A-Frame Concept For Northern Climate

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by latebloomer, Mar 24, 2011.

  1. latebloomer

    latebloomer Songster

    Feb 10, 2011
    green mountain state
    hi there.

    i'm new to chickens and am hoping to have about a half dozen hens, i'm going to need a coop and run for them and i'm thinking about an a-frame concept with insulated panels i'll make from sandwiching 2" rigid insulation between one layer (each side) of plywood and a 2x4 frame. i'm in vermont.

    here's my first design of the coop for your review and comment.

    i'm not showing any roofing or siding in the sketch, but i will have those covering the sandwich panels.

    i'm not showing any ventilation, but i haven't forgotten that either.

    have at it, but no laughing.

    Last edited: Mar 24, 2011

  2. Joz

    Joz Songster

    Jun 8, 2009
    MidCity, New Orleans
    Nice drawing. I've always liked the A-Frame coop/run concept.

    Seems to me your framing is a bit heavy. 4x4's for the overall A-frame, sure, but I don't know that you need a 4x4 beam to support your SIPs (especially since the span is only... what, 4'-0"?), or that you need to use 3/4" ply for your SIPs...but I'm in a subtropical climate and don't deal with insulation much. If is for your R-value, then I get it... will be quite heavy to work with, tho.

    You got a long elevation drawn yet? I get where you're going with the section, but security and access aren't real clear yet. Depending on the security of the enclosed area and whether you're planning on cooping them up every night, changing out the chicken wire for a heavier material (1/2" welded wire mesh) may be wise. Really consider how the wire is going to attach to the frame, and whether you're concerned if the edge is exposed.

    Am curious about your connection details between the SIPs, and between the SIPs and the framing... but that's not chicken/coop related. [​IMG]

    I know what structural insulated panels are, but I don't work with them, and I've certainly never made one myself. I'm curious... shouldn't the plywood go on the outside of the 2x4 framing? Would allow better connections, and be more structural in itself.... ? Or does that make the cavity too large for the available insulation?
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Well, you *could*.

    But, gee, Vermont. That's not a good place for an A-frame (unless you have a separate coop to winter them in). First, because it provides so little usable indoor space, and believe me they are likely to be spending a lot of time indoors for several months; and second, because it is so much harder to maintain good air quality without freeze-drying your chickens with cold wind.

    If you want to do a tractor-style (movable) coop, a) that's already gonna be too heavy to move without a vehicle or some REALLY strong friends, and b) the chickens would have significantly more usable indoor floorspace if you did a rectangular box-style thing rather than A-frame.

    But honestly a fixed, and therefore LARGER, coop would be a whole lot better for your needs. I have no clue how many chickens you are going to have but for VT I would suggest that you not even *think* about giving them less than 6-8 sq ft apiece indoors (plus sheltered run) and more like 10-15 sq ft apiece would be better. For, say, half a dozen chickens that would mean making the henhouse somewhere between 6x8 and 8x12. Plus a run that is at least windblocked on 3 sides and ideally strongly-roofed as well.

    If you really wanna try a small indoor portion of the coop (like, 4x8 or smaller), although I will repeat that I do *not* recommend it, you will want to make sure you can put the wintertime ventilation at one end (the usually-downwind end) and the roost at the far end, so as to enable you to have enough ventilation open for good air quality without excessive cold drafts at the chickens. Do not be thinking you can shut the coop up tight "to hold in heat", that will just give you humid air which *promotes* frostbite (they get frostbite at much milder temps in humid air than in dry air, and chickens produce a *lot* of humidity)

    But a good-sized walk-in coop would really be a LOT better. Much easier for you to manage, too!

    Good luck, have fun,

  4. latebloomer

    latebloomer Songster

    Feb 10, 2011
    green mountain state
    thank you for the good advice.

    as they say, back to the ol' drawing board.
  5. latebloomer

    latebloomer Songster

    Feb 10, 2011
    green mountain state
    Quote:yeah, that would be easier, but...

    i was trying to use three sheets of 4x8 material to make the bottom, that's why i had the 2x4 nailer where i've shown it.

    people are always saying basing your design on standard sizes of building materials will reduce costs.

  6. latebloomer

    latebloomer Songster

    Feb 10, 2011
    green mountain state
    okay, for my next design i'll be giving my girls more inside room than this design, and i'll be using salvaged solid core doors. stay tuned.
  7. Truevalentine

    Truevalentine In the Brooder

    Dec 21, 2010
    As a rather short person (though with little chicken experience) it occurred to me that you may not have given yourself enough access to reach everything. I have a small a frame coop (in California), the bottom does NOT continue in the a shape and with the roosts in there I can not reach all the way to the other side of the coop. I have access doors on both sides of my coop to allow for egg collection and cleaning. Just a thought as you are redrawing.
  8. latebloomer

    latebloomer Songster

    Feb 10, 2011
    green mountain state
    another good comment, thank you.
  9. goldtopper

    goldtopper Songster

    Oct 15, 2010
    Near Bert Blyleven
    I built mine like that using a 12' 6x6 as a header. It was formerly a heavy duty swingset that I recycled. It used 4x4's for the legs- there's 3 sets. The coop is located between an end and the middle set of legs. I made it 2.5' off the ground, so there's plenty of room inside. It stands about 8' tall. I did flashing on the header and used hardware cloth on the topsfor the vents on either end, as well as additional vents on the front and back of the coop. I fenced in the whole other open end, put in a door and bracing. It's not going to be blown over by any wind here, and I'm in MN.
    I built the nest box across the back with 3 boxes, and a pop door that slides up with a cord from the outside.
    Your design will work, you just need extend the header and to lower the floor a bit to increase your square footage.

  10. CityChook

    CityChook Songster

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    I'm going to echo Pat's suggestions.

    For what it's worth, I'm in Minnesota and will tell you that my chickens haven't been outside since late October this year. That's 5 months now. They have 12 sq/ft per chicken inside and I can't imagine giving them less. I haven't had any social problems even tho they are "cooped up."

    While an A-frame interior makes good usage of the total footprint with the run underneath, I don't think it's going to be big enough. The design, however, is much more efficient at using the hen's body heat to contribute to overall coop heating.

    If you decide to go with a smaller coop, consider using some sort of clear plastic to enclose the wire run for the wintertime. Not entirely (as it needs ventilation just like the interior) but it will provide a snow/wind break and hopefully encourage your chickens to use their outdoor space a little more. I did not do that this year and my hens refuse to go outside. Since they didn't use their pop door, I have just been leaving it closed to retain heat.

    You might also want to consider some type of window to let in natural light. Winter can get very long and if they don't go outside much I can't think of anything more depressing than sitting inside in the dark...

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