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Anyone else built a hay/straw bale coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Godiva, Jan 14, 2008.

  1. Godiva

    Godiva Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 17, 2007
    Colorado
    We are in the process of builing a straw/hay bale chicken coop. We were given a lot of hay bales and we figured that it would be better insulation against the heat of summer than anything else.

    Here are a few pics of the beginning stages. We are using cedar logs that we have cut down, as the posts.

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    Last edited: Jan 14, 2008
  2. tiffanyh

    tiffanyh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2007
    Connecticut
    Thats huge..I was piucture a small little dwelling! What is the game plan with the hay?


    Someone on here did do one a while back and had pics posted of it.....Ill see if I can find it....
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
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    looks good so far! Can you really substitute hay for straw in straw bale construction?? I thought it had to be straw. Also I thought it has to be up on a cinderblock-type foundation or some such, to prevent any possibiliyt of bale walls contacting the ground...? I dunno.

    Have thought of doing something like that here, but don't want to bypass zoning laws, would need expensive permits for anything over 100 sq feet, and the walls end up so thick I'd hace too little indoor room with a 10x10 exterior, sigh!

    Good luck to you!!


    Pat
     
  4. Godiva

    Godiva Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes it is big! We are going to put the bales about a foot inside of the edge of the roof for better protection from the rain. We are not going to put them on anything like cinder blocks though it will result in the lower ones decomposing quicker we can't afford to do the foundation right now! That is the beauty of using bales! We can pull the walls down at a later date, use them on the homestead, and put a more permanent wall up ie. one with a foundation and maybe siding along the lower third of the bales. And yes you can use hay bales. They don't have as high an insulation factor and people usually feed their animals the hay and rather use the straw for building since it has no food value. But, since we don't have any livestock to eat it and it was free we are going to use that instead. We are going to dig a french drain along the top of the slope and a drainage ditch since we are on a slope (there is no flat surface on our property) and we usually get a lot of rain. We are going to have to dig out the 'floor' a bit to get it more level and then we will do a deep litter system on the bare dirt. Our dirt is so incredibly hard that I don't think anything will be digging under fencing etc.

    We are going to stack the bales on their sides so as to make the walls a little thinner and just a touch more water proof. I think that if we like it we'll redo it a few years from now when the bales start disintegrating and maybe stucco the walls. Only the roof is going to be permanent - everything else is up for grabs. We had such a hellishly hot summer here last year that we knew we had to do something to keep the chickens a bit cooler. I REALLY don't want to have to mist them every half hour in the heat of the day again! We had over a month of temps over 100 degrees and it was MISERABLE!
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Ah <lightbulb over head> not strawbale construction as such, with the bales stuccoed and all, just stacking them for walls. Gotcha!

    Your point about putting the bales sideways is a good idea, but have you considered putting the bottommost layer the other way. Hay stood on its cut surfaces on the ground is notorious for wicking moisture into the center of the bale, whereas bales placed with the 'long strand sides' against the ground will last a little longer. From experience with horse hay however I have to doubt the walls will last more than a year or two, max, and then only if there is some extra structure tying the walls so they don't collapse on chickens as they weather and sag. Big bales (like 4x4x6) would last much longer but need a tractor to move, and leave little room for chickens.

    Also, as soon as the lower bales start to rot you may also get problems with mold (bad for lungs) and/or chickens picking the bales to pieces. I wonder whether you could cobble together *some* sort of foundation out of rocks, gravel, wood, etc, and bunge tarps over the outsides of the walls?

    Not meaning to be a party pooper, and wishing you good luck,

    Pat, having dealt with a lot of hat bales fed or stored or left on the ground over the years...
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2008
  6. Godiva

    Godiva Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 17, 2007
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    Good thought about putting the bottom row of bales on their big surface. We may try to dig a shallow trench and put some gravel in there to keep the bale off the ground. We are going to tie the bales together with wood stakes driven through them into the next layer. We are not anticipating the walls lasting for very long this time around - but who knows - we'll see won't we. We may also 'side' the bottom section with some roofing panels. There is going to be a pretty good overhang which should protect the bales from much moisture. If they remain dry they should last pretty well. Main thing is to prevent them from getting wet.... hence the possibility of doing a base of some gravel.... Just depends on a lot of things right now. Will let you know as we progress some of the details
     
  7. tink

    tink Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 12, 2007
    upstate SC
    I have an idea...for a temporary flooring...why dont you go around some local business and collect discarded pallets? They will be free to you and you can use them for firewood when you are done. They will keep everything up off the ground. Businesses often just trash them......We have used them recently for our firewood to keep it up off the ground. Good luck
    Tink
     
  8. BirdBrain

    BirdBrain Prefers Frozen Tail Feathers

    May 7, 2007
    Alaska
    Godiva,
    Why don't you lay down a layer of thick plastic to help perserve those lower bales? I can't wait to see your pictures.
     
  9. Godiva

    Godiva Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Some good ideas folks! Will have to look into the pallet thing ... aren't they slats though? We would still have lay some flooring on top of that wouldn't we? I like the idea of the plastic for the lower bales. I wonder if we could partially wrap the lowest row of bales in heavy duty plastic. Guess I'll have to price some of the options... Hopefully we can get this done in the next few weeks. DH has the roofing panels so that is the next step. We may get some friends to come around and do a coop raising sometime in the next few weeks.
     
  10. picklespickles

    picklespickles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2007
    (i thought "strawbale construction" at first too.) it looks neat. good luck.
     

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