Barn to coop conversion - looking for suggestions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by BlackEarth, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. BlackEarth

    BlackEarth New Egg

    Jan 29, 2013
    Hi everyone, I'm brand new to the forums here, and to raising chickens, and am looking for some feedback on converting a section of our barn to a coop and building an outdoor run. This is going to be kind of a long explanation, so bear with me.

    We've just moved to an existing farmstead in WI that came with an overabundance of outbuildings, so it seems easier to convert a section of one of them into a coop, rather than start from scratch. The two potential coop locations are a 12x14 building with a dirt floor and beaver-puke sides with no real framing; or sectioning off an end of one of the bigger buildings, which would mean concrete floor, taller ceilings, real wood framing, and electrical. I'm currently leaning towards the bigger building, because it seems like it will be easier to retrofit, and has more space around the outside that could be converting into a run. The smaller building is right between our future vegetable garden and the driveway. I am intending to free range, but we'll be at work most of the time, so they'll need a safe outdoor run as well.

    So, pics below:

    The building exterior:

    The building interior:

    My biggest problem right now, is trying to decide how big (well, actually how small) to go. I'm thinking maybe a flock of 25 layers, but with the possibility of raising roasters in future summers as well. The building is 24' wide, and as you see above, there is framing approximately every 8'. So do we go 8x24, 16x24, or go big with 24x24?

    I'm envisioning walling off the coop end, with plywood walls to 8' or so, and installing hardware cloth on framing to the roof line for ventilation. Or would that be too drafty? We also need to decide what to do with the sliding door at the end, either wall it off except for some windows and a door, or should we screen the whole thing? I just don't know how we could make it air tight during the winter if we do that.

    I'm envisioning the outdoor run going along the sliding door side, and probably wrapping around to the long side of the building for 20' or so.

    So anyway, dream away for me. What would you do in this situation?
  2. jrudolph305

    jrudolph305 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 1, 2009
    Meadows of Dan, Va
    It looks like the building is pretty secure. You may consider just building two walls--coming out from the end next to the sliding door--with chicken wire and chicken wire over the top. So the coop would be along the long wall and could be about 8' X as long as you want. Your hens would just be in there at night and to lay. Cut a door in the outside wall to the run that would be secure at night. You could then build a self standing nest box (with rear access) with the front going thru the chicken wire and attach the chicken wire with staples. Then you don't need to go in to get the eggs. Depending on how air tight the building is you may not need additional ventilation--plus you can always add ventilation later. Not sure if I explained it right but with all that room you can pretty much do anything you want. Sit down with paper and pencil and sketch out different plans. Have fun!
  3. ECBW

    ECBW Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2011
    My choice would be the 12x14 (smaller) building. It is big enough for 25 birds and more.

    If you put a coop in the big barn, the dust and oder will permeate the entire barn. I can picture the big barn as a man cave... pool table, a heavy bag, a restored model A...
  4. katoranger

    katoranger Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 7, 2012
    Altamont, KS
    I would use the smaller building too. You may need the big one for future additions or other projects. I am currently building my coop inside my shed. When its done I can slide it out the big door and into the yard. If it goes well I will build more. The interest from others is there that I may have to start producing coops.
  5. BlackEarth

    BlackEarth New Egg

    Jan 29, 2013
    I'm not against using the smaller building, the bigger one just seemed like it might be easier to convert and would provide more amenities. And when I said we have an overabundance of buildings, the pics above are of the second smallest of the buildings....

    I'm going to add some more photos below:

    An aerial view:

    The pics in the first post were of the barn at the top in the aerial, so the coop would be visible from the house if we do that. This is a pretty old aerial, the concrete between the top outbuilding and the little one was removed several years ago, and the previous tenants were using that whole area as a vegetable garden, which I had planned on continuing. It's hard to tell, but the entire site is on a fairly steep slope, low on the left and rising to the right.

    A pic of the inside of the smallest building:

    So there's no real framing to it, which I'm thinking would make it more difficult to add windows and vents or hang stuff off the walls. We'll also have to dig around the wall edges and predator-proof them somehow. And no water or electrical in this building. I'm assuming we might keep the rototiller, garden fencing and plastic, and garden implements in here otherwise.
  6. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2009
    South Central, PA
    I would us the bigger one and actually having it go the length of the building (not the entire length, just however big you want it), not the width. If you do it that way, that sliding door could be opened up in the spring and summer when you are home, and would provide a lot of fresh air circulating through, which would keep some of the dust down. It also allows you to drive a tractor with a cart attached straight in to clean it out, and then pull down to the garden's composting area.
  7. Mrs. Fluffy Puffy

    Mrs. Fluffy Puffy Fluffy Feather Farm

    Jan 26, 2010
    Texas, Panhandle
    I wish I had your barn....and you had a bigger one! [​IMG]

    ~ Aspen
  8. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 27, 2013
    Northern Wisconsin
    I would lean toward making a space in the bigger building simply because it is a sturdier building and a sound floor that nothing can dig through. It looks like you have more than enough building space so using some for a coop shouldn't hurt your other ventures. One thing to consider in these buildings which aren't insulated is they can get wicked hot inside in summer especially not having any shade around them. I renovated a garage for a guy a few years ago and he had me insulate the ceiling with 2" foam board, boy did it make a world of difference, you could walk in there on a hot summer day and it was like walking into a walk in cooler

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