THE CHICK SHELL-A
[container][/container]We live in the rain forest of Southern Louisiana in Katrina Country. It's always hot and humid here even in the winter. It rains almost every day during the summer. The kind of rain Forrest Gump described. Big ole fat drops of rain - several inches of rain - or as my Texan husband calls them instead of storms "a real turd floater". So we built the coop high off the ground. My husband made a simple rectangular frame which we covered in the hard wire used in hutches. My son made the triangle A-shaped frame. At the ends for the nest boxes he put a plywood board floor and nest dividers that slide out for cleaning or replacing. There is a big door in front - big enough for us to get in coop if we had to - and two smaller double doors in back. The large front door has a smaller "chicken door" cut in it and hinges up to open. The walk plank and chicken door can both be dropped at night for security. So far the coop is working out great. The run is large 30' x 60' and is chicken wire but left uncovered except at the far end where I have placed bird netting. The rest of the run is covered with overhanging trees and is guarded 24/7 by the chicks' Daddy Rex, our GSD. We've begun to add some landscaping bushes and plants. Some for them to eat and some for them to hide/sleep under because I will eventually remove their old baby pens. They are allowed to free range our 8 1/2 acres of mostly woods but they normally keep really close to their home. They must really like their coop because they now spend the better part of the heat of the day inside the coop where it is nice and cool. Having it elevated has helped with the flooding rains and with the heat. It also gives them a place to rest during the day, in the shade, under the coop, and we keep food and water bins under the floored nest box area, on the ground so their food and water bins are also sheltered. There's plenty of room inside also for food and water. I hang the food pail on a large screw just under the frame and just enough to keep it off the ground. Keeps it from sitting in water during heavy rains and keeps the ants from crawling in it or varmit from opening it - but not so high that I have to heft a 25 lb can - It's only about an inch off the ground. We based the whole design on the Old New Orleans style homes that are raised off the ground with high ceilings and vents at top. The coop has wire vents above doors. Total height of coop at tallest point is 6 feet. Coop is 17 feet long and 4 1/2 feet wide. We did learn a lesson in building it and that is that most building materials like plywood come in 4 x 8 foot sheets. If we had thought about that, we could have made it just a tad shorter and narrower and would have gotten by with just the plywood we had on hand - some old hurricane "shutters" left over from Katrina. Having a wire floor means I don't have to clean out the coop - droppings fall through to ground underneath where they are promptly heat dried by our 100 degree temps - just hose it out every week or so if necessary. If it ever gets cold here (I wish) - I could throw hay in and cover the ventilation system/floor or cut boards and lay over wire flooring. It's still a work in progress. We only have 9 chickens so there's lots of room. YIPPIEE - now I can get more chicks.
What I would do differently - make it smaller so less plywood needed - 4 inches narrower would have meant one sheet instead of two. Would have used the rolled roofing over whole thing instead of just over nest box area. However, hubby says the metal roof reflects heat and that's why it stays so cool.
What I may do soon - Cut the nest box lid in two, vertically down the middle, and move the hinges to the sides making a set of double doors so I can open one side at a time if I want. It's a little heavier than I would like right now cause it's so big. We'll see when it's egg gathering time how it works the way it is now.