THE NANCY CREEK COOP
This is my (mostly) finished three run coop complex. The front main run and coop (pictured above) I built from scratch. Behind them is what I call the Hobbit house. It was an existing shed that I modified for the chickens and connected to the main run. Behind the hobbit house is a run that the previous owner had built. It wasn't up to my standards though so I have modified it also. The front run is 6'x18' and the two back runs are roughly 9'x20'
Unfortunately I don't have any plans or schematics because I just kind of made it up as I went along. I think you will get a good idea of the layout however. Starting at the front wooden door pictured above, I will move to the right around the entire complex and end on the red and white coop above.
As I was building the main run, we were about to move to a new house, so I needed whatever I built to be portable. The main run is built around a steel frame that I welded together from scrap at the fabrication yard I work at. I then bolted 2x6 runners all the way around, and wrapped the sides and roof with galvanized 1/2" x 1" mesh fencing. I ended up roofing the whole thing as well to keep the run dry in our Florida downpours. I welded hooks to the top of the run so it could be moved easily with a tractor when the time came. The run connects to the coop through a framed pathway that you can see in the bottom picture. This way the coop and run can be moved separately. They are not attached at all, the pathway from the coop simply slips into the "docking station" on the run and it is ready to go. It is a tight fit to keep predators out and both are too heavy to be moved without equipment so it is safe and secure. I added "porches" to either side of the run for feeding platforms and to maximize the space. After we moved, I meshed the floor of the run as well and added some nice sod for the girls. They took to it nicely. They particularly like the sand bath. The pictures below are taken of both ends of the run standing in the doorway.
Moving around to the right, you can see the Hobbit house behind the main run. This shed was already on the property when we bought it, but it was in shambles. I put the run that I had previously built right next to it and connected the two. Then I tore out both ends of the shed and modified it for nesting boxes.
I wanted to design an easy external system for egg collection, so that my wife or any neighbors that we may ask to collect our eggs don't have to open any doors which may let chickens out and keeps them from walking through chicken poo to get the eggs. Because the space at this end is narrow due to trees, I couldn't go with the usual protruding nest boxes with lids. So I came up with a sliding lid on a track design that wouldn't protrude outwards at all.
The nesting boxes are underneath the tin lid pictured above. The two pins on either side hold the lid shut when not in use. To collect the eggs, you simply pull both spring pins, and push the lid away from you. I fixed the lid on drawer tracks with ball bearings so it slides very easily. Hopefully you can see from the pictures below how it works. The lid slides under the wooden frame, keeping a nice tight gap. The sloping mesh is to keep the hens from walking on the lid and disturbing anyone that may be nesting. Once open it's just a matter of picking up the eggs and pulling the lid shut again. All of the mesh above the lid provides good ventilation as well.
Moving around further to the right to the back run now you can see that it is also attached to the Hobbit house. I am using this back run for my younger girls right now, so it is not open to the Hobbit house, but in December, when the youngens are old enough, I will make another door to connect all three runs, so the girls will have free reign of three large runs when they are not out free-ranging. In the picture below you can see some of the girls having a feed. There are two cochins, two brahmas, a polish crested, an houdan, an americauna, and a dominique. The mesh is buried in the ground to keep predators out.
Below is a view of the entire back run. All of the skulls hanging are ones I have found in the woods around our house. I know it's a little macabre, but maybe it will ward of other predators.
Moving around again you can see the entrance to the back run and it's position in relation to the hobbit house. The door frame and door are some of my additions. The door that was on there was pretty sorry, so i tore it out and built a nice sturdy one and added some extra chicken wire inside the run down low to keep anything from reaching in at ground level. Below, you can see the wall of the Hobbit house through the wire, that is where I will add another pop door when the chicks are old enough.
Moving around again you can see the front of the hobbit house and where it sits with the back run and the main front run. The hobbit house is connected to the main run by what I call "The Chunnel", which you can kind of see in the picture below.
Just for reference, below is what it looked like before I built the ends on and added The Chunnel
This is what it looks like now. (Sorry for the fuzzy picture)
The hens had no problem using the Chunnel, in fact I wasn't even done screwing it in before my buff orp pushed past me to walk through.
Below you can see the inside of the hobbit house. There are additional feeders and waterers, as well as crushed shell near the laying boxes. The nests sit on a wire shelf with plenty of space to jump up and walk around without hitting the boxes.
Here is how The Chunnel connects into the hobbit house, with one of my EE's mooning the camera.
Moving back up to the top once again we come to my pride and joy, the coop. I built the coop entirely out of steel. The floor is galvanized grating so the majority of the poop falls straight to the ground. Any additional cleanup takes less than 5 minutes with a hose. I built in tracks to slip plywood under the floor however so in winter I can put them in to keep out drafts. The doors on either side are off of an old truck bed we had laying around at work. I framed openings for the doors and added steel mesh for ventilation. I also added an adjustable A/C register on the back for more ventilation that I can adjust to keep out drafts. There is additional ventilation around the eaves of the roof, so any heat or odours rising can escape easily. It is approximately 25 sq feet, but the nine girls I have in there now seem to comfortabely cram themselves into about 5 sq feet. I was worried about the steel being too hot, but with it being in the shade and having so much ventilation, it stays exactly the same as the outside temp.
I also put independantly adjustable feet on the legs of the coop, so that no matter where I put it, I could level it easily.
Below you can see the roosts inside of the coop and the doorway into the run. In the picture immediately below you can see the A/C vent underneath the roosts.
So that is it. In the coming months I plan to run water and electricity to the coops, but besides that and the pop door into the rear run (which I'm going to use an old boat hatch for) it's pretty much done. So far it has worked out great. Thanks for looking!