held our breath, but all went well and are now being fitted with wire prior to installation.
Mother nature has finally decided to give us a break and we have been able to get the run in place. I am probably being overly paranoid, but I wanted to make it extremely predator-proof as we have a den of foxes a very short distance away that has already gotten some of our neighbors' chickens and we have hawks that fly over quite frequently. We also have raccoons, fisher cats and I am sure some other critters that would love to get to our girls. Because the run sections were built in my husbands' shop, they are perfectly square. The coop (AKA nasty old shed) and ground it sits on are not. So attaching the run to the coop proved to be a challenge and we finally just had to "make it work". So we just got things as level as we could using the same ancient laws of physics that we used to move the shed around the yard. The 4x4, an old wooden box, a few concrete blocks and some PVC pipes made all the moving and shifting possible.
As the run has taken shape, the girls have enjoyed their new freedom and we love to watch them. Today, we got the aviary netting across the colar ties that were made to go across the top of the run, hung the door and DH made a ramp for the ladies to enter their door with ease. They showed their appreciation by promptly pooping on it. They love watching all the work and use the gaps between the run and ground as though that is how you are supposed to get out. I haven't told them that those will soon be covered.
The run is done and I can not even begin to explain how it all went together. I am going to try and get DH to add some more techinical details to this page. Although we chose the most level spot on our property for the coop, there were significant spaces between the bottom section of the run and the ground so he made up some inserts that served as mini-panels and filled them in. You can see these in the next photos as well as a nice "action shot" of one of the ladies. I love that they have all this room now to spread their wings!
The entire run is covered in chicken wire and then we ran hardware cloth halfway up the bottom section and extended it down and out onto the ground. It is held in place by both galvanized staples and screws and washers.
The section on the ground will be covered by dirt and mulch and we would like to do some planting around the whole coop. We also had to run the hardware cloth around the outside of the coop to cover the space at the bottom where it is up on cinder blocks. I like this space because the chickens can go under the coop for shade. For now, I put large rocks over the hardware cloth that is on the ground as some added protection.
The coop and run are now completed enough for the girls to be outside all day and we couldn't be happier.
:Still To Be Done
Bury the hardware cloth and add landscaping
Add the plywood section on top of run for shade/shelter
Wire it up for the light and one outlet (have the materials)
Install some small circular vents that we bought for extra ventilation
Get a deck box to store feed & supplies next to coop
Collect yummy eggs and have egg sandwiches every morning
When I am out in the yard I open the run and let them free range, but they still stick pretty close to home. They go inside at night all by themselves and then we lock things up. I can tell how much they love their new home and we even added some decor for them.
Here are some different views of the finished coop:
Things We Might Change or Do Differently:
Now that the coop is in use, we have found ourselves wishing that we had another window and possibly a door off the side so I don't have to walk through the run to do everything. I may try also try to incorporate a way to open the pop door from outside the run that I have seen using a rope and some PVC. These are changes that we can still make so check back in the future! If we had to do it all over again, we might reconsider using the old shed. We are more limited on space than we would like and didn't have any room for storage. The existing structure was in less than great shape so we had to do quite a bit of rehabing. We could probably have purchased a new shed or built one for not much more money. We do, however, feel very satisfied that we used a limited amount of new material and made something beautiful and useful out of what was an eyesore.
What I Like Most About Our Coop (besides the gals that live there):
I love the way that DH constructed the run. It provides the protection we need and looks great. I LOVE the color and the way it looks on the rough sawn boards. I also like how everything is layed out inside and feel it uses the small space very efficiently. I really like that it is located between the swingset and garden because it truly is a merger between fun and food and is another wonderful way to connect our children to where their food comes from. But the thing that I most love about the whole coop project is that my DH did it for me. He could have lived his whole life without chickens and been quite content, but he knew that I REALLY wanted to try this and that I was up to the challenge. Although I did the research and the bulk of the care for the chicks, he had to bare almost 100% of the construction responsibilities and he did everything I asked him to and more. He did it all because he loves me and that's what I will think of every time I open the door to collect an egg - Love.
Back to BYC