Making a Cob Chicken Coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Gnarled Carrots, Feb 17, 2016.

  1. Gnarled Carrots

    Gnarled Carrots Out Of The Brooder

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    I live on a farm in the country. We have an abundance of dirt. So much in fact that we've contemplated building a house out of cob. It's a natural building material made from dirt, sand, and straw. It's one of the world's most common building materials and has been widely used in England for centuries (think traditional English cottage, more along the lines of an adobe structure, but more weatherproof). They're resistant to rain and, unlike wood structures, regulate their own heat, making them ideally suited for both very hot and cold climates. Living in Wisconsin, both heat during the summer and snow during the winter are factors.

    As a starter cob structure, we're thinking about building a cob chicken coop. We're planning on getting 4-6 chickens in the spring and I'm in the preliminary design stage for the coop. I'd like some input on the structure/maintenance and would love to see what other people have done! I can find a lot of great information on building cob houses, cob ovens, even cob bathtubs. However, I've found virtually nothing on making cob chicken coops!

    I've tried searching the forums here, but haven't found much. A lot of people that I've come across have worried about how to clean a coop that's predominately made out of dirt. However, cob is water resistant. It can get wet. One of the main differences between cob and adobe structures is that cob structures are more weatherproof and can be made even in places with heavy wind and rainfall. It can even be stuccoed and painted or coated in a lime-sand plaster for greater durability.

    There's also a common misconception that they're cold and damp. However, cob structures regulate their own temperature. They trap less condensation than wood structures and don't have the same issues with mold, mildew, rotting, or pests that can sometimes be a problem.

    The biggest issue that I can think of would be that the walls are very thick (typically 2 feet). However, smaller structures, like a cob oven, can be as little as 4 inches. I'm not sure how thick they would need to be for a chicken coop, but space isn't that big of a factor. I'd prefer not to build something too big, but we do have the space if we need to.

    Some people have suggested putting chicken wire inside the walls to keep predators out, but that seems a little much. We live on a farm surrounded by other farms, so there's very little in the way of large predators. Our biggest issues to chickens would be hawks and stray cats, neither of which I see breaking through a 2 foot thick wall.

    I am, though, debating over whether it would need to be built off the ground like a lot of coops are. Of the very few cob chicken coops that I've come across, most of them appear to be built more like a small house or shed where they aren't built off the ground. A lot of coops do so to help deal with rain, heat, and pest regulation. However, none of those are as big a deal with cob structures. We aren't planning on living at our current location forever, though, so I've thought about making it on wheels or otherwise moveable in some way. That would maybe mean that I'd have to build it off the ground.


    There's a lot of flexibility with cob structures, though. Even after the cob has dried you can add on, cut out, or reshape the structure, so if something doesn't work or needs to be expanded upon, it's possible to go back and change it later. Since there isn't any wood or other structural confines, there's also a lot more flexibility with nonlinear shapes and sculptural designs. One of the reasons that I'm so drawn to cob is that you can do such interesting things with it. A lot of cob structures are round or dome shaped.
     
  2. N F C

    N F C gobble gobble Premium Member Project Manager

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    It would be interesting to see what kind of coop structure you come up with. If you decide to build a cob coop, take lots of photos of your build to share!
     
  3. KJ6485

    KJ6485 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have never heard of cob, but it sounds like a fascinating idea, I would love to see the finished product if you decide to go this route (I say go for it!!) trial and error are the only ways to know how well something could work for you.
     
  4. Gnarled Carrots

    Gnarled Carrots Out Of The Brooder

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    Lol I think that you're right. I'm about to just dig in and see what works! If nothing else, enough trial and error should create something!
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I recently read an article about cob building in Mother Earth News and immediately though "chicken coop" [​IMG]

    I would say, make this first one your practice build and don't worry about making it mobile. I don't understand why folks make coops off the ground, myself. I like a walk-in style with a dirt floor. I would do that, like a small shed style. Since your building material is cheap, you won't be out much if you wind up walking away from it here in a year or so. Plus, the experience will be invaluable. I'm sure after using it for a while, you'll be eager to build another one and have several improvements in mind.

    I'd also love if you posted pics as you go. We''re also looking at moving, this spring/summer, so I'm not building here but was very intrigued by the idea, so maybe at our new place.
     
  6. Gnarled Carrots

    Gnarled Carrots Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm kind of leaning toward a shed-style coop. We're only going to be in our current location for a year or two, so it's either move the chicken coop or potentially tear it down when we move. Which, eek not too excited about! But it definitely makes this our practice round coop. We do have an old trailer base that's large enough to make the coop and run entirely mobile, but that would be much more difficult than just building a shed-style coop!
     
  7. ES4me

    ES4me Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm doing the preliminary figuring on building a cob coop myself. I have a purchased coop that has worked very well for us, but I want to expand. I've been interested in cob for years and think a coop is the perfect first project. If I like the results, I'll move on to a goat shed! [​IMG]
     
  8. N F C

    N F C gobble gobble Premium Member Project Manager

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    Some pictures would be nice to see!
     

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