Four years ago my wife Paula and I moved with our three children from the Dark Peaks in the north of England to Oxford Mississippi. My image of rural America was of the fabulous red barns with gambrel roofs, so choosing a theme for our chicken coop was easy ! It will house six to eight chickens and has a layout similar to the Wichita coop. We are finding there is plenty of loft space where our birds love to roost and we can store some bits and pieces we found we need to care for our flock.
I looked at plenty of pictures and read articles for inspiration and ideas. I made a list of features I wanted to include.
1. Secure. Anything I read says just about everything is out to eat your chickens ! The footings are made from concrete blocks sunk about 8" below ground to baffle critters of the digging variety. I used welded wire (hardware cloth) rather than chicken wire over the frame. I will lay the spare hardware cloth down on the ground around the coop before seedinf turf.
2. Shelter from the elements. I wanted the coop to be very open, providing lots of light and ventilation. When the chickens are in the run they sometimes like to go underneath the roost, using it as shelter from the sun or rain. Our feeder is also under the roost, keeping the grain from getting wet. I insulated the roost with foam ( again from Home Depot scrap bin !) and a double skin, keepIng it cooler in the summer and warm in the winter. With the addition of a heat lamp we were able to use the roost as a brooder.
3. Outside access to eggs.
3. Easy to clean and maintain.
After that I'll confess that I enjoyed our project all the more by making things up as I went along. Sometimes you just need to get started and see where things go ! We built the coop as and when we could afford materials, but I've made a shopping list along with rough cost and drawings to help anyone wanting to build a similar coop.
Don't be afraid to have a go. When you get down to it building a coop is great fun and not at all difficult. The carcass is made from 2x4 framing lumber. Home Depot stores have a 70% off section where you can rummage for off cuts. The outside is made from planks we salvaged from old fence panels a neighbor was disguarding. Applying some infallible man logic I figured the money saved would justify buying a chop saw. It didn't pay financially of course, but it was well worth the investment ! I found a very helpful video explaining how to lay roof shingles here :-
The roof trusses are made of the same 2x4 framing lumber.
Emily, mum and granny enjoying a chat with the chickens
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