Is part of a 160-year old barn in PA acceptable for a coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by drdvmd, Oct 2, 2013.

  1. drdvmd

    drdvmd Just Hatched

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    Hi! Just starting on my chicken adventure! I'm living in suburban Philadelphia. We recently purchased a farmhouse with a freestanding barn, built in 1844. Part of the barn (where the carriages were housed) was converted years ago into a screened in porch. It's my hope to use this area for our chicken coop.

    The screen porch has three solid stone walls and a cedar shingle roof. The fourth wall is composed of screens, and a screen door (this wall is west facing.) The floor is cement. (See exterior and interior photos below.)

    Our plan is to cut a hole in the solid wood at the bottom of the screened area, to create a chicken door. We will also remove the brush outside the screen porch and create a fully fenced outdoor run.

    Questions: 1.) Will the screens be adequate as-is to keep out predators? For the outdoor run, I understand I should use hardware cloth, buried to a depth of 12" and bird netting over the top. The outdoor run will be approximately the entire size of the screened wall in the porch, so the predators would have to get through the outdoor run to get to the screens, if that makes sense. We will leave the screen door as is so I can get in and out of the coop easily.

    2.) In southeastern PA, do I need to cover the screens with plastic or wood to ensure for adequate warmth in the winter months, or are the three solid barn walls adequate?

    3.) With very heavy rains, a corner of this porch can get damp. My husband and I are working on trying to remedy this problem this fall, but would a small amount of dampness on a rare occasion be a real problem for the chickens?

    Thanks for all help/insight as I embark on this adventure! This site is such a great resource.

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  2. IttyBiddyRedHen

    IttyBiddyRedHen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome to BYC!! and wow...your chickens will be so lucky to have such lovely accomadations! (sp) my chickens have a tin shed corner. I will be keeping up with this thread and see what you do with the carriage house. [​IMG]
     
  3. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: NO, screen will not be adequate. Cover it with at least 2 X 4 welded wire, which you can also use for most of the run.
    There's no real point in burying the hardware cloth, since simply laying it on the surface accomplishes the same thing with a LOT less effort.
    Just cover it with a thin layer of soil and let grass grow through it to hold it in place

    Never assume your run will keep them out of the coop, since so many animals are good climbers, and your bird nettiing isn't going to stop a
    Coon, Fox or Possum

    If the room is deep enough that the three walls block drafts, you won't need to cover the screen in Winter, but you may still want to make some plastic covered frames you can put up just in case it's windy AND cold
     
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  4. drdvmd

    drdvmd Just Hatched

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    Bear Foot- Thanks for the prompt reply. So I can use hardware cloth for the walls and "floor" of the outside run? Do you run it as one continuous sheet? I can't envision how this would work. What would you recommend over the top of the outdoor run instead of bird netting?

    I think the three walls block drafts, since the screened porch comes out at a 90 degree angle from the rest of the barn, so it is quite sheltered. But I can't be certain so I think having some plastic covers as a back-up is a good idea. Any specifics for how to make plastic covered frames? What type of plastic is needed?
     
  5. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    Personally, I like to use 2" X 4" X 6 Ft wire for runs, and just use hardware cloth a couple of feet up around the bottom walls.
    As for your "apron" , a 12-24" strip, attached to the bottom of the run fencing with "J Clips" or Hog Rings, will keep out diggers.
    If you use a board at the bottom you can just staple it to that, and most any size wire will work, since most of the problem diggers are larger predators
    Overlap at the corners, and run strips under doors, and you shouldn't have problems

    This is a rough idea of how it works
    :
    [​IMG]

    There really aren't many good options for covering tops of runs, but most of the time it won't matter anyway
    None of my runs are covered, and I seldom have problems with anything climbing in
     
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  6. LittleMissPurdy

    LittleMissPurdy Chillin' With My Peeps

    You have a great resource there!!..More pics may help with ideas.... .as far as the run-cover..have you checked out the section on "coops" at the top of page?
    There are many ideas to look/choose from. Some cover their runs the same way they would a "wall" to the run. Two pieces of wood with the chicken wire/fencing sandwiched in between, attached to the walls and support with a cross-beam.
    There are tons of pics for you to get the visual. Right now my little run is only covered with netting, but that is all that is needed for the time being, but it is needed..we have many hawks in the area and the girls like to "hop" out from time to time[​IMG]..even with wings clipped...so it does help to keep unwanted out and them in.
    As far as the dampness issue goes...the dryer the better! If you can get the issue resolved that would be the most ideal...wet areas can bring on their own host of problems you do not want to have...health/insects/smell-stink...What material are you thinkning of useing in the coop area?
    We use sand-(cement slab under it ). It is very easy for keeping clean. Only have to use a small rake and "pooper-scooper"...and if it does get a little wet with rain blowing, it doesn't take long to dry out. It is also cool for the birds in the summer. It works for us, but there are many options out there to investgate.
    Drafts can be lessened with tarps(cloth or plastic)..there are many different "grades to chose from. The thicker the plastic the better if you are going that way/or need to. I have read of some people useing shower curtain clips to help hold their plastic on and shower curtain poles. I am not sure what your set-up will be with this issue, if you would even need it.
    Good luck...[​IMG] Hope this helps a little.-Danielle
     
  7. drdvmd

    drdvmd Just Hatched

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    Thanks, Danielle. We do have a resident hawk, so I was concerned about having some sort of netting over the outdoor run. So you use sand inside your coop? Our barn/future coop is quite big so we would need a ton of sand...I'm not sure that would be feasible. I was thinking about pine shavings or straw but I'm really clueless.
     
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  8. LittleMissPurdy

    LittleMissPurdy Chillin' With My Peeps

    I understand about the sand..I only have a small area, will have a much larger area for the run at some point. I am using regular "play" sand..it is not the original sand I was going to use. There is a type you can get from a quarry..it has small rocks and tid-bits in it (makes great grit) and if you would need alot it is as I am to understand...cheap..or cheaper than "play" sand from say, Lowes or Home Depot.
    There are so many methods to use, have you looked in the "learning center" at the top of the page? if you click on it and then from there, there are other options to go to.."housing chickens".."feeding"..etc..
    There is a slew of information..enough to keep you up all night and not even realize it..I know!! I took a year to learn and TRY to get as much info on things as possible., before birds.
    ..The netting is a very good idea if you have hawks around. It won't do much for other predators, but then if/when you are building your run..you can address them/that issue at that time, with the materials more suited for those critters. We have raccoon, skunk, possum, coyote and bear-(nothing short of fortknox will stop them),...we have had visitors, but so far so good with the set-up we have. Hopefully it will do well until we have the opportunity to enlarge our chicken home...again, good luck and the best advise I can give, for I am new to this too, is read,read, read..and ask alot of questions[​IMG]..-Danielle
     
  9. yogifink

    yogifink Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If I am understaning this right, you want to use that entire screened area as the coop, and then will attach a run to the side of the barn the entire length of that exterior wall?

    If your run is covered and preditor proof, so that there is no was a preditor can sneek through between the run and the building or climb up and over top, I don't think you would need to add additional material to the screens. If you don't cover the run, and concentrate more on preditor proofing the barn than you would have to add welded wire like Bear Foot said and of course add a door (from the picture it doesn't look like there is one there.

    Also in concern with preditor proofing, make sure that critters cant get to your girls from the inside of the barn either. Old barns are natorious for having lots of holes. I would build a welded wire wall ontop of that white wall on the inside of the barn if I were you. Not to metion, for some flighter chooks, it would be a good place to roost and they would probably end up on the wrong side more than once in the morning!

    I prefer to use the deep litter method as opposed to sand as I have a large coop and a very large run. A lot cheeper for use to forage for leaves and pine straw that it is to set up and replace sand. Not to mention the awesome amount of compost we get from it once a year. - Thats a big area you've got to cover with sand...

    To repeat what littlemispurdy said, moisture is impostant to control and should be a main focus of your attention. Wet feet equal frostbitten toes!

    As for covering the screens in the winter there are a few posts of folks using clean heavy duty shower curtains on runs to prevent drafts that look really sharp and funtion well. I would be concered however with a geenhouse effect on the coop, so ventilation would be important.
     
  10. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: I'd use Pine shavings, and since you have a barn, you probably have a place large enough to dump a truckload, which is normally a lot cheaper than buying it bagged
     

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