Converting a granary into a coop design input?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by aealbin, Feb 22, 2017.

  1. aealbin

    aealbin Just Hatched

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    Howdy all!

    I'm brand new to BYC and so far I love what I have been reading and have learned so much in just a few days. My husband, 2 girls (4 & 1) and I moved onto his grandparents' farm place this last summer. We hoped to be able to start chickens this spring but adjusting to our new life (new house, new community, new job, longer commutes, etc) we just didn't get as much done last fall as we hoped. My FIL has maintained this as a rental property since his parents moved into town 10 years ago and his level of maintaining is a much lower standard than ours and all 7 outbuildings are in some state of disrepair (4 are pretty bad however not bad enough to just rip down and start over, seems to be the story of our life at this farm but I digress). After 8 months of thinking, discussing and planning our initial coop/chicken plans have changed. Previous renters had used a little shed as a coop and had added a poorly built run. We ripped the run down in the fall with the intent to rebuild and remodel the shed as a coop. But my FIL mentioned that when the renters put the run where they did, it became more difficult to maneuver the semis around the yard plus the facts that we have an old granary that we have no idea what to do with and that the little shed, if moved, would be an ideal garden shed... we decided to turn the granary into a coop. However upon closer inspection, the granary was added to the list of buildings that is in major disrepair. So scrapping the idea of chickens this spring and we are giving ourselves a year to work on properly fixing it up. That's the first big thing I have gleaned from this site: Have the coop completely ready before the chickens - not the chickens ready before the coop! We have learned that everything takes us longer now, so to help with stress and balancing the umpteen other projects a year seems doable.

    So I thought I might put some pictures of what we have to work with out there for you much more experienced chickeners? (haha - What do you call yourselves?) to give input on. We think the inside will be relatively easy to convert, it's the outside that is the issue.
    So here are the specs with pictures as-well-as our first draft of the coop design:

    West Central Minnesota - Zone 4B - wide open spaces, few trees to block the winds - had 60+mph gusts right around Christmas where we lost a few shingles and a neighbor's hoop house was flattened. We have a grove to the north and west, but the southern winds can hit us pretty hard. We will start with around 6 layers and once we figure out what we are doing we will add more and broilers. I'd like to keep them separated, so a smaller run will be inside the main run. We are thinking this because we want them to all have decent access to the south side, but we can't extend too far because of semis needing the space for maneuvering in that area. Too many predators to allow free range.

    [​IMG]
    small shed will be moved elsewhere, granary is on the right

    [​IMG]
    Coop draft 1- not to scale

    The granary is elevated about 3 feet off the ground and is split into 5 rooms, 4 are equal at about 10'x9'. The 5th is just the isle partitioned off, this wall will be coming down. We do know that there is an opossum living under the granary. We also have rats on the farm and had read that opossums can help with rat control, so he's fat and happily has a place to stay until he gives us reason otherwise.

    The outside: the exposed ends of the rafters are rotting, the roof should be tinned, needs to be painted ideally tinned, add windows, replace broken barn windows, clean up all the scrap and junk around the building.

    We will initially only convert 2 rooms for layers and broilers. The other two rooms will have other uses found for them in the future with the possibilities being an infirmary/quarantine and maybe someday turkeys.

    We have electricity but may need to rewire to allow for a 220v. Closest water is about 175' away.

    Methods we are thinking of:
    -Roosts with poop boards
    -gravity feeders, with isle access
    -gravity pvc with chicken nipple waterers with the buckets located in the isle. We do not have water near the granary so we will be hauling buckets.
    -probably will do DLM.

    [​IMG]
    The back will is just the isle partitioned off, we will rip that wall down for access to the isle walls of the individual coops.

    [​IMG]
    The doorways will be widened and doors added.


    [​IMG] as
    The height is approx. 10'-12' to the base of the roof. Those rafters are not structural but were for support when it was filled with grain and will either be removed or lifted as my 6' tall husband feels claustrophobic with the rafters at about 6.5'. This is one of our questions, put in a ceiling or leave it open?

    [​IMG]
    The rooms are basically to the studs and are aprox 10'x9' to the studs, maybe add another 6" if you go to the exterior wall

    [​IMG]
    The walls do not go to the peak, just to the roof base.

    [​IMG]
    This is the west side where the majority of the run will be. it will be cleaned up and can't decide if the far small tree will be in the run or outside and how to protect from predators.


    Do you see any potential that I don't? Something that screams "dear god don't do it!"?

    I don't know what we will do about venting, I see there is the opening on the roof for the auger so I don't know if I could convert that somehow or if it is enough. Advice is welcome!

    Emily
     
  2. Alabama Jack

    Alabama Jack Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I see lots of potential. I would definitely consider running water to it. You'll most likely need to close off the ceiling, but could be done in hardware cloth, to keep ventilation. I'm also converting an old structure, and will definitely follow along on your build.
     
  3. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Out of all the old buildings on the place, what happened to the original chicken house? Still around or long gone? Not the converted shed......the original chicken house.

    I understand your desire and reasoning to make use of what you have, but MN winters make it a pretty extreme place to be raising chickens. You can do it, but things have to be setup right. You might be miles ahead to salvage lumber off one of the other old sheds no longer in use and build a dedicated house that does not have all the problems I'm seeing with this old grain storage barn.

    What problems? Light, ventilation, rats and mice, multiple entry points for predators, etc.

    If possible, I'd be curious to see a screen shot capture off Google maps or something of the entire building layout of the farmstead, including designations of what areas are available to you that are out of the way of farm equipment, trucks, etc. Show which way is north and if there is any slope (not dead flat), where is high ground. And does the place have a wind break?
     
  4. WesleyBeal

    WesleyBeal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I second what @Howard E said about how useful a screen shot from google maps would be.

    Since you are already giving yourself the extra time, I also agree that salvaging materials and using them to build a coop would save you lots of headaches in the future.

    Coops often look like little more than wooden boxes, but there's a lot of nuance to the designs that solve many problems.

    The ability to capture as much solar energy as you can, and maintain a high amount of ventilation, while offering protection from the wind, will be important to your success.

    I'm in Douglas County, Minnesota, probably a bit to the East of you so I miss out on the extra high winds.

    I use deep litter also. With the recent heat wave we've had, I discovered that my ventilation wasn't as good this winter as I thought it was. A whole lot of the moisture from the poops was frozen, and as it thawed the amount of ammonia in the coop skyrocketed.

    I guess when it's 25 below 0, it's rather hard to get things to dry before they freeze.

    I was able to open things up and dry it out, in part because my coop is longer east to west, and the whole south wall of my coop is covered with windows that can be opened up. I wouldn't have been successful at that with a square shaped coop with limited openings to let the air in.

    Given our winters here, go extra large on the square-feet to bird. Yours may well be "cooped" up for much of the winter, so the interior space is what they'll have.

    Anyway, once you know what you want to be able to do (how many chickens next year, and 3+ years from now), there are a lot of old designs of chicken coops that were done 50 to 100 years ago that will fit your needs.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC!!

    Good start, just the thinking things thru first and bringing lots of info with your first post..... Kudos to you!

    "Have the coop completely ready before the chickens - not the chickens ready before the coop!"
    A most important lesson!
    I like 'chickeneers'.

    Lots of potential, if the structure is truly sound, being able to predator proof a building like that is a huge consideration.

    Your first sketch is a good start, be open to other iterations as you go along.
    Those 4 rooms with the aisle are an excellent layout...and could be further refined down the road.
    Covering the 'ceilings' with wire for predator protection and still allowing ventilation could work well....
    .....and/or solid ceilings in parts for storage above is another thought.

    Biggest possible con I see at first glace is...what's under that floor??
    It doesn't look like 3 feet...but regardless, might be a perfect habitat for rodents which could be a huge problem.
    Water gathering under there during heavy rainfall/snow melt would be a problem too.
    Looking at the whole surrounding area for how water runoff might affect the building and runs is important.

    Extending roof overhang when you re-roof could be a big benefit for open eave ventilation.

    Not sure why you need 220V?
    110V would be fine for heating waterers in winter and some lighting.
    Running running water would be highly advantageous, especially in winter when hauling water is harder.
    Tho my 20 birds only use about 1-2 gallons, so not hard to haul.

    Just my thoughts for now,
    Best of cLuck!
     
  6. aealbin

    aealbin Just Hatched

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    Aug 27, 2016
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    Thank you for all the replies!

    I would post an aerial photo but it wouldn't do much good as you can't even see the granary due to the trees. Also, the aerial photos are out of date as we have removed a lot of trees from the entire building site so it is dramatically different. There are a few trees left on the NW corner of the granary (you can see them in some of the pictures) that should provide a little shade for the northern portion of the run but otherwise it has unobstructed sun exposure. We have a grove that wraps around the north and west side of the property but it was thinned dramatically when we were clearing trees. We are planning to plant Dogwoods and spruce trees to build the wind break back up. Right now it is mainly large Hackberry trees with sparse underbrush (Buckthorn).The entire farm site is quite flat but the granary does sit on a slight hill and is about the highest point on the farm so I am not too concerned about flooding. The west side of the granary has a very nice slope away from the building so it should make a great run.

    Years ago there was a small barn that likely housed the chickens but it was torn down 5+ years ago due to disrepair. There is an old hog shed that could lend itself to being converted into a coop but it is in worse shape than the granary and although it has better light and ventilation I'm guessing it still isn't enough. We strongly considered the idea of the hog shed and we could certainly make it work but someday we would like to use it for, you guessed it, hogs! and maybe a cow....or two.

    The granary sits on a couple layers of concrete blocks with a 1.5-2 foot tall "crawl space" underneath. There are 2 spots on the north and 2 spots on the south were blocks were left out to keep the crawl space open. The reason for this was to leave it open so that it is not a closed in haven for mice/rats. It allows cats easy access which keeps the mice out. This worked great when it was a granary but I'm not sure about chickens. We would for sure need to block off the south side were the run will be so the chickens can't get under there but maybe leave the north side open so cats can still control rodents???

    The comment about 220v was a miscommunication and is not needed, 110 will be fine.

    I'm not sure how to address tearing down the granary and using that lumber to build a new coop. I know the granary isn't the ideal set up but it is large, well-constructed, and in decent shape (on the inside, outside needs a facelift) seems like it would be a shame to knock it down. We are planning on adding a lot more windows to increase light and ventilation.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Access for cats, but not chickens, could do the trick...and would be better than trying to close it off totally
     
  8. WesleyBeal

    WesleyBeal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It was an idea, seeing as how you were giving yourself plenty of time.

    I'm no expert, especially compared to some others on this thread, but I think people have raised chickens quite successfully going about it the way you intend, and I'm sure you will too.

    There are definite advantages to going with a structure purposefully designed for raising chickens, versus modifying an existing one like you plan to do. There probably wouldn't be much too much of a difference in costs either, even if you didn't salvage the lumber from the old granary. So I think it's worth considering.

    That said, you'll be fine following your current plans, I'm sure!
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Agrees, if the foundation and structural framing is all in good shape,
    it would be silly(and a darn shame) to tear it all down.
    Tho you may be able to reuse some of the boards that you need or choose to replace/remove.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  10. aealbin

    aealbin Just Hatched

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    Aug 27, 2016
    West central Minnesota
    [​IMG]

    Is $45 a good price for used 36x38 windows each?
     

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