After much stalking of this website and its voluminous coop pictures, "The Breakfast Club" came to be over about a month or so of weekend work. We did not use plans on paper - just those in our heads.
We picked a fairly level corner of the backyard, far enough away from neighbors so that they wouldn't find my new hobby a nuisance. We built the run and coop as a single unit and did not sink the corner 4" x 4" posts because we figured that the weight upon completion of the structure would keep it in place. The total footprint is 12' wide x 8' deep x 8'(ish) tall (with a very slight slope for drainage). We used all treated lumber and framed the coop within the run, about 3' off the ground and its dimensions are 4' wide x 8' deep x 5'ish tall.
Features that I wanted to incorporate - easy cleaning access, external egg collection, plenty of ventilation, predator proof run, a room with a view for the girls, a design that looks good in our middle-of-town backyard.
Instead of plywood siding, we used 1" x 6" deck boards and ran them vertical. Since we knew they would shrink, we finished the seams with 1" x 2" batten boards.
The coop has cross ventilation - both of the angles under the roof provide venting and there are windows above the egg box (horizontal) and in front of the roosts on the other side of the coop (vertical). All openings that could potentially let in predators are sealed with 1/4 inch hardware cloth including the vent angles, windows, walls of the run and the entire floor of the run. (Since we built on the grass without a foundation we covered the floor completely and have a thick layer of sand and pine bedding on top.) The windows both have a top-hinged plexiglass frame that can be lowered to keep out rain or keep in heat when it gets chilly out.
After initially putting a tin roof up we had a hard rain and water blew in from the top into the coop through the vent angles because there was no overhang on either side - only on the front and back. We removed the roof completely, added supports for an additional overhang on either side and re-roofed the entire thing. A costly error, but since then we've had lots of rain and the coop has remained dry.
The coop has two full-length double doors on the front which give easy access to the inside of the coop if needed. The back side of the coop has a flip-up door that is essentially half of the back wall. This way I can pull the roosts in and out for cleaning and the poop tray is easily accessed. Also - since the coop is 8' wide, it's good for me to able to get to most of it from either side without having to climb inside. Speaking of climbing inside, the floor of the coop is completely removable if need be for deep cleaning. The floor was one piece of heavy plywood that we split in the middle and then cut to fit around corner posts, etc. We put vinyl flooring on top of it to protect it from moisture. The floor pieces simply lay on top of the frame - no screws, nails, etc. They are pretty heavy, so I'm not worried about them moving. But, a couple of times a year I can take pop the floors out and completely from underneath and hose down the inside of the coop if need be.
The egg box provides three spots for the girls to lay and a way for us to snag breakfast from the outside without them knowing it. The coop side within the run has a small door for them to come and go and I can close it securely at night.
The run has one solid wood side - this is intended to shield weather in at least a portion of the run on either really hot days (provides shade) or in the winter when the winds blow and snow falls.
I stained inside the coop a solid white to give it a brighter feel and also to make it easier to wipe clean. Outside, everything was stained with a cedar colored wood sealant.
Inside the coop we have a removable roost stand directly in front of the vertical window with four roosting bars (all on the same level) and a removable poop tray. We added L-brackets inside to hang a feeder and waterer from when it gets cold outside. (Our coop does not have electricity and I don't intend to add it.) (Update: After educating myself a bit more, I never put water in their coop because the threat of moister in their bedding is not something that I wish to contend with. I leave a little scratch inside the coop as an evening snack when the weather is cold, but their food isn't left in the coop either. The L-brackets have come in handy for hanging a battery-operated camping lamp though - nice when I'm cleaning out their coop after dark.)
We found an old wooden shipping box buried in the basement and added legs from scrap 4" x 4" pieces and covered it with scrap boards just to add interest. It will live under the egg box and provide storage for small tools and food/treats (in sealed plastic containers).
Overall, I'm happy with our construction project. Now we just need to add landscaping to finish it off. I hope the 5 girls arriving in a week-and-a-half love their new home. (Update: After several hard downpours we realized that the coop is located in a low spot in the yard resulting in a soggy mess within the run. We dug a trench around three sides, put in a drainage pipe and filled it back up with gravel in order to divert water coming down our sloped backyard around the run/coop. Worked like a charm and now only the edges of their run gets a bit soggy which they don't mind since there are still plenty of dry spots for them to escape to.)
Well, the chicks arrived - four hens and a rooster - in early September. After sweating through the heat of the summer to build our little farm slice in the middle of the city, I was thrilled for the inhabitants to arrive. Unfortunately, due to local ordinances, the rooster had to go live on a local farm, but our four remaining hens are happy little campers.
I'm very pleased with our coop and run design - it's easy to clean, dry, well ventilated and has helped our ladies withstand the tests of downpours, heavy winds, and snow, as well as temperature variances from 10 degrees to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
On Christmas Eve we were rewarded for our coop efforts with our first egg . . . an awfully nice early gift from the girls! As of two weeks ago they are all four now laying and we have more eggs than two people can eat.
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