Coop construction of natural building materials?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by simonne325, May 31, 2007.

  1. simonne325

    simonne325 Hatching

    May 31, 2007
    Gallatin, TN
    I was wondering if anyone had ever used a natural building method for making a coop, something more or less like cob or adobe? I want to start raising 5 chickens, a banty, and a rooster, plus 2 guineas and really can't afford to build a shed like building. Building their hose this way all I have to purchase is straw and the posts for framing the house and their run and netting, much better on the wallet. I figure a 5' by 3' is a good enough space since they'll have roosts going up 6' I've heard that cob is effeciant at absorbing heat and insulating, plus the floor will be concrete to keep critters out. Also, exactly how do you put on a tin roof? Thanks, Simonne
  2. MTchick

    MTchick Songster

    Feb 2, 2007
    Western Montana
    I think a trip to the library is the best call for you. A book on building hay-bale homes is going to have a million brilliant ideas for you on roofs and other things. I've never built with those materials, but I have to say that I never do anything without a good book to guide me. Why reinvent the wheel? Build it quicker, cheaper, easier, and right on the first try by reading a little about it first! Especially when the library is free, and you can get used books on Amazon for less than a dollar sometimes.

  3. allen wranch

    allen wranch Crowing

    Jan 11, 2007
    San Marcos, TX
    One of the things you will read is the importance of ventilation in your coop. With a straw bale or cob house, you will have to figure out a way to incorporate ventilation and still make it predator proof.

    A 3x5 coop seems too small. The birds will generate a lot of body heat. Although that is good for winter, even in a straw bail house, it will be hot in the summer.

    A concrete floor is hard on a birds feet, so a good thick layer of sand or pine shavings will be needed on the floor for when they jump off the roost. The birds also need room to get up and down off the roost, and a 6' tall roost in a narrow space, doesn't give them much room. Even in a larger space, the birds don't really need a high roost.

    If you want to go economically, consider a coop made from recycled materials. There are several examples on this website of coops made very inexpensively from pallets and things acquired from Freecycle and dumpster diving.
  4. One big downside of strawbale and cordwood (you didn't mention that technique, but I will) is that the walls are thick, so the structure ends up being either much bigger than you would expect, to make the inside what it needs to be, or much smaller on the inside because you kept the footprint reasonable.

    As for cob, depends on how you're going to make it if you have to worry about wall thickness, but like Alan said, you need to allow for ventilation.

    A good way to ventilate in hot climates is to have plants on the north side of the building (for evaporative cooling effect) and have a ground-level vent door open to that area. Then, have an opening at the top of the coop (this works great with shed roofs which rise to the south) on the south side, so the air convects up out.

    I am not sure that in a small structure like a coop that you will get enough thermal mass cooled during the night to keep the temps down during the day, even if you did have a concrete floor. If you were trying for a lot of thermal mass, you should of course insulate the outside wall, and then bring TM to the inside. One good method of adding thermal mass without a lot of thickness is using 3 layers of drywall. That only works where it's going to stay dry, though.

    One other natural material construction method (not too natural, but relatively easy to accomplish, and very sturdy) is ferrocement. I've built water containment tanks out of this method; no reason it couldn't be used for chicken containment!
  5. simonne325

    simonne325 Hatching

    May 31, 2007
    Gallatin, TN
    I've already planned on how to do the ventalation. One high up window of sorts with the chicken wire put straight into the wall, and two other small windows. I just frame them as I build up the cob walls. I may be expanding the dimensions to a 5x5. The thickest part of the wall will be 16" and it will get thinner down to 9" as it grows upward to 6'. I have thought about using pallets to create a wood floor.

    Predator proofing is my main concern as we have coyotes, coons, skunks, possums, and every other critter you can think of. I've been trying to come up witha way to keep coons from opening the windows since they've opened ours in the main house before.

    What is ferrocement?
  6. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    We have 1/2" hardware cloth covering our window openings and vents.
  7. siouxbee

    siouxbee Songster

    May 8, 2007
    there's a book out there called "chicken Tractors" that I found through my library system. My library didn't have it, but they were able to get it for me from another lib in the state. Anyway, he's got a great description of a straw bale house for chickens, as well as lots of other types of housing. You might want to see if you can get some more ideas from it. I didn't read the section on straw bale housing because it's not something I was planning to do, but I do remember skimming it and seeing him address things like predators, ventilation, etc.

    And yeah, chicken wire is good for keeping chickens in, but not keeping hungry predators out, so you'd want to use something stronger like hardware cloth, or an old salvaged window (try freecycle for cheap salvage materials, or do a google search for the same) to shut up tight at night. For 5 hens, you should be able to build something small enough that you could probably scrounge most of the materials for free from building sites or freecycle.

    Also, check out the City Chicken -- (google it, I'm not sure if the address). She's got tons of pics of chicken housing that can move around the yard. Might find some ideas there.

    Good luck

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