It's Finally Done!
Well almost done (some trim to paint, run roosts and a sign)- we've had many types of livestock through the years from llamas, horses, nigerian dwarf goats, guineas, rabbits etc; however when we sold the land and moved to a historic area of town on 1/2+ acres, chickens started to nudge at the edges of our "minds". Over the last five years I've (with my husband nodding) thought off and on of chickens - the old "should I or shouldn't I". Then this year a friend I met through showing rabbits posted she had mille fleur d'uccles - so there came the nudge again. I had decided not to when the "avian flu" scare was brought up again on the news that night and my husband said perhaps I should with a grin....so started the chicken project among the wettest spring I've ever seen in Texas.
My "request" regarding chicken breeds was: bantam, great temperament, good egg layer and pretty. We ended up getting 10 two week old mille fleur and calico bantam cochin chicks. Out of 10 we only ended up with 3 girls...Ethel, Lucy and Millie. Later from the same breeder (due to quarantine issues), an almost 1yr old calico hen now named Aunt Bee and a 2 wk old mille fleur named Gidget (all named after old tv shows of course). Having different ages will allow for us to have eggs consistently during molts.
We live in North Texas so our summers are humid and hot with a short spring and mild (low of 27 degrees) in winter. Our requirements for a coop/run were: situated to protect against our severe spring storms, best possible handling of heat/ventilation, easy to clean, good drainage due to clay soil, full height, protected from all the critters in Texas while able to house a minimum of 7 bantams and attractive as it can be seen from the driveway and from the road in winter. I researched and with the help of my husband (a project manager for multi million $ residential construction jobs)...we ended up with a 5'x12'x7'+ high run and coop. I drew the plans and he let me know where I needed a 2x2 in lieu of a 1x2...she grins.
Then the storms hit and it rained non-stop (virtually) for weeks! Its June 30th and after 3 wks of work in a steam box with temps in the 90s and having waited since April 1st for the rain to stop, its finally finished. We were lucky in that we have a 16' trailer that we were able to use to build the walls on (helped in keeping them square).
The run/coop has 6+" of washed construction sand for the floor over natural clay soil (with erosion fabric under the sand) that I will add peat moss to as needed in winter. Lower sill beam (2x4 on concrete block) is cedar left natural, structure built of pine/fir (coop walls of siding) and painted in barn paint except for the coop walls interior/exterior and walk door that is painted in semi-gloss. The entire roof including open coop roof is 1/2" hardware cloth as are the walls and 1' into the ground. Its placed and nailed on concrete blocks raised above the soil level. Walls were laid out in a width that allowed 3' hardware cloth to be used to be the most cost effective. Ceiling panels are clear poly to provide light in the winter once the pecan tree looses its leaves. The doors into the coop include a pop door (exterior pull), clean-out on the coop end (nice big door so there is no bending) and egg door along with hardware cloth lined windows on opposite walls. The walk door has stops on the outside with the door opening inward to keep chickens from escaping when you don't want them to. It has a return spring and a gate latch on the inside of the coop (so no need for exterior lock as you can't get to the latch from outside) and a "pull-up" string/pulley on the front of the door to open it with an added caribiner that can be put through 2 eye bolts for added security. The interior of the coop has a wood floor (made of a big commercial building realtor sign of waterproof material), 2 removable roosts and 2 nest boxes.
Currently our 5 girls are using a typical water container (to which I add 3 frozen bottles to in the am due to the 100+ temps) and a calcium dispenser using a j feeder normally sold for rabbits. Their auto feeder is out of a plastic see-through bin and pvc elbows (keeping rain out of the feed/ allowing me to see when it needs to be filled and no scattering) and after the heat has passed perhaps, an automatic water system using a cooler and side mounted nipples that will keep the water cool and no more scrubbing the water container.
We added a mister system across the front that is on a timer to help with 100+ temps.
Now the question I see everyone asking on BYC - how much? We had some of the paint, erosion fabric, coop floor and all the tools needed. Cost of materials about $750 (not incl. the mister/timer) with the wood (we split our own 2x2s, etc) costing the most (panels 6 x $23 and wire 1/2" 3' wide 100' $139 from Wayfair, sand 1 1/2 yds $65). Cost was helped by designing it for the size of hardware cloth and maximum lumber use.
Thanks for listening and to Garden Coop and everyone else for ideas, I think we ended up with the best possible run/coop for our weather!