Building my first coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Jeepman, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. Jeepman

    Jeepman Out Of The Brooder

    I live in the deep in the north woods of Wisconsin and my nearest year round neighbor is 1 1/2 miles away. I have every predator you can think of from bears to mountain lions to wolves and every other smaller predator in between. This is my second time with chickens and first time in the woods. I ordered 12 pullets. 6 of the Bantams and 6 of the browns from the nearest feed mill. They will ship 5/17 so I do have some time. Should only take me a weekend to build it with my previous construction background.
    I have a cement slab that I poured the same time I installed my outdoor wood boiler slab and sidewalk. It used to be part of my dog run for my Beagles but I have since moved their dog run to next to the house for use of a doggie door. The cement slab is 10' wide by 18' long. I plan on building my coop on the slab using standard post frame construction and actually bolting it to the slab with heavy duty cement anchors.The coop will be a minimum of 10'x 12'. It will have one steel entry door, 2 windows and a small chicken entry door. The attached run will be a 10x36 L shaped run. I'm using 6'x 12' kennel panels with chicken wire along the bottom 3' for the weasels and pine martins. I'm doing what I can for the bears as part of the run will be along the dog run. My Beagles should keep the larger predators away.
    I need some ideas as far as leaving a cement floor bare or do I want a light depth of litter? Do I need to electrify the top of the fence for racoons? Do I need to add a drain for hosing it out for the summer months? Should I actually put 4' of plywood along the exposed side of the fence? Do I need to clear snow in their run? I usually average about a 30" or more of snow on the ground from January till early March. Largest snowfall I remember was 27" in one storm.

    I plan on letting them try free range around late July and locking them in nightly to their run and coop when I go load my wood boiler.

  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Here's my take on some of your questions:
    Indoors I would definitely put down a few inches of bedding. It's warmer for your area, plus it's hard on the feet/legs jumping down off the roosts onto solid concrete day in and day out. Personally, I love dropping boards - they keep your bedding so much cleaner. But you could do deep litter method, and simply hose out once a year when you change bedding??? Personal choice. If you're sticking to 12 birds, then I don't think you'll need to resort to hosing it out, but if that's what you want, then by all means stick a drain in there...

    In snow like you guys get, your chickens will not go outside unless you shovel them paths or clearings - the snow will be taller than your birds and I doubt your birds have tunneling So it's good that you built their shelter large - allowed them plenty of indoor room, because they will probably be confined for deep snow durations...

    If you're planning on closing your pop door each night, then personally, I wouldn't worry about running elect. along the top of the fence. But if you're going to try leaving your pop door open, then yes. Especially in areas with lots of wildlife, shutting the pop door each evening is the safest way to go though. Look into an auto door if you like sounds like you're going to be investing a lot into this coop anyhow, so why not???
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012
  3. Jeepman

    Jeepman Out Of The Brooder

    Thank you for the response. Auto door? Sounds like I could make one using a linear actuator and some hi-fax! They expensive? If under $150 I'd probably by one.
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    I read your OP with interest because it sounds very similar to a project I am working on. We bought a new property that already has a concrete slab poured so it seems the obvious place to put my coop. My slab is about 2" larger all around than 10x14 and has a 4x4 extension on one corner. No idea what it was previously used for!

    I plan to build the coop 10x14 so it will be pretty close to the dimensions of the slab - just a few inches of concrete extending out from the coop all around. After much research, I have decided to use treated lumber for the base plates and anchor them with 5 1/2" zinc-coated wedge anchors (this after I learned that without the zinc coating they will rust in treated lumber). The zinc-coated were not available locally and I had to order them online. My slab is about 6" thick. The anchor will have to go through a 2x4 or 2x6, which takes up 1 1/2" inch of it. Add another 1/2" for the bolt, and that allows it to be 3-3 1/2" into the concrete. I live in tornado country so having it firmly anchored is important to me. (We just had one hit our city on Saturday night and cause widespread damage so the risk is real).

    My plan is for my coop to be 10x10 and the additional 10x4 space will be a storage area for bins of feed, bedding, medications, chick feeders/waterers, heat lamps not in use, etc. For this reason I will have a door in each end. That way I can either go into the coop or the storage area directly. The dividing wall between the two areas will be screen with another door so that I can go from one area to the other without having to go outside and walk around to the other door. This screened wall will actually be removable so that I can change the dimensions of the coop and storage areas as needed. I'm not sure how often I might want to do that but it isn't difficult to make it removable so that seemed like the way to go.

    I am still undecided on how the coop will be arranged. I may put in a pop door on two walls so that I have options. The nest boxes will have external access. As others have said, bedding is essential to avoid injuries jumping down from the roost directly on concrete. I would do a deep layer rather than a light layer if I were you - the more "cushion" they have when they jump down, the better. I favor pellet bedding myself (I use corn cob pellet bedding but others rave over pine pellet bedding). The DLM (deep litter method) works for me as I like to get the build-up of bedding/manure to add to my compost. I may try poop boards or poop hammocks though - haven't decided yet.

    Anyway, I'd love to see pics as you progress and will share the same if you're interested.
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    We built our auto door with a drapery motor and digital timer. Our pop door was already set up in a tract/pulley system with the cable outside so we didn't have to enter the coop/run to open/shut the door. So changing it over to the drapery motor was simple. Total cost with a nicer timer was probably $110...
  6. Jeepman

    Jeepman Out Of The Brooder

    I've been acquiring building materials lately and feel pretty blessed. My Dad gave me 4 brand new boxes of D4 vinyl siding. There is 2 square to a box. Even included 160 lineal feet of starter strip. Only thing I need to get is some j-channel and some outside corners. One thing I'm concerned about is my roof. To give you an idea 1 bundle of 3 tab shingles on the last project I worked on was 8.45 a bundle. Now it's well over $20 a bundle. I went into sticker shock. I did pick up two aluminum storm and screen windows for $6 at the habitat for humanity restore.

    My Fiancee found out I used to drive excavator and heavy equipment awhile ago. Our friend hurt him self and is not able to operate the front end loader or back hoe's for his landscaping business. So this weekend I'm running them for him Saturday and Sunday on some jobs so he can take some time off to heal once these jobs are done. For payment he is going to park one of the front end loaders with a back hoe at my house for a week to use free of charge. Needless to say I'm off that week so I just found out I'm buying a pool and a water garden along with grading out some land for an apple and cherry orchard. So working on the coop is on hold again. I sometimes wonder if it's cheaper for me to just stay at work. lol
  7. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Since you're delayed, keep your eye on the CL materials section for deals. We're starting a new coop in May, and because we've had time, I've gotten some great deals on double paned windows, insulated doors, etc. Maybe you'll find some shingles there. Have you considered metal roofing, or is that higher than a cat's butt up there????
  8. Zach123

    Zach123 Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 10, 2012
    Denver, Colorado
    My first suggestion to you would be this....MOVE! 27" in one storm, holy s#$% that just sounds unpleasant.

    If you plan on hoseing out, Id put a drain in there, unless you like squigeeing or the slab is sloped towards an exit, you dont really want standing water in there. Id put litter in there, I think its probably a little nicer for your chickens than a cold, hard cemet floor. You dont need an electric fence, if you lock up your chickens at night raccoons shouldnt be too much a bother to you. Im not sure what the 4' of plywood is for so I dunno on that one. With a coop that size for 12 hens, you shouldn't need to shovel it as they will be fine if they are inside if the snow is too deep for them.
  9. Jeepman

    Jeepman Out Of The Brooder

    The drain plan is not going in mainly due to my septic not having enough inlet ports.

    I just found out the lumber mill down the highway will load my trailer with planer shavings from cedar and pines for $10 a trailer load. My trailer is a 5x12 with 4' removable sides. I plan on doing 5-6" of litter. The people with live stock in the area love it.

    As far as metal roofing 1 square is $147. The asphalt shingle is $132. Been watching craigslist and up here near the UP they have a radio station that is like a classifieds ad show. You call in your stuff for sale or your needs or wants and it works awesome. Its called telephone time.

    I just made a barter tonight off that radio show for one face cord of firewood I'm getting 112 2x4 and 2x6 boards in various lengths. The shortest being 6'-6"
  10. Jeepman

    Jeepman Out Of The Brooder

    As far as moving probably not. My avatar pic is my Jeep plowing during that storm. Believe it or not I have a lift kit on it and my tires are 32" in diameter. lol

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