So . . . the chicken journey has begun. My only son/child moved out of the house to head off to a new educational adventure a week ago. To keep me from obsessing about his impending departure, I started a chicken project about a month ago. Additionally, my husband and I will celebrate 20 years of wedded bliss in about a month and when he asked what I wanted to do to mark the occasion, I told him I wanted a chicken coop. Once he realized that I was serious he pulled out his tools and off to work we went on our building project. It took about a month of weekends from beginning to end and we're pretty happy with the results of our first venture into chicken coop building. The girls arrive (1 Barred Rock, 1 Buff Orpington, 1 Ameraucana, 1 Pearl Leghorn & 1 Rhode Island Red) in a week and a half and I hope they like their new digs as much as I do.
The Breakfast Club . . .
We found the most level piece of the backyard we could, far enough away from neighbors to keep everyone happy, and then framed in a 12' long X 8' wide space for the run to include a 4' x 8' space elevated 2 feet off the ground for the coop. We left the ground natural and did not anchor the corner posts because we figured with the total weight upon completion - this sucker won't be going anywhere anytime soon.
Framed two windows - one for the girls to look through while on their roosts inside and another above the egg box for cross ventilation.
After enclosing the entire floor of the run and all exposed sides with hardware cloth we went to work on the siding. 1" x 6" deck boards are what we used instead of ready-made panels because I like the look of the wood.
When we installed the roof initially we didn't have an overhang on either end - just on the front and back. The roof is pitched slightly for water run off, and for ventilation purposes we left the slants at the top of the coop open. Unfortunately, after the first rain, we found that water blew in terribly and no one wants a wet coop, so back to the roof drawing board we went. We figured out a way to add overhangs to either end and then roofed it again with new tin. It looks a bit more finished this way as well.
Since deck boards shrink after a while, we added battens to keep the coop from being too drafty. Then staining commenced.
It took the better part of two weekends and one week to get the entire thing stained, but I'm glad I did it. The cedar color is really pretty without the expense of actual cedar. The entire coop and run is made of treated pine.
The box under the egg box is an old wooden one we had in the basement - we added legs and the scrap wood parts and pieces to add interest. I'll use it for storage.
So - the coop has windows on either side that are covered with hardware cloth and I added tilting plexiglass windows that can be a weather shield. A couple of other features that I hope to find helpful in the future - the entire floor of the coop can be removed for cleaning. It's two pieces of composite board that just sit on top of the frame. The inside was structured so that the floor can be lifted out without hindrance. The inside has four removable roosting bars with a removable poop tray beneath, three egg boxes that are lined with plastic trays (and covered for the time being from the inside until the girls are of laying age) and a place to hang a waterer and feeder.
The back side of the coop has a flip-up door for easy weekly poop cleaning, full doors on the front for easy access to the food and water in the winter and external egg box access for ease of breakfast collecting. The run has hooks installed under the coop for the food and water to hang within it for most of the year.
The run is 8 feet tall at its highest and 7'1/4" at it's lowest. Hopefully the solid end panel will aid in keeping parts of the run dry/snow proof this winter. It also offers additional shade in the summer. I attached two dishes for grit and oyster shells on this side.
We didn't use plans but I did a good bit of research before we started. I had in my head what I wanted it to look like and then we muddled our way through construction.
Stay tuned for pictures of our new peeps in a few weeks.