Building a Woods Coop for DLM in the Shenandoah Valley

I am just getting started building my first coop, in the northern Shenandoah Valley (Clarke County.) I will probably make lots of mistakes, but if more experienced folks want to help me spot mistakes before I make them, that would be fabulous.

The plan is for an 8x12 coop using the Woods design, following several of the plans posted in here. I do want to get my entire plan into Sketchup, along with a bill of lading, so future builders can accurately estimate costs and materials. I'm keeping track of materials and supplies, and I'll try to report on costs and results.

The coop design is standard to several of the Woods designs in here. If I deviate from the standard designs, I'll discuss that at length. I plan to take lots of pictures.

The basic plan is to make it very solid, so it's still functional and beautiful 20 years from now. The floor is 3/4" plywood under DLM (deep litter method), with six nest boxes reachable from outside the coop. It's going to sit on skids, but I don't ever plan to move it.

The overall plan is to use electric fence to surround about 3/4 acre, enclosing beehive, fruit trees, rabbitry, vegetable garden, chicken coop, duck house & pool, and compost pile. The pollinator meadow is next to it, and I want to grow as much "chicken salad" in the fenced-in area as possible. The vegetable garden is surrounded by cheap poultry netting until time to let them glean. I'll also use poultry netting to fence out chicken gardens in rotation.

We are building a sustainable permaculture homestead, using all native species and heritage breeds, and we want a healthy, happy environment for all the things growing there. (As I write this, we are just going to war against Tree of Heaven and Osage Orange.) Our intention for the coop is to fit into that environment.

Feed plans include fermentation and fodder for both poultry and rabbits, mealworms, and chicken-assisted composting.

Feedback is welcome; BYC is truly an amazing resource!
 
I'm still on the fence about how much overhang to build in. I've seen arguments for little to none, but I think I do want about six inches of overhang all around, just to keep the rain off when it's coming straight down.

If others have built Woods designs, I'd love to hear how much overhang you have, and how it has worked for you.
 
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Have you considered a mobile chicken tractor?
That puts me in the mind of something I'd be moving regularly. Is that what you mean? With DLM and a pasture, there doesn't seem to be an advantage to moving the coop. Or am I missing something? I might be.

The design I'm using is technically mobile, since I'm building it on 4x6x12 skids. I'm going to angle the ends of the skids so it can be moved without digging in. But it is so heavy that moving it is unlikely to be practical. The only reason I can think of why I'd do it is either erosion degrading the existing spot, or it turning out to be unsuitable in another way. (I have some fairly tall cedars south of the location, which may result in too little winter sun, for example, but the winters here tend not to be harsh. If I'm wrong, I'll have to move it.)

I'm using three skids, and 2x6 floor joists, and 3/4" plywood for the base, to give you an idea of the weight.

Love your handle, btw.
 

Alaskan

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A bunch of people on here have used... uh.... black Jack? to paint the plywood floor. It should completely seal the plywood so you will have zero rot issues even when using DLM.

How cold does it get where you are?

I LOVE huge eves, but I don't have a Woods. I would think a deep eve on the front might reduce the solar gain... but, I can't think of any reason to not have deep eves on the other 3 sides.

Exterior nestboxes are nice if they are protected by a deep eve.
 
A bunch of people on here have used... uh.... black Jack? to paint the plywood floor. It should completely seal the plywood so you will have zero rot issues even when using DLM.
Good idea. I'm using PT plywood, mainly because I'll put litter over it immediately, and it will quickly be buried. But a layer of paint would certainly help. I need to wait until the PT dries out, but I'm building it now and will not put birds in it until Spring, so I should have time.

How cold does it get where you are?
Not that cold, compared to Alaska. Most years, we'll get some temps in the teens, Fahrenheit. Some years it won't ever get below the low twenties. It will very rarely get into single digits. Then again, temperatures have varied a lot more in recent years, so you never know.

I'm thinking that the biggest cold issue is going to be keeping water from freezing. The birds should be fine with whatever we have here.

I LOVE huge eves, but I don't have a Woods. I would think a deep eve on the front might reduce the solar gain... but, I can't think of any reason to not have deep eves on the other 3 sides.
I'd like to hear from some others in middle latitude states. I can see how long eves would be a big advantage in Alaska, but we have many winters without any snow, or no more than a few inches. Then again, we do have the odd blizzard, but typical winters tend to be less than twelve inches for the entire winter. I think big eaves are more for rain than snow. But I'm guessing, here.

Exterior nestboxes are nice if they are protected by a deep eve.
I guess you'd get frozen eggs--or would they even be laying in cold weather?
 

Alaskan

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I guess you'd get frozen eggs--or would they even be laying in cold weather?
Depends on breed and age... and how cold it gets...

I don't have any exterior nest boxes... I wanted to put some in, but couldn't figure out how to insulate them etc. with my poor carpentry skills...so I passed.

One lady up here though uses roll out nest boxes, some are exterior mounted and she has all of the eggs roll up against a bit of pipe insulation with a heat tape inside... so her eggs never freeze... genius.

We eat frozen cracked eggs... we just wash them while they are still frozen...

I think big eaves are more for rain than snow. But I'm guessing, here.
The big eves are great for rain, and blowing snow, but also to reduce erosion around the building, keep the walls dry and reduce rot etc. as well as increase the life of the paint.
 

Alaskan

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I'm thinking that the biggest cold issue is going to be keeping water from freezing. The birds should be fine with whatever we have here.
If your temps are that mild.... use a black rubber pan, and put it in the run on the sheltered side of a fogged window/clear tarp/bit of clear fiberglass panel... the solar gain will keep it thawed.
 

aart

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I'm still on the fence about how much overhang to build in. I've seen arguments for little to none, but I think I do want about six inches of overhang all around, just to keep the rain off when it's coming straight down.
Go at least 12".
Clerestory building but NOT a Woods coop...but overhangs!
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