The Phunny Pharm
By: Bobby & Tiffany Roseberry
We had been discussing getting chickens so we started researching breeds. Pretty early on we found backyardchickens.com. We found out that a neighbor the next street over has chickens and that our area of town has its’ own Facebook Group. A couple of people in my office have chickens so I started asking questions. It turns out that one of the ladies I work with had just gotten six baby chicks and she was only going to be able to keep three of them. At this point, we decided that 3 was not enough so we went and got 3 more. So, surprise, we had six baby chicks and nothing ready for them. We starting looking for a chicken coop. We combed online sites looking at the various designs and dimensions. We settled on one. We were just seconds from ordering it when got out a tape measure to see exactly how big it actually was. It seemed so small. So, we decided to build our own. We looked at a lot of the coop designs on byc.com. There were two that most inspired us, the USSEggSurprise https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/usseggsurprises-chicken-coop and The Palace Chicken Coop https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-palace.
My husband decided that he wanted to put it next to our tool shed and to build a storage area between the coop and the tool shed. We decided that we wanted a coop and run all in one structure. Since the tool shed was 10 feet deep we decided to make the coop/run 8’ x 10’. The coop itself would be 4’ x 8’, and would be 17” off the ground, which would give the chickens plenty of space in the run and a nice shaded area under the coop itself. And the whole structure would be covered.
We marked off the 8’ x 10’ area and began by digging an outline of the structure in order to poor concrete footings. This would help to keep predators from digging under the run. The trench was about 6” deep and 4” wide. Then we mixed up quick drying concrete and filled in the trench. It was important that the concrete be level since this is the foundation of the structure.
Next we started framing the outside walls.
We used concrete cut nails to attach the frame to the concrete footings.
We wanted a sloped roof so that water would run off. In order to accomplish this we built 3 walls 6’ high and the 4th wall (the one closest to the shed) 7’ tall.
As we framed up the roof, the 2” x 4”s going from an 8’ side to a 10’ side would create the slope for the roof.
We had to have an inspection by the head chicken in charge before we could go any further. It seems to have met her requirements.
Next we added the roof decking which consists of several sheets of 3/4” plywood. While the 3/4” plywood is more expensive we wanted to ensure that the roofing nails would not come through the decking underneath.
It’s hard to tell from the picture but the plywood decking for the roof is all the way up against the tool shed. Ultimately this will be a covered storage area. Once the decking was complete we installed roofing paper and shingles.
Next we framed up the floor for the coop. We put ½” hardware cloth around the inside of the run underneath the area for the coop floor. At some point, we realized we should have put the hardware cloth on the outside instead of the inside. It was too late to turn back at that point.
For the door to the run, we started by buying a screen door at Home Depot. When we got it home, we realized that it was too tall for the opening.. So we took it apart, cut the sides down and put it back together. We removed the screen and replaced it with 1/2" hardware cloth. It was already primed in white. Initially we didn't like it because it did not match the rest of the run. After a couple of weeks, we decided it was too flimsy so we took it down and built our own out of treated 2" x 4"s. Now it matches the rest of the treated lumber in the run. It's definitely much sturdier.
We installed ½” plywood for the coop floor. We also laid inexpensive linoleum tiles on the coop floor to make it easier to muck out. They are just peel and stick. By this point, things were getting pretty cramped inside the plastic tub in the house. We wanted to at least give the girls some time in the afternoons (after work) to spend outside in the run. So we installed more of the ½” hardware cloth around the rest of the run. The hardware cloth is not very easy to work with so it is time consuming to install. It’s well worth every second spent to keep your chickens safe from predators. Several people in my neighborhood have already lost their chickens to dogs.
Now we were ready to start putting up the walls. This was a little like putting a puzzle together. Since we wanted to install insulation between the walls, we had to do one wall at a time. We had to install the outside siding, then the insulation, then the plywood on the inside. It got a little trickier when we got to the last wall.
We ordered a small shed window through Ebay. The window helps to let light in during the day and to help with ventilation.
We left a space to make an access door inside the run area. We also left a space for the coop door that the chickens use to access the coop.
We decided to install an automatic coop door. We went with the Murray McMurray Coop Controller. It came with detailed instructions and was very easy to install. It has a door that closes at sunset and opens at sunrise. It also comes with a light that is programmed to come on 8 hours after the coop door closes. This is to encourage the hens to lay their eggs in the mornings before going out to the run. I know, I know, it sounds like an unnecessary expense. It is well worth it. Especially on those days when aren’t going to make it home before it gets dark outside. It only took a couple of days for our hens to get used to it. They put themselves to bed at night.
The ramp was made with some left over ¾” plywood. We just cut sections of screen mold to make rungs for the ramp.
The nesting boxes had us stumped for a while. A lot of the plans we looked at didn’t really have a frame for the nesting boxes. They just used plywood. It may be a bit of overkill, but we couldn’t figure out to make it work without framing it. We figured we certainly would not regret framing it up because it will hold up longer. For a while, that even had me trying to figure out how to attach the pieces of frame together. That is until my husband made a trip to Home Depot where they have all different kinds of metal plates made just for this kind of thing. We just covered the framing with the same siding as the outside walls. We put partitions in to make 3 nesting boxes. We filled them with hay and put a couple of golf balls, hoping that the hens could figure out that this is where they are supposed to lay their eggs.
For the access to the nexting boxes, we cut two pieces of ½” plywood and glued them together to make a thicker piece of plywood. We attached this to the nesting box frame with gate hinges. We used the same shingles to cover the lid of the nesting boxes.
We made the access door inside the run out of the piece of siding that we cut out for the door way. We just attached 1 x 3’ to make the outside frame of the door. We overlapped the 1” x 3” around the top, bottom and opening side of the door to ensure that the door would fit snug.
We also made window shutters out of the left over 1” x 3” material. It gets pretty hot in Memphis in the summer so we hung a box fan so that it circulates air inside the run.
At this point, all that was left to do was paint. Fortunately my husband is a painter by trade so he had all of the equipment we needed. We also got lucky because he had enough paint left over from a job that was more than enough for our coop.
We installed two wireless webcams. One is mounted on the back of our house (Foscam 8905W). It is made specifically for being outdoors. The second is mounted on top of the inside coop wall. This camera is a Foscam FI8918W and it has pan feature that allows me to see inside the coop at night and then pan around and see inside the run during the day. Both cameras were easy to install. You can buy them directly from Foscam, or from Ebay/Amazon. I did have an issue with another wireless device inside the house interfering with the signal. Since I figured out what was causing it, we haven’t had any more trouble. These are a couple of shots from the webcam. They also have infrared so we can see any night-time predators.
Within a week or so the grass in the run was gone so we decided to use red sand to cover the floor of the run and the coop. We read this article https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/using-sand-in-your-chicken-coop and decided to give it a try. We got it from a local concrete company. It is red and it is more coarse than white sand. The beauty of it that we scoop the chicken poop with a litter box scoop.
Here are several pictures showing the finished product.
Two of our original chicks turned out to be roosters so we had to find a new home for them. We were left with 3 Rhode Island Reds (20 weeks old) and 1 Ameraucana (19 weeks old). We got four Silver Laced Wyandottes from out local feed store. We got four of them because we felt bad that they were 7 weeks old and were still in tubs at the feed store. We got our first eggs this week from the older girls. We are very proud chicken parents.
Although we are extremely pleased with the final product, there are a few things we could have done better. The window was a bit of an after thought (after the framing was done), so we had to put the window in between two existing studs, which means it is not centered. While we ran electricity to our coop from our shed, we did not take into consideration how short the are cords for the coop controller and the wireless cameras. We're managing with extension cords. Once the nesting boxes were finished, we realized they are a little big. We figure it's better that they are too big than too small.
It was constructed well and will serve us well for many years. It is plenty large enough for us to add a few more chickens.
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