Current coop and future plans **Pic Heavy** Advice welcomed!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by fifenashia, Jun 5, 2011.

  1. fifenashia

    fifenashia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2011
    Eastern Kentucky
    We built our own coop last spring and I can be honest, it's AWFUL! Well it's not awful, it has kept my girls alive through summer and winter. But I look on this site, and my coop is not what I had seen in my head [​IMG] BUT, considering I have NO, None, zilch, zero experience with building, I guess I can be proud that it has managed as well as it has.

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    We usually let them free range all day long, just open the screen door in the morning and at night go down and lock it up. Unfortunately, some dogs got under my fence and killed 2 of my hens about a month ago. This has led to an increase in discussions in our house revolving around chicken coops, runs, free ranging and overall safety.

    The coop itself is basic, wood box with ventilation at the top, made from OSB board, with sand on the floor and hay on top of that, with 2 roost bars. The girls typically lay eggs in one of the corners, they make their own "nests". No windows, no nest boxes and no outside access. When I say BASIC, I mean it. [​IMG] During the winter, I was concerned about insulation and warmth since there isn't electric down there. So we stapled cardboard boxes and industrial sheets of plastic to the inside of the coop. It worked REALLY well actually! And we caulked all the corners so there wasn't any drafts as far as I know.

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    The run itself isn't bad, besides the fact that we used chicken wire and now I keep reading about how unsafe chicken wire is! But I was able to hang the feeder from the ramp and we have gone through like 3 different waterers before deciding on just a basin style, and then we add a large plastic jug that has holes drilled into the bottom and fill it with ice. It keeps the water cold as the ice slowly melts but doesn't allow it to spill over. I just took an old cat litter pan and and turned it upside down to set the waterer higher so as to prevent as much debris from getting into it. So far that has worked really well! Ducks are MESSY! [​IMG] We started putting up more OSB boards on the bottom since the duck was not liking the coop (let's be honest, I wouldn't want to sleep with 3 large hens roosting above me either! [​IMG]), We have 2 sides up so far which worked out okay. I wish we had done them on the other side though as it seems that's where the wind comes from. We did wrap the whole thing (except for one panel of the chicken wire "wall" with that heavy duty sheeting to keep snow and winds from freezing their tail feathers off!

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    The roof has a basic frame (it ended up being just slightly short) with a corrugated roof panel screwed to the frame. The panel was short too so we thought "cool, a skylight!" but when it rains, it FLOODS the run and they all end up standing in water up to their vents! So we screwed down a plastic tarp to the whole thing. This has resulted in water poolng on that side of the roof since there is nothing there to hold it up and it's not slanted enough to drain. So after a good rain we have to hoist the one side up and drain the water off the back.
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    The run started with grass, but they have it pretty tamped down now. I had been using pine shavings, but after a very wet winter and lots of flooding issues, it was like a slip and slide down there! So I started using hay which was VERY successful in keeping them up off the swampy bottom. Things have dried out this spring, and as the heat increases I am coming across a whole new set of problems. The first being... I don't want to free range!!!! These are my girls, my pets and I can't bear to lose another one. The problem is that in the mid-late afternoon, the sun beats down and cooks them in the run [​IMG]

    So a temporary solution has been found, I have taken my garden fencing down from my garden beds (they weren't doing well anyway) and sectioned off a small corner of the back yard right next to the coop, this area has a lot of trees along the back side and so it's shady, and we dug a hole and put in a kiddie pool for the duck to splash around in. And then the dirt that came from that hole has turned into the "dust bathing" area. I try to let them out every evening when I get home from work, but I hate that they sit in that run panting and trying to stay cool when it would be easier over in the pseudo-run. BUT, I'm afraid to let them over there unsupervised during the day. They don't have access to the enclosed run and coop, and if a predator was to get into my yard, they are sitting.... ducks. [​IMG] Plus it's only plastic fence, so a large lab would just barrel through it.

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    I have them out there today, and I'm watching them from my living room window as I type this. I am terrified something bad is about to happen. I swear I have PTSD from this experience!! During the day to keep them cool, we add frozen jugs of water to the run for them to sit close to, ice to their water and yesterday we took a simple small fan down. We attached it to the inside corner so there would be a cross breeze and then attached it with 2 bungee cords criss-crossed. This at least makes it cooler for them until I get home and can let them out for supervised free range time.

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    THE FUTURE
    So this is the plan, what we hope to accomplish by the end of the summer.
    I know I can't build a coop that I would feel secure with. Some people are naturally gifted with skills, and I am not one of them. So we have decided to go ahead and pay for one, I feel like I will be paying partially for piece of mind which honestly... is priceless. Then we are planning on buying posts and actually fencing off the back section of the yard, with the same livestock fencing that the whole yard is fenced with, complete with gate for entry. Then we are going to run electric fencing, 2 strands on the bottom, and a strand of barbed wire on the top. This way I can go down in the morning and open the pop door on the coop and they have their own "mini yard" to run in all day complete with shade, pool, and foraging area. Plus it will be more secure with electric and barbed wire strands. It's cheaper to do that to a smaller area than the whole acre backyard.

    This is the style of coop we are buying in July from the Amish community down the road form us. They will actually come onto the property and build it on site for us since we don't have a fence gate large enough for them to bring a fully constructed one and set it up back there. They are supposed to be able to be moved as well though so when we move, it will DEFINITELY come with us! The plan is to put it up where the current coop is already constructed and then build the run around it.
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    This is the current pseudo-run as seen from the gate to the yard, as you can see there is a LOT of land that I can go ahead and fence in for them so they are technically "free ranging" but in a safer way.
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    And a closer look, we were in the process of cleaning stuff up and so the pool is not in its usual spot and my duckling is enjoying it at the moment but you can see the gist of it.

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    Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think, if you have any suggestions that I could implement or just want to compare your own ideas and designs. Be nice though, my ego is fragile [​IMG]
     
  2. griffinheather

    griffinheather Out Of The Brooder

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    May 14, 2011
    Alexandria, LA
    Hey, gotta start somewhere! My roo and hen are living in a dog house at the moment....[​IMG]
     
  3. bryan99705

    bryan99705 Chillin' With My Peeps

    A lot of people have started with less. You might try catching some basic construction classes offered on Saturdays at Lowes or Home Depot. It will give you the basics and if you show them your plans, you can get a lot of free assistance.

    Keep an eye on the straw you using, it tends to trap and hold moisture and become very smelly. If you compost, you might want to put sides in it and locate it near the coop to throw in the straw along with the clippings and the birds will love scratching thru it and picking out the bugs. The sides just keep them from spreading it all over the yard.

    That new coop is sweet!, does the back have ventilation? Might see about having them add it, maybe a wired opening with a flap door that can be propped or braced open can be designed infor more air.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2011
  4. Leia's Chickens

    Leia's Chickens A Sunkissed Delight

    Jun 20, 2010
    Oklahoma!
  5. CindyG

    CindyG Chillin' With My Peeps

    I call my set up "The Crooked Coop" and I earned that name with every off center stud and wonky corner. But the girls don't care. Keep them dry and fed and they're happy. Nice yard for them to free range in.
     
  6. annie3001

    annie3001 My Girls

    Jun 11, 2009
    Ct.
    you have plans to buy the new coop.... thats what needs to happen for the chickens sake and your piece of mind. [​IMG]


    why not just buy now?
     
  7. allieloveschickens

    allieloveschickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 20, 2010
    San Diego
    I think the coop you are planning to buy looks great! Your chickens will be very happy [​IMG]
     
  8. pinkwindsong

    pinkwindsong Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 18, 2011
    Laurens SC
    I commend you for the coop you have.. it met their needs.. they may have grown out of it and you might have grown out of it.. but I think your ideas are great. and I wish I could afford a coop like the one their gonna build for you.. but I just cant afford it.. right now mine are in a dog kennel run thats 4x12 but their safe and thats what i need till I can get them further along... shoot they dont know that their not living in Trump Tower.. hhahha... their just little heathen chickens hahahha..

    blessed be )O(
    Pink
     
  9. fifenashia

    fifenashia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2011
    Eastern Kentucky
    Thanks for the tips!

    Bryan, we do compost and I throw a lot of my "leftovers" over the back fence into a wooded area, the plant growth back there has EXPLODED since I started doing that! You are right about it being stinky! With as hot as it has been I have actually removed a lot of the straw and just left enough for the duck to make a safe nest with under the coop and then some additional handfuls thrown here and there. The new coop does have ventilation in the back, it is a flap door that can be hinged open for air flow (great with those 2 windows in front) and a perfect seam when closed. I m very Excited about getting it built!
    Here is another example picture with a view of the inside. You can order them as different dimensions. The one we are getting should hold about 12 hens comfortably [​IMG]
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    Leia, I LOVE your coop! It looks so spacious and you definitely put a lot of thought into it. Thank you for sharing. We have Golden comets and and a Rhode Island Red too! GREAT LAYERS!

    Cindy, thanks and I agree! The girls have been happy and dry for the past year, it really is not a bad first coop. I guess since I have been hit with tragedy already I am a little more paranoid about how safe they are out there. And I thought our yard was perfect for free ranging, but we have a LOT of roaming dogs and so I need to electrify the fence to keep them from digging and add barbed wire on top. Trouble with that is that it's EXPENSIVE to do for as much fence line as we have. After the attack we walked the line very methodically and found 3 total weak spots. I think if we secure those and then do the smaller fence within thats electrified, it will give me piece of mind. And they can always have the whole yard when the family is out there.

    Annie, [​IMG] That's what I asked my husband!!! We have a place called "Tru built barns" and they finance, and it's really affordable. We are waiting until bonus checks come in so we can put down with at least half the cost. Should help reduce the finance and interest charges and still be affordable.

    Alli, THANK YOU! [​IMG] I was a little nervous since it seems like everyone I talk to builds there own coops. Feels like a cop-out to buy. [​IMG] BUT, I would rather be a cop-out than come out and find dead chickens because raccoons reached through the wire or something breached the gaps!

    Pink, thank you so much for the kind words. I guess we really have grown out of it. So far I have gotten away with avoiding that chicken math but only because I KNOW I don't have room for more than 3 hens and a duck or two. I actually looked at dog runs when we started, I thought about building a simple box coop and putting it in the run, then I saw the playhouse coop design and that's what I attempted instead. I didn't think we could afford it either, we were out there one day just browsing because I am desperate for a shed, and I saw an assembled coop on the property and I fell in love with it! It had all the things I wanted for my coop but didn't know how to add! When we talked to the guy inside, found out we could finance with 2 months payment as a down payment. And a month's payment is approximately 70bucks. Totally worth cutting down some of our television channels and phone extras to put that money in for the girls.
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    Thanks everyone for the kind words of encouragement!
     
  10. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

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    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    I'm getting ready to build a 2nd large two room coop. you've given me some ideas.
     

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