The Hen House

By myfivegirls, Jan 11, 2012 | |
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  1. myfivegirls
    The Corner Coffee Shop Coop
    (The color of the paint)
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    I wanted to share with others what can be done with "scrap" wood that most people would consider "useless". So, if you're short on money, but have lots of odds and ends or "leftovers" from another building project, I hope this will inspire you. Also, you may be able to get free or cheap wood through craigslist, an ad in your local newspaper or even from a construction project where they're throwing out "good" re-usable wood. Also, sometimes there is "cull lumber" available at a lumber yard for a reduced price. There are also some other coop pages that have reused kid's swingsets, playhouses, etc.




    When I got my first five hens in August 2008, we needed to build a coop as quickly as possible, as the "girls" were sleeping in a dog crate in my brother's shed. We had limited materials, as I mostly had scrap lumber that needed to be used up. I didn't have the money to buy any new building materials, so that wasn't an option. We got most of our ideas from a neat how-to book called, "Country Wisdom and Know-how".
    Because I had never raised chickens before, this book gave me great tips about building a coop.

    • It recommended a side hill or gentle slop or any place where there's good drainage.
    • Make sure there are no cracks, holes or drafts for protection from predators.
    • It also detailed space requirements, such as 3.0 sq. ft/bird for "open housing" and 7.5 sq. ft/bird for confined housing (where they never go outside, but aren't caged). We had a hard time deciding how big we should build the coop, but finally decided on a 4x8 structure for the 5 hens.
    • It stressed the need for ventilation, suggesting that drop-down covers be installed over hardware cloth holes to regulate the amount of air flow. I used old wire screening stapled to the roof, which could be raised or lowered as needed. Rodents chewed through the screening in the fall of 2010, and the roof was also hard to raise. So, I'm planning on changing the design in the spring of 2011.
    • Coops should have roosts consisting of 8" of space per bird, 2 ft. off the floor, preferably a 2x4 board. It's important to provide a flat surface so their their toes keep warm in the winter. We had old 1x2 rafters from a trailer that we took apart, and used for the roosts, floor supports, etc. The original design of the roost was a long rectangle with chicken wire stapled to the 1x2s. It worked great, but this spring I changed the design twice. I just put one 2x3 on end and a solid board on the back to collect the droppings. The only problem was that the poop collected so fast, and I didn't clean it off enough. So, I just removed the solid board, and now it works great.
    The current roost in the 4x8 coop.
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    • The book also suggested one 14"x14" nesting box for every 4 hens; since we had 5 chickens, we built one large one, so they could share. I now have a second nesting box made out of a plastic storgage container with a box inside.
    • It is also a good idea to install a window to provide natural light and to provide artificial light for the winter months. We used a small sliding window that we had gotten at a reduced price, and provided CFL lighting on a timer.
    • The book described four basic kinds of flooring: dirt, wood, droppings boards and concrete; We decided to use a wood floor, covered by flat metal sheeting that was used in dog kennels. As was suggested for easier cleaning, we built a two-layer chicken wire floor with a wooden frame and supports, with the aim of their poop falling through the holes to the clean litter beneath. It worked great until winter hit, and the poop froze in place under the roosts and had to be chopped off the wire "floor". I decided that it was more work than it was worth. So, now, I'm using the deep litter method.
    • As far as bedding, most people use the shavings. But, I've been using mostly leaves and straw, and have had no problem with it. I do also add shavings occasionally or in certain high-traffic areas.

    We didn't draw up any plans, as we kind of had to build-as-we-went, since we only had scrap lumber at our access.
    Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos of the coop in it's very early stages.

    1st picture: We covered the coop with a tarp, so that it wouldn't get wet from rain before we painted.
    2nd picture:The first coat of paint on the inside.
    3rd picture: Mom & I standing in the coop, and the new window that my brother just installed.
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    The whole family helped build the coop.
    Dad cutting out two entrances into the nesting box. Even the dogs got in on the action.
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    My Brother putting the finishing touches on the nesting box.
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    The 2008 completed coop interior. Since then, we've changed a few things.
    The wire flooring has been removed, along with the feed-wasting bird feeders.
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    The finished outside of the coop - winter of 2008
    It's basically the same now, except for expanding the yard.
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    The roof was made out of those metal "dog kennel" dividers that was also used for flooring.
    We "sealed" the edges between the pieces with "Through-the-Roof" sealer.
    So far, it's held up great, and there's been no leaks. Not bad for free roofing!
    We used a pre-owned "hollow" door that we cut down to fit the coop and added a soffit vent.
    I only things I bought for the coop was the hardware, screws, window, paint, light and timer. Just about everything else was "recycled".



    What I'd change on the 4x8 coop:
    1. Change the ventilation system by replacing the metal screening with hardware cloth and building wooden "flaps" to be opened or closed, according the need.
    2. Add 2 other nesting boxes on the outside, due to "morning rush hour" and to provide more floor space.
    Adding onto the Coop
    Of course, like most people who are "bitten by the chicken bug", the 4x8 coop was going to be too small for the addition of 11 more chickens. I was originally going to add on a 4x4 coop, but that got enlarged to 6x6. After cutting down some trees and digging out an "under-the-coop" space, I finally got down to building the addition.
    This time, I decided to take more photos of the progress, since I knew I'd want to make a BYC coop page. I also planned it out a little more, although, my original design changed from what it turned out to be. Here's what I was originally thinking of:
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    I realized that if I was going to build an addition, I should probably add an additional
    2' onto every side, and change the door location:

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    You'll notice that I put "chicken wire with wooden frame to separate them" - that
    was temporary for when the chicks were young. It is now removed.

    The foundation was made out of pallets resting on cinder blocks; after adding plywood.
    Again, we had mostly scrap lumber, so not everything was square or "perfect".
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    Framing out the coop walls and adding the roof rafters:
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    The two coops side by side, and the outside view of new coop with siding
    and expanding foam in cracks, since the wood had to be pieced together:
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    The door andentilation with board covers installed (old coop roof in foreground): v
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    The inside of the new coop: the little cut-out hole leads into the 4x8 coop;
    The painted wall used to be outside of the old coop; we added purchased plywood to the floornew.
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    Putting the insulation in and the first piece of recycled luan on the inside wall:
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    Outside and inside of the coop primed, the flooring installed, and the roost made:
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    Everything painted with "Corner Coffee Shop".
    It's amazing how paint can make something built with old wood look so great!
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    The 4-week-old girls getting used to their new coop.
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    Those two homemade feeders worked great for most of the summer,
    but the cap on the waterer had to be screwed tight or it would overflow.
    The wooden structure in the background was the base of a tetter-totter that my
    brother had built for dog agility. Here, I transformed it into a "chicken tunnel".
    The "girls" loved running through it, roosting and pooping on it,
    and now I use it as a portable step-stool in their yard.
    It's amazing how many uses there are for one recycled item !

    Oh, and for the roof, I used the siding of a metal storage shed.
    (Note: the color of coop and 12x12 shed with green metal roof are the same)

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    Also, I built a screened door using chicken wire and hardware cloth
    for the new coop for the summer time when it's hot at night and everyone's panting:


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    The Finished Coop:
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    Total Cost: approximately $200 for both coops!



    What I'd change on the 6x6 coop:
    1. Make another roost and remove the tree branches.
    2. Build a wooden feeder onto the wall to the right of the door, so it would provide more floorspace.


    Thanks for visiting my coop page. I hope it gives you some ideas and inspires you!

    Esther walking on the roof on a winter day!
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