Coop construction using existing shed - help!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by WinterLadyAK, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. WinterLadyAK

    WinterLadyAK Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Greetings! I'm new to the forum [​IMG] and looking for coop-building advice!
    The plan is to convert an old shed to the new coop. Problems arising with this idea are that I got about 3x the number of birds I originally wanted (but couldn't be happier about it), and the shed is not in particularly good shape. I was hesitant to even post photos, as this is sort of the "junk zone" right now... but I think these will be helpful.

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    My husband is fairly handy, but neither of us have built any sort of structure before, just the odd bookcase and nightstand type stuff. We're wanting to learn though, but plan to take it slow and try to do it as simply as possible.

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    So the reason for wanting to use the shed is mainly that it's something to start with and build off of, and because it's in the ideal location for our chicken coop. We have 2 acres, but only this small portion here that is fenced in (we plan on really reinforcing this fencing to protect from bears/dogs and building a large covered run to protect them from eagles/ravens and the like). The photo above shows the shed in relation to the house. I'm thinking we should remove all the icky old wood but leave all the 4x4s and 2x4s, extend the indoor space back (left), and build another identical metal roof and attach it next to (towards camera) the existing portion. If we do that, we'll really just copy the structure (support beams, roof, etc) that is already there, which I was thinking would make this intro to building easier on us. This would be quadrupling the size of the shed, and hopefully be big enough for my 15 hens.

    Oh, and because it's all about the chicks... here's the chicks at a few days old. They're now about a week old and growing fast, so I'm hoping to get started on the coop ASAP.

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    Thanks in advance for any advice or suggestions!
     
  2. BairleaFarm

    BairleaFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would start by framing in and enclosing the back part of the shed to make it bigger. It looks like there is enough over hang on the back part of the roof to almost double the size of the coop. Once thats done just add perches and a few nesting boxes. Once i got the shell of my original coop done I changed the interior several times before I found a setup that worked.
     
  3. WinterLadyAK

    WinterLadyAK Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the reply! Enclosing the back would almost double the size of the coop, bringing it up to about 64 square feet.... so for 15 birds that's a little over 4 square feet per chicken. I've read that it is the minimum you should have, but living in a cold climate maybe minimum is good? I guess part of your advice is do that first, and then go from there? I have seen that people make many modifications during building, so that is probably good advice. Thanks!
     
  4. BairleaFarm

    BairleaFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes get the outter walls done and see what your working with. Reguardless of how much room they have they will cuddle if need be. Remember just because your cold doesnt mean your birds are. They are a tad bit hardier than we are.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    In a cold climate, minimum space is not necessarily good. They wear a down coat year round once they are feathered out, so cold does not bother them nearly as much as heat. And you do need good ventilation to keep the moisture down in the coop. Your danger in cold weather is not them freezing to death as long as they are healthy and not in a direct draft when they are sleeping. Your danger is frostbite, especially to comb, wattles, and feet. High humidity in the coop can lead to frostbite. If you provide ventilation above where they are sleeping the moisture from their breath and poop can clear away without a breeze hitting them.

    If chickens are packed close together, they can become cannibalistic, feather-pickers, or have other behavioral problems. I don't like hard and fast numbers for how much space you need because there are a whole lot of different factors involved in how they act. Each chicken has its own personality, each flock has its own dynamics in how they react with each other, and we all house them and manage them differently. Your problem in Alaska is that they might not be able to go outside for long stretches of time, so extra spaced in the coop is nice. I also find the more space I give them, the less I have to work, especially with poop management. While 4 square feet per chicken in the coop will keep most of us out of trouble most of the time and is actually more than many of us need, in your specific case I'd give them more if I could. Most of us can give them outside time.

    Your basic plan sounds reasonable. You might want to pick up a book at your local library about shed building or maybe look at the shed-building books at Home Depot or Lowe's. A decent one can really help with the how-to's. The work is not really that difficult once you have an idea of how to do it.

    One issue you might have reworking that one is that the walls may get in your way. You'll probably need the interior wall framing for support so you can't just take them out and door swing takes up space where you can put things. I'd consider fixing that one up for your chicks, maybe even enclosing that back section is, but you may find it maybe less expensive and probably a lot less aggravating to just build a new coop from scratch instead of trying to keep scabbing on. You can always build it next to that one and provide a covered walkway connection so you get the benefit of the extra room. Your chicks won't need a whole lot of room until they grow up. If they have access to the outside, the coop doesn't have to be that big. I find it real handy to have an extra coop anyway so I can isolate some if I need to or I can use it as a grow-out coop.

    If you do decide to build new, I'll mention that most building materials come in 4' and 8' dimensions. You have to consider roof and overhang in that, but you can often build something based on those dimensions with less cutting and material waste and at no more expense that a smaller one.

    Good luck!
     
  6. WinterLadyAK

    WinterLadyAK Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, the advice was all good, thank you all! I now understand the challenges of building an edition to shed that is neither square nor level... but we've done our best. It probably would've been better to start from scratch, but we weren't using the shed anyways.

    I totally understand the planning while you go part of building this now. I find myself on these forums for hours and during building I'll keep running inside saying "oh, I need to check how high off the floor the chicken door should be". So glad these forums are here! Anyways, here is our progress so far.

    We found lots of great windows on Craigslist. A total of 7 windows, $70 total. Probably could have found them for even less if I had more time, but I bought them all in about 8 days. I'm hoping the casement windows so close to the floor are going to be okay, they are double pained and we'll insulate the walls around them.
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    The ceiling was a bit of a challenge, it was uneven in every way it could be uneven. We've started putting plywood over it, but it may not be as tight fitting as we would've liked as the bar running horizontally across the ceiling beams is not even remotely square, and it would've been difficult for us to remove it. Does anyone think this could be a problem? We are cutting out lots of ventilation so I'm hoping not having a completely tight/sealed ceiling will be okay. We also decided to use the rigid foam stuff for the ceiling, even though we're using fiberglass for the walls.
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    Also finished one of my exterior nest boxes, hope to maybe cover it in roofing paper, then put metal on the roof and siding on the sides and the door that will latch securely and drop down for easy cleaning and egg-gathering.

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    Learning a lot and having fun, chicks are getting huge!
     
  7. WinterLadyAK

    WinterLadyAK Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Coop construction is done!
    Food and waterers (PVC for feed and nipple waterer) not finished yet.
    [​IMG]

    They didn't know quite what to make of it at first.

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  8. toofarout

    toofarout Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nice! Love the windows too!
     
  9. Kikiriki

    Kikiriki Chillin' With My Peeps

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    OMG! It looks like a sauna at a resort!

    What did you put on the poop board? Since it is so close to the house are you running electricity? It would help to deice water, provide longer daytime light in winter, and light for you when you go in to care for them. Plus, you might want to consider something like a bathroom vent fan since you dont have high vents...you can run when you are in there and clear the air. You will be surprised how very fast odor builds up and if you smell ammonia it need to be cleared out or it can damage their lungs. I assume you get snow, so may not be able to open windows?

    Really very lovely...I have serious coop envy!


    Edit for one last thought: you may want to provide another access ladder or two to the roost. My three girls stand in line waiting for each other to settle on the roost then have spats over position!
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
  10. WinterLadyAK

    WinterLadyAK Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 14, 2012
    Palmer, Alaska
    Thanks!
    The poop board has vinyl that was left over from the floor. Then it has old cookie sheets filled with sand.
    We do hope to run electricity, but since we won't really need it until winter, trying to get the run started and finished first.

    We do actually have high vents, none of these photos show them though. There is a large slot above the door, and a vent running all the way across the front, then two on either side at the top. I should post photos of these, because I think/hope they're enough (after reading all the ventilation posts) but shoudl be sure.

    I think you're right about access to the roosts! Actually no one has been up there yet, it's still a bit chilly at nights (upper 40s to 50s) so they're sleeping in a pine shavings box I bring in for them.
     

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