Medium sized, safe coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by chrisrob31, May 20, 2019.

  1. chrisrob31

    chrisrob31 In the Brooder


    I will start by saying that the vast majority of this coop was inspired by the 'Strong, Safe, Low Maintenance' coop posted by 'gimpylou'. I will also mention that I am in no way a carpenter or construction expert, but this coop seems extremely sturdy and should be very predator proof (which was my #1 goal after losing all of our hens to a Fisher Cat last summer.)

    I started by digging a roughly 12' by 6' by 12" deep hole. A lot of people might ask, "If you're using the concrete footings shown in the picture, why not just dig holes where the footings are going?" The reason is, I wanted to put down an underlayment of hardware cloth which would cover the entire length and width of the coop in order to keep predators from digging and coming up underneath the coop. As you will see in the pictures, the hardware cloth will eventually be completely underground. IMG_4143.jpg

    I bought about 50 pressure treated 2"x4"x8's, and about 24 1"x8"x8's and painted them ahead of time since the hardware cloth will eventually be stapled to the 2x4s and it would be next to impossible to paint them after the fact.


    I bought 8 concrete footings but felt that it was sturdy enough just using 6, (although it wouldn't have hurt to use the other two)...but the worst part of this project to me was the digging and leveling, so I got lazy and only used 6.

    IMG_4149.jpg IMG_4150.jpg
    I used some construction adhesive (Fuze-it)to hold the boards together at the footings, and adhere them to the footings themselves. The stuff works great.


    I laid some 2x4s across the foundation to both hold it square, and give me someplace to attach the hardware cloth.

    Next came the hardware cloth which i attached with stainless steel bolts/washers/nuts.
    ***Note - If I had to do this project again, at this point I would've backfilled dirt to a level just below where the hardware cloth would be sitting. I put down the hardware cloth and thought I could throw dirt on top of it and have it sort of 'sift' down underneath, but that didn't work out too well and it was a lot of work getting dirt under the hardware cloth.


    Next I broke the coop up into quarters and started building walls. You could probably do them in any order you desired, I started with the front left. (I attached the hardware cloth to the walls with staples. I highly recommend doing tis on the ground before putting the wall's much easier than trying to do it once the wall is standing.)


    Then the back left, 1' shorter than the front. (I made the front side 7' high, and the back 6'.)


    I then built the left side wall, which contains the main door to walk into the coop.


    And built the door using 2x4s and some nice barn-type hardware I got at Lowes.


    Next came the front right wall. The lower 2' will be open so the chickens can roam underneath it if they want some shade, and the upper 5' (by 4' wide) is where I used the 1x8's.

    Then the back right wall. (I initially wasn't going to paint the inside of the enclosed section, but I ended up with plenty of extra paint, so it got painted after the fact.)


    I used plywood for the floor of the enclosed section and bought some cheap vinyl stick-on tile (again, credit goes to 'gimpylou') to put on top of it which will prolong the life of the plywood and make it easier to clean come cleaning time.


    I bought a small window (16"x21") and installed it backwards, so that I can open and close it from inside the coop when the chickens go in at night. In hindsight I should've gone with a slightly larger window as it's a tight squeeze for some of the bigger hens...but it works.

    After finishing with all the 1x8's, I cut out areas for a large right side door (to be able to get in there for cleaning purposes), and two small doors on the front for egg gathering.
    I also added a plywood roof, roofing paper, and shingles (not really pictured).

    On the inside of the enclosed section I added some roosting bars, and made 3 nesting boxes.

    I also cut a hole in the front of the enclosed section for a window (screened on the inside with hardware cloth), which could be opened for extra ventilation during good weather, but can be closed during rain and cold weather. And I added 2 small 4" by 12" vents for airflow, one on the top right front corner, and the other (not pictured) on the back top right of the enclosed section.


    And just a few pics of the finished product.
    Total cost was about $1200. (New York prices, could vary slightly depending on where you are.)
    I also plan on adding a gutter to the back roof and sending the rain water to a rain barrel which I will also pipe into the coop.


    Last edited: May 20, 2019
  2. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

    Mar 11, 2017
    South Park, Colorado, USA
    This looks lovely. You mention predator proof as the goal and I have a few observations/questions. What kind of staples did you use to attach the hardware cloth? It's hard to tell from the photos, but I'm not sure that they are fence staples and may need some reinforcement. Also consider additional latches on anything that opens. The "human" door is particularly vulnerable due to it's size and corner can be pried, but personally I like to have at least two latches on everything that can be opened, that way if one fails for some reason the door is still locked. How deep is the dirt you added in over the hardware cloth run floor? I've thought about adding a floor to my run and I'm not sure how deep it should be. Thanks! Good work!
  3. chrisrob31

    chrisrob31 In the Brooder

    Thank you for looking and for commenting!
    - The staples I'm not worried about. Could a coyote or large dog grab the hardware cloth with its teeth and rip it off the framing? I suppose. But 1) I've seen one coyote around here in the 14 years we've been here, and 2) the only large dogs around here are our pitbulls, and they are pretty ambivalent about the birds.
    - The latches are good latches, but I suppose it couldn't hurt to add a second one to each of the doors.
    - My biggest concern is something digging underneath, chewing through the hardware cloth, and getting into the coop. If it happened at night the birds would be safely secure in the enclosed section of the coop, but if it happened during the day, it would be bad. To answer your question, I'd say there is about 4" of dirt on top of the hardware cloth. (I am still adding more.) I wanted the chickens to be able to take dust baths and kick around for bugs and worms and stuff.
    - I'm pretty confident the coop will keep out foxes, and raccoons....what worries me are the Fisher Cats. They killed all my hens last year which is what prompted me to build this coop. It got into a hole about 2" wide. The biggest gap in this coop right now is about 1/2" around the top of the main door frame. Hopefully it works.

    Thanks again for your input!
  4. trumpeting_angel

    trumpeting_angel Crowing

    Feb 6, 2019
    512F583D-C804-41F1-B091-C7CAA9461425.jpeg A fisher cat took both my cats one day years ago. I never got another cat, and I’ve moved away, but to more risky territory! We’ve seen coyotes, foxes, and any number of hawks and owls. Oh, and the bear that broke into the porch last summer.

    We are building a coop now for the four sweeties in the brooder. We have been debating apron vs. buried HC, and I think DH is planning on burying it. He is a very experienced builder, so I’m sure it will be strong.

    Your coop is stunning! It looks exactly like my favorite coop design. Good luck! I know it’s very hard after a loss like that.

    Photo is bear damage.
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
  5. chrisrob31

    chrisrob31 In the Brooder

    Thank you so much!
    I'm very sorry for the loss of your cats. I had no idea Fishers would go after cats! We live just outside of New York City, and I've lived in this area all my life. Not until a couple years ago did I ever see a Fisher in these parts. We have a stream along side our house and one day I come home from work and my wife says, "Is it possible there could be otters around here?" After laughing for about 5 minutes I just came to the conclusion that she was crazy and seeing things. And then a few weeks later a neighbor tells me a Fisher killed his duck. I had to google it because I didn't even know what it was. Then I put 2 and 2 together and realized that was what my wife had seen.
    Anyway, it took about 2 years, but eventually it found its way into our old coop and killed all 6 hens and beat up the rooster a little bit (but he's still ok, that's him in the profile pic.)
    So I've seen a lot of coops with just an apron buried a few inches down, but I wouldn't trust that at all. I wanted to do my best to completely enclose the coop while still giving the birds earth to roam around on.

    At least I don't have to worry about bears! ;)
    trumpeting_angel likes this.
  6. trumpeting_angel

    trumpeting_angel Crowing

    Feb 6, 2019
    You hope!

    I had never heard of fishers either, until someone told me while I was putting up “lost cat” signs. I lived near a large marsh in Northampton, Massachusetts at the time. It was about 11 years ago.

    Bears get around, and are becoming more common in human-populated areas. Just sayin’!
    Willowspirit and chrisrob31 like this.
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Pretty nice job!! @chrisrob31
    I see a couple things that might be tweaked, but....
    Welcome to BYC!
    Where in this world are you located?
    Climate, and time of year, is almost always a factor.
    Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
    It's easy to do, (laptop version shown), then it's always there!
    chrisrob31 likes this.
  8. trumpeting_angel

    trumpeting_angel Crowing

    Feb 6, 2019
    You might want to rethink your HW cloth attachments. Just because it was burrowing that got your birds before, doesn’t mean it won’t be ripping off HW cloth this time. What’s a few screws with washers? Peace of mind.
    chrisrob31 likes this.
  9. tpatricco

    tpatricco Songster

    Mar 24, 2019
    Warren, NJ
    Wow about Fisher Cats (I live in Northern NJ west of Manhattan...on the edge of the burbs and the country. We've got plenty of predators - but I hadn't heard of them being a concern around here. Interesting thing to be aware of.

    You did a fantastic job on your coop. Looks great!
    trumpeting_angel likes this.
  10. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

    Mar 11, 2017
    South Park, Colorado, USA
    In regards to the light duty staples and the hardware cloth... It may seem securely attached now, but over time with the weather (hot and cold, wet and dry) wood expands and contracts on a regular basis and those staples become easier to pull out. There are many predators that can pretty easily pull the hardware cloth off your frame the way it is attached now. Screws with washers (as previously mentioned) could be used to make it more secure, or fence staples, or adding furring strips on top of the seams and screwing them to the frame. None of these would require redoing anything you have, just adding a bit to it.

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