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  1. swissian

    swissian New Egg

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    Feb 24, 2013
    Hello,

    I am currently working on converting an old horse stall into a chicken coop and was looking for advice on how to best make this predator proof. We do have foxes and raccoon around (We even found a chewed up deer femur in the stall!)

    The plan is to lay a plywood sub-floor on top of the landscape timbers that would stretch from wall to wall and prevent digging from below. Should we also lay some larger gravel?

    I cannot figure out how to block access from the gap between the stone wall and the supporting roof timbers. I am thinking around erecting a plywood wall that attaches to to sub-floor and the side supports to close the gap. This wall would run up to the rafters.

    What is the best method for securing hardware cloth around the rafters? Will i have to be making lots of cuts or is there a better technique?

    Any advice would be great! I prefer to not lose the chickens to predators!

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  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    That's a lot of ventilation to cover up with hardware cloth. For the open eaves over stone wall maybe you could build little frames. As there is nothing to secure to the stone it will need a block of wood to attach the wire to. You could cut wood to length then use a piece of wood each side to wedge it tight to stone. That would be using three sides of a frame or you can build a four sided frame to attach wire to then secure in each opening. I like short screws and washers for hardware cloth and wire fencing attachment.

    Some of your openings, along side of slant and over door I'd cover with wood. For the outside wall to stone gap I'd have to be there to see what could be cobbed up. Probably rolled wire held by friction. Roll some hardware cloth and pin it, crush it, to stone wall with a board. That board held by nails or screws to your existing frame.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    To cover that vertical gap between the stone and support timber I like the idea of using coiled wire. Attach hardware cloth to a 2x4 with maybe 6” to 8” sticking out (not exactly sure how big that gap is, may need more), roll that as tightly as you can and cram that into the gap, screwing the 2x4 to the timber, pushing the 2x4 over as far as you can. That’s basically Egghead’s idea, I think, just not totally relying on friction.

    I’d say most people use screws and washers to attach hardware cloth to wood, but I prefer furring strips. Take a piece of wood maybe ¾” thick, drill pilot holes for the screws, and cover the edges of the hardware cloth with that. Make sure the screws go through holes in the hardware cloth and clamp it down tight. You drill the pilot holes to keep the wood from splitting. I’ve been known to use fender washers on those screws to clamp it down even tighter if you are using a soft wood. This not only holds it so it doesn’t go anywhere but it covers the sharp edges of that wire so you don’t snag your skin or clothing. That may not be very important up at the top where you don’t go often but lower down it might. Even with precautions like this it takes a lot of band aids to do what I do.

    I haven’t found anything better than to cut the hardware cloth to fit, often lots of fiddling and cutting. Wear good leather gloves when cutting.

    As Egghead said, it really helps to be there. Photos help a lot but it’s not the same. I like the idea of ventilation at the top of the stone wall. Maybe attach a 2x4 to the bottom of the rafters as tight to the stone as you can get it either the inside the coop or outside to give you something you can attach the hardware cloth to on the bottom. Can you attach to the roof or will that cause leaks? It will take some fiddling with the hardware cloth and furring strips or washers and screws to cover those gaps.

    Another possible way to cover the gaps at the top of the wall is the frame idea. Put a 2x4 under the rafters tight to the stone wall to give you something to attach to. Then come back from the stone wall maybe a foot or two and put short pieces of timber between the rafters. Attach your hardware cloth to the bottom of the rafters and the other 2x4’s. I’d do that to the outside so birds did not build a nest in there.

    I like what you are working with. You have some challenges but I think it will make a very nice coop. Good luck and welcome to the forum. Glad you became active.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  4. swissian

    swissian New Egg

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    Feb 24, 2013
    Egghead

    Thanks for responding! You guys gave some great advice. Someday I hope to be able to have a poured concrete floor in this coop!

    I have already buried some hardware cloth over a foot deep all around the 4 sides of the coop and attached it to the walls. I will be adding a plywood subfloor to hold the cloth tightly against the walls. The cloth will additionally be held to the walls using 2x4s to ensure that there are no sharp edges to hurt a chicken.

    I have started to run wire up the sides along the stone wall and will be holding it to the stone wall using 1x1 pieces of wood that will hold the cloth tightly to the wall and then be screwed in. For the rafters, I am planning on building frames for between each one that have hardware cloth.

    It has been difficult building this coop with the hot weather! The previous owners of the house put a pile of firewood in front of the completely open stall door. I had to move 2 pallets of wood out of the stall to be able to get to the door and close it. Then I had to move all of the wood back in!

    The stall has a section right outside of it that has 3 tall stone walls that I will be using for the run. Additionally, behind the stone wall in the coops, there is a 10'x20' section that has 16" thick concrete walls 2 feet high (ex manure pit?) that can be used for future run expansions. I am only using half of the stall (it was already split into two spaces with a lower door to seperate the sections) and can expand into the second section should I expand.
     

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