Unfortunately my first two chickens I ever owned called "Tikka and Masala" died of old age August 2016 within 3 weeks of each other.
I felt their loss very much and my husband said when I felt ready to have some new chickens he would build a coop that would be a nice size for 6 to 8 chickens, so we could have a range of ages and breeds.
My husband has spent his life around boats and working at sea, and after a couple of months of evenings and weekends the coop/ tractor "Tug boat Tikka Masala" was complete.
I am Japanese and have heard nobody is as "eggcentric" as an English man in his shed, and now I understand what that means.
The only requests that I wanted when he asked what I required in a coop was to open and close the coop chicken door without having enter the run, and able to remove the perches and poop trays for daily cleaning from both inside and outside the coop, to be able to access the eggs from 8 individual nest boxes from outside the coop, to have large well-lit opening windows and ventilation, 8 ft by 10 ft netted run area safe and secure, and the whole thing to be movable.
I'm very pleased with what his warped sense of humour and one track nautical mind came up with, and with his ability to produce it by his own hand from only scrap bits at very minimal cost.
It somehow seems a fitting tribute to our dear girls Tikka and Masala, and today 1st of July 2017 became the new home to our first three chickens of our new flock, "Kaley", "Ephelia" and "Cecilia" "K.F.C." for short (told you my husband had a warped sense of humour).
It will serve to bring back fond memories for years to come, and I hope this short story and pictures of how it came about brought a smile to your day also.
R.I.P. Tikka Masala.
Hi Everybody, I'm the eggcentric husband
The vision I had in my head was something like this:
Start the build process by making a level platform using 4"by 2".
Make the base frame as shown in floor plan (sketch A below) then screw or nail a 6ft by 4ft floor on top of the framework this will become the floor of the wheelhouse coop.
Decide on the height to make your wheel house coop, I would suggest make it just a few inches taller than yourself or the tallest family member who will be entering.
Luckily I'm only 5ft 6" and my wife being Japanese is "knee high to a grasshopper" so I managed to keep it low aspect, also I allowed for a 2" layer of insulation between the roof and bottom of the deck beams, this will keep them warm in winter and cool in the summer nights.
When height decided, then put up some corner posts to form the shape of a wheelhouse with deck beams running width ways, (remember to plane in some camber for the rain to drain off) then clad all this with plywood sheets. I have also then used fiberglass and resin to completely cover the exterior and roof to make sure it's water tight and also prevent it rotting out after a few years.
Add some portholes and windows for light and ventilation. This is the basic coop accommodation area.
The nest box areas on each side can then be built.
The base board has holes cut in it to hold the shape of a small shallow bowl, on which the hay is liberally spread and each side is then segregated with internal bulkheads to provide four 1ft by 18" individual cozy nest areas each side.
These are accessed by the girls through holes cut out of the port and starboard side bulkheads, and easily accessed by us humans from lifting side deck hatches. In our case varnished teak ones that were off cast from a super yacht during refit (recycling at the top end).
In the next photo, take note of the hatch lid drip-lip channel to prevent water from running into the nest areas and getting hay wet.
The main wheelhouse doors are again in our case super yacht throwaways put to good use, but a set of plywood doors would do just as well.
The small chicken entrance door in the aft bulkhead is just a similar size cut out as the nest box entrances, 1ft by 9", with some metal runners either side to enable it to open and close using a pulley system that works from a rope connected to the top of the door, going up into the deck head insulation area around a few pulleys and then running back down the front bulkhead, between the two windows, to the center spindle of the ships wheel.
I have also taken the center spindle out through the forward bulkhead to a small stainless steel wheel, to enable open/close operation from outside the coop.
I am hoping one day to add to this system with a nice new smart automatic coop door opener.
The perches are pieces of 2" by 1" screwed onto a shelf framework with gaps between for the poop to drop through and then be caught under there on a couple of plastic trays that are easily cleaned. The trays independently slide in and out on grooves routered into the underside of the shelf framework, which in turn slides in and out on draw sliders that connect it to the forward and aft bulkheads. A rectangular hatch needs to be cut into the port side to allow the whole shelf framework to be withdrawn from outside for cleaning.
There is a 2 stage ramped walkway to access the perches.
The hull shape run area is simply cut out of old plywood offcuts, 8ft by 8ft.
It simply bolts to the wheelhouse with two bolts so is very quick and easy to detach during the "coop tractor moving process".
This is big enough to enclose our old small coop, so we can segregate one or two of the flock for integration if necessary. It also has a door cut into the transom for when they are let out to free range the rest of the garden.
Some metal stanchions are bolted on the aft deck area and stainless steel fittings bolt onto the side of the wheel house to slide 3 plastic pipes in, this forms the framework to drape a netting over that clips into small hooks screwed along the edges of the deck.
I have added a shore power connection on the aft bulkhead, that supply's mains power from my workshop to a couple of sockets inside the coop, which in turn run the vacuum cleaner as our girls are house proud, and a video surveillance monitor that enable us to keep an eye on them. Just watching them is sometimes better than watching TV!
There are also lights, 1 white one just outside the main door for us to see when cleaning the run area after dark, and a red light inside the coop. Interestingly I heard somewhere that chickens didn't see red light. I'm now sure this is true as when it's on I have gone in to check and I can see perfectly but they are completely oblivious to any movement (try it with your birds).
Finally the wheels are fitted, these were old boat trailer wheels I had lying around. Then a false bow section just to complete the look of a tug boat. This section doubles up as a storage space for cleaning equipment, and also gives a nice dry area for them to sit under when out free ranging and a shower of rain comes.
Paint the whole thing to colors of your choice. Enjoy watching them, enjoying your hard labour!
If I was to start this project over, I would use thinner ply 1/4" would be fine if fiber glassed over.
The cost to build this coop is difficult for me to say because I used recycled boat parts and materials left over from previous jobs.
Since our girls have moved in one problem we've noticed is they are jumping up and down from the perch which could lead to injury. So to encourage them to use the nice access ramped walkway I netted off the area to block them jumping up and down.
It took them a few evenings of training to work out how to use the 2 stage ramp walkway, but now it's automatically the way they go to bed and get up in the morning.
I had to add 2 small round skylight windows in the foredeck, because the lower ramp walkway situated under the forward area was a darker area than the rest, and in the morning they were coming down the upper walkway but not seeing to turn the corner and go down the lower part, but now the morning light floods in through these skylights and it's solved the problem.
Thanks for reading. We hope you have a successful coop build with whichever design you choose to build and enjoy your project as much as we've enjoyed ours.