converting a horse stall - should it work?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Silvester, Oct 10, 2012.

  1. Silvester

    Silvester Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 10, 2012
    Milton, PA
    I'm buying a house that has a barn with two attached horse stalls and some fenced in area outside presumably for a horse to hang out; this area is sectioned off into two areas.

    I'm thinking I will use one horse stall for a chicken coop for 4 hens (no rooster) and the other for a duck coop for 4 ducks (no drake). I don't have the exact measurements right now, but assuming a generic horse stall as the size, should this be enough room? I'm pretty confident the outside area will be more than enough for 8 birds...

    My mental concept is to walled off an area immediately inside the stall door that will give me access to the back of nesting boxes, a trap door for cleaning out straw/shaving ground cover and a door for going inside the coop proper for clean out. I think I'll need to insulate the stall walls and cut a portal to the outside yard/run, but that shouldn't be difficult.

    I see that ducks need a bit more consideration for their coop area, but I'm very concerned that the basic area will be enough for the quantity of birds I'll have...

    Has anyone done something similar?
    Or can anyone send some advice my way?

    Silvester
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Will work fine. Biggest concern I have deals with rodents that will have lots of places to make burrows. Also make so raccoon tight. Horse stall for me are a little bit of a challenge when it comes to making raccoon tight.
     
  3. Silvester

    Silvester Out Of The Brooder

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    I won't know exactly what I'm dealing with until I get in there, but I figure I'm going to have to line the walls with chicken wire as part of the insulation process...

    I know coons are pretty smart and a slide bolt lock is probably not enough to keep them out...

    What are some suggestions for proofing the coop against racoons?
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Chicken wire by itself will not be effective again raccoons. If it is overlayed with 2" x 4" welded wire fencing then it will keep raccoons out. If you do not have a dog running about, then think ahead and have a live-trap of some sort setting out at all times to catch tresspassing raccoons. Usually they will visit multiple times before trying to test your containment.

    Also encourage birds to roost up (will not work for ducks) so predator would be required to jump 6' or more, although > 4' will usually do.


    Could a fox just walk into coop during day while birds are out free-ranging?
     
  5. ailurophile23

    ailurophile23 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm a fan of horse stalls as chicken coops mainly because that is what I have access to. Having said that, rodents can be a real problem - they burrow in/climb in to get the food. So you either need to put the food into a metal trash can at night or hope your chickens become rodent hunters or come up with another preventative method. The idea of lining the walls with wire mesh (hardware cloth) at least at the bottom and into the floor should help with that. It should also help prevent other predators from finding ways in. Basically, if a gap between boards is of any size, I would either make sure the hardware cloth covers the gap and/or put a batten board over the opening. My current coop is 12x12' - previous stalls were about 10x10' but either size should be plenty for the birds you mentioned. Also, I am not sure I would insulate the walls - depends on where you live and how cold it gets, but sometimes, having the small gaps helps with ventillation, especially at the top of the walls. In my current coop, we did not insulate but did cover the inside walls with painted plywood for ease of cleaning. But on the outside wall, we left a gap at the top that was about 1x8' which we covered with hardware cloth. It is well above the roosts and definitely helps with air flow and keeping things dry. We have two human doors into the coop, on opposite sides of the coop - one leads to outside and one leads to the inner barn. Both doors are hardware cloth over a wooden frame - great for ventillation during the warm months and the outer door can be partially or completely covered with clear plastic in the winter if it gets too cold. The doors are latched with sliding bolts - one at the bottom and one about midway up. However, given that we have nosy horses and two dogs who love the barn, we have not yet experienced many predators.
     
  6. Silvester

    Silvester Out Of The Brooder

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    I don't even trust metal trash cans to be rodent proof... I used to work in a beer warehouse and we would have whole pallets of 6-pack tip and collapse because a field mouse had chewed open a bottom corner can - thinner aluminum, but very small mice (less than 2 inch bodies).

    I'm guessing coons and possum will be common where I'm going, but I don't know about anything else...
    I have seen grey and red foxes where I am now and it's mostly residential, where I'm going is mostly agricultural.

    I'm pretty sure I can store the feed a good 10 to 20 feet away from the coop, but I guess the better rodent proofed the feed storage is, the more likely they will eat from the feeders.


    Silvester
     
  7. ailurophile23

    ailurophile23 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A field mouse chewing through a beer can?! [​IMG] Who would have thought mice liked beer?! LOL

    It is definitely a good idea to have the feed in a heavy-duty metal (or other material) can but I was actually referring to placing the feeders in something overnight - leaving open, food-filled feeders in the coop overnight is just an invitation for the mice and rats to move in and significantly raise your feed bill.

    As for predators, it sounds like you could have lots of different ones - definitely put some effort into securing the coop area so they (and you) can sleep through the night.
     
  8. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

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    I would not ever put feed in a rubbermaid or similar trash cans, mice chewed thru it like butter. Metal never gave me any problems, never any holes!

    Poor mice got drunk on beer! [​IMG]
     
  9. Silvester

    Silvester Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm in the new house and getting settled pretty good...

    We're thru the first winter, a lite one in my opinion...

    I got 6 hens (5 different breeds) and 4 ducks (all the same) from Tractor Supply two weeks back and 2 more ducks (a different breed, but the same) last weekend.
    At this point the first set of ducks are in the metal tub from TSC and the hens and new ducks are in a small prefab coop - all in the dining room for now.

    I started converting the horse stall tonight by pulling the boards off two of the three walls; I was going to leave that third wall alone, but I'm leaning toward pulling those too. My plan is to line the whole 8'x14' stall with 1/2" plywood and let them all live together (unless some of the ducks turn out to be males). The horse pen outside will get a pond in the near future and needs some work done to help contain the birds.

    Here's the stall:

    [​IMG]

    The vertical beam in the foreground is part of a dividing wall between two stalls and will be the foundation of one wall of my coop - probably the wall that will sport the nesting boxes. To the right is a half height wall that will get mesh above and to the left is a window that will get mesh.

    I now know I have at least 2 domestic cats that patrol my yard and less than a 1/4 mile down the road is a heavily wooded lot that I have seen oposum road kill near...

    I'm guessing my birds are 3 weeks old now, the ducks are HUGE (5 or more times the original size) and starting to get feathers and the chickens are all still smallish (only 2 times original size) but have most of their feathers begun...

    I'm going to have to move them to the garage at the very least before next weekend.
     
  10. Silvester

    Silvester Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 10, 2012
    Milton, PA
    Last weekend I started sheeting the walls with 1/2" plywood and finished that today.
    I have the one window screened over with 2x4 wire mesh and I've put the same mesh around the two half walls that are not exterior walls.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    I'm thinking about putting my nesting boxes on this wall, so I can access them from the remaining horse stall (which will not be used).

    [​IMG]

    I'm not sure where/how high to put roosting bars. I'm thinking along this wall about half way up(ish).

    I need to level out the floor a bit and do the same in the other horse stall. I think I need to pour some sac-crete under the center wall because it doesn't have a foundation under it, just fine gravel/course sand. I'd like to try the deep litter method for waste management, but I'm not sure how cost effective that would be in a 8'x14' space. I know buying $5 bales of pine shavings at Tractor Supply isn't going to work as a long term solution...


    I'd like it if anyone can give me some guidance on quantity, sizes and placement of nesting boxes for 6 chickens and 5 ducks; we lost a duck earlier this week, I think she caught a chill and the local vet hospital's "exotic" animal specialist was on vacation and the vet on duty had no experience with poultry - next time one of the girls get sick I'll be making the 30+ minute drive to the Animal and Avian hospital in the next town over.
     

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