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Learn from My Mistakes...Soon to be Corrected! Pens/Sunlight, etc.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by speckledhen, Dec 25, 2008.

  1. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member 11 Years

    I live on a small mountain, therefore, very little level land. My original 8x8 coop was built on a southfacing slope with land sloping from my house down toward the coop and on down a hill to a gravel road (if you can call it that) that is part of my property line. The attached original 11x20 pen is on the front of the coop, uphill from the coop itself. Later, we added 12' to the coop, a pen extension, so that it was basically two coops with a door between and each with it's own pen, as you'll see in the pics I posted below. We are quite wooded with lots of oak, maple, hickory and sourwood trees.
    Here are the problems:
    Birds scratch at the top of the pen, which is filled with leaves all fall and most of winter. They literally move the dirt down the hill to the face of the coop and basically "bury the building", though it is about a foot off the ground at the front. I am forever raking mountains of leaves, wet (heavy) much of the time. We placed a log across the pen a few feet from the coop, so it sort of terraced it, but they're great little earthmovers and that didn't fix the problem.
    Second issue is the sunlight. The sun rarely hits the pens close to the coop due to the coop itself blocking the sun and throwing the pen into shadow, making it retain moisture in rainy weather.

    The former storage shed, now the Blue Orp and Delaware breeding coop, has attached pens behind the building. They are in sunlight most of the day, so they dry out much better.

    We just today decided that we will move the pens from the front of the main coop to the backside of it, which slopes down to our perimeter livestock fencing (set about 15 ft inside the property line) to the road. Below that road is my neighbor. The livestock fencing will have to be higher at the back, but it will actually make a much larger pen, sloping away from the coop, and allow the birds to get underneath the coop, out of the rain or safe from hawks. There is already a cleanout door on the back that will be the new pop door when we build a ramp. That pop door, seen propped open in the 4th pic down and next to the exterior nestboxes, is away from prevailing winds and under a bigger overhang than the front pop doors. Then the vacated chicken pen will be seeded with grass since the new pen will be larger and I can probably keep them in it for long enough for the grass to grow some.

    So you see what I mean, here are some pictures:

    The original coop and pen:

    The coop with 12' addition and second attached pen (used chainlink we had so it doesn't match well, but is strong)


    Entire setup with three coops; the Firetower Coop (currently vacant), the main coop 8x20 and the shed turned into breeding coop:

    This will be the new chicken yard:
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2008
  2. Sherielu

    Sherielu Chirping

    Jun 5, 2008
    Yellville, AR
    Thanks for the insight, I am just in the planning stages for my chicken area. I too have a sloped area to deal with!
  3. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member 11 Years

    Here is the back of the breeding coop-you can see that it is very sunny. When the other pens are moved, they should be the same way. There are several good sized oak trees that will remain in that pen, so when the leaves come back, it will still have shade. Not sure what I'll do about the mason's line and the CD's I have now for a hawk deterrent because the new pen will be 50' across rather than 22' across. Will have to think on that, but they will have access to the entire 20' length of the underside of the coop, too.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2008
  4. halo

    halo Got The Blues

    Nov 22, 2007
    My Coop
    Boy you arent kidding you live on a mountain. Gorgeous area, tho. Those are some happy chickies having all those leaves to play in.
  5. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    There are things I would have done different too on my first coop and run. The new ones I've built the last couple of years I've been pretty happy with so far.
  6. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member 11 Years

    The leaves are great, but not when masses of heavy wet ones pile against the coop from my dedicated little earthmovers. I was afraid that they would eventually rot the wood/trim on the coop front and I wanted to move the pens all along. Today, DH said we should do it-had the idea all by himself. Seems we'll have these birds for the long haul, so might as well get it set up right for the long term.
  7. Omran

    Omran Songster

    Jul 26, 2008
    Bagdad KY
    Speckeldhen, First of all I wish you had a wonderful christmas day.
    Second Your coops look very beautiful.
    and third your Idea makes a lot of sence to me, I think it will work perfect.

    Good luck.[​IMG]

    Don,t forget to show us finished project.[​IMG]

  8. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member 11 Years

    Thank you, Omran! Hope you had a great day, too. I will certainly take pics of the new area. I guess we'll have to build another gate (seems we're always building gates!) to allow the tiller and big wheelbarrow to inside the pen.
  9. buck-wild-chick

    buck-wild-chick Songster

    Jul 24, 2008
    Hamilton C. FL
    Looks good Cynthia !
  10. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member 11 Years

    Thank you, Tayler. [​IMG]

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