Nesting boxes for the Chicken McMansion (Part 4)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Chieftain, Jan 10, 2010.

  1. Chieftain

    Chieftain Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I previously discussed how I framed the Chicken McMansion with two external nesting boxes in this thread:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=283812

    I got bored watching the lousy football being played today and decided to be productive instead. It was the second sunny day in a row here so I figured I should take advantage of it...

    I have been noodling for weeks about how best to go about building and attaching the nest boxes for my coop. I am to the point of being almost ready for siding, and I decided to side around the nest boxes instead of building them over the siding.

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    I started by sketching what I wanted on a large sheet of graph paper to get a grasp on the essentials, and I opted for building it to the coop in pieces. I started by carefully making two identical end pieces which I screwed into place after making sure they were square. Then I measured, laid out and cut the bottom and back panels. I tacked everything together with my air nailer then went back and secured it all permanently with Gold Screws.

    I also measured out lengths of 2x2 and a couple of pieces of 2x4 and attached those to the plywood pieces with screws. If you study the pictures, you can see how I put this together progressively. i intend to fill the spaces between the 2x2s with more 1 1/2" block foam and then cover the sides with T-111 siding.

    My intention is to build a top frame out of 2x2 lumber that fits inside the opening for the lid, and then capping the whole thing with an oversized piece of plywood. It will be hinged to lift up for egg gathering and then lock back down tightly and securely. Then I can insulate the top and cover the inside of it with plywood.

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    It even fits under the drip edge of the roof...kinda like it was designed that way.....[​IMG]

    The inside of the box is 16" deep, 12" high at the back and 16" high in the front. I'll lose a little hight with the lid, but these are spacious nest boxes. I'll add a strip of wood across the front to help retain the nesting material and we'll try these as communal nest boxes at first. If we have to partition them later, it will be pretty simple to do.

    I'll prime all of the wood with Kilz and probably use epoxy paint on the floor at least, if not the entire box. This should be easy to clean out and a nice warm quiet nesting box. There will be one just like it to the left of this one, and accessed from inside the run.

    Too big?? Too small? Just about right?? Comments and suggestions are certainly welcome....

    Cheers!

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  2. Chieftain

    Chieftain Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh yah...and be sure to get yourself a competent Sidewalk Supervisor to help keep an eye on things...

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  3. Chieftain

    Chieftain Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's been a while since I updated this topic, and since I essentially finished my nestboxes today, I figured it was about time to post a few pictures and explain what I've been up to.

    For starters, the weather here has been pretty reasonable of late, and that has enabled me to do something on the project almost every day. I've made steady progress on construction and have finished the inside of the coop. The outside is in primer, and still needs some trim and finishing work, but it is reasonably protected from rain and weather.

    My roof has been repeatedly tested by several very strong wind storms in a row, along with driving rain, and I am happy to report no runds, no drips, and no errors! But back to the nestboxes...

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    As I previously discussed, I filled all of the gaps between the 2x2 framing with solid 1 1/2 stryofoam insulation, and then covered the outside of the boxes with 1/2" CDX plywood. I will add some trim lumber to the front corners of the boxes to protect the plywood edges.

    In the first picture you can see a very skinny temporary cedar board that I put up to check the slope of the ramp up into the coop. I added a couple of garden pavers in the run, and actually cut the bottom of the doorpan down 2" to reduce the slope, and that doesn't look too bad as it is.

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    The lids were fairly straight forward but a little tricky. I built a 2x2 frame to fit the top opening, then cut the top plywood skin to give me an overlap on three sides. I placed the skin on the box and drew lines on it to guide me where the screws had to go, and I fastened thh frames to the underside of the lid with gold screws. I then filled the open frame with block foam, and installed a 3/8" skin over that. I used my circular saw and my belt sander to taper the front edge, and smooth the frame all around, inside and out, until the lids snicked into place nice and smooth. I built the frames to fit tight, and then carved and shaped them down to fit smoothly.

    With the lid in place, I cut 1x2 pieces to fit, and installed them inside the boxes as positive stops. When the lid shuts, it doesn't just rest on the plywood, the bottom of the lid is supported on three sides by lumber an at the back by the hinges. There is a 1x2 sealing stip that the back edge of the lid closes against. The lids are completely air and water tight, and I will secure the front shut with a hasp, especially the front because it is outside of the run.

    The inside of the boxes have been primed with Kilz, the floors painted with 2-part epoxy garage floor paint, and the walls with the light blue porch paint. The inside of the lids are to be blue as well. It's a nice looking effect, and completely waterproof. During the periodic cleaning of the coop it will be simple to open the top and vacume everything out, and even scrub it with soap and water if necessary.

    In any case, I think I came up with a pretty solid design for external nestboxes, and I am confident that the hens will like them as much as I do. [​IMG]
     
  4. SuziQ991

    SuziQ991 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow great job. Your hens will love it!
     
  5. Chieftain

    Chieftain Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks!

    I should also mention that I intend to take a rubber strip and install it over the hinge line of both boxes just to make certain they do not leak.
     
  6. Michaelinwa

    Michaelinwa Out Of The Brooder

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    I think this is the best chicken coop I ever saw. Your chickens will be very happy! The coop is nicer then the house I live
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2010
  7. TaylorC

    TaylorC Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm in the process of designing external nests. I like how you have the box framed and then the insulation around it. I've been going at it the other way: building the box and then sticking insulation (pinkboard) inside it and covering it. Think I may change my mind about it.
    Good work! Hope it pays in egg.
     
  8. Chieftain

    Chieftain Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Thank You Taylor, and you too Kevin! It's a great coop for the chickens to live in, but a little small for people, although a 12 year old boy might be able to stretch out if you aren't too tall...

    The inside-out method was the easiest way I could come up with to build these, and make certain they fit right from the beginning. I did a number of abortive sketches on these trying to figure out how I could keep it square, plumb and airtight all at the same time. This way made sure there are no drafts and no leaks and it was pretty simple to assemble.

    Our chooks have been in the coop for a few weeks now and although it is way soon for them to lay eggs, I lined the boxes with Timothy hay anyway, just so they would know there is a difference between the box and the coop. So far they have been in the nestboxes scratching around and they seem to have a good time in there...

    Cheers!

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  9. Chieftain

    Chieftain Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Updating....

    The chooks have been in the coop for about a month now, and they have been taking increased interest in the nestboxes. They have been making themselves nests out of the timothy hay I put in there, but they all have hard wooden flooring for the bottoms. I decided yesterday to try an idea I had a while ago, and that is coconut fiber mats to line the bottoms of the boxes.

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    As you can see, this matting is very thin; less than 1/4" and well matted together. If the chooks want to pick at it, they can do that safely with this material, as opposed to putting astroturf in there and letting them eat plastic. Each nestbox got a piece of matting that extends from side to side and up the back of the box.

    The hay creates quite a bit of dust, and I have sprinkled a little bit of DE in there too. The matting will help to control a lot of that dust as well as giving the eggs something besides plywood to land on. This stuff is pretty cheap down at the local garden center, and it came in 2 widths; 2' and 3'. They sell it by the foot so it is easy to get exactly what you need.

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  10. stcath95

    stcath95 Out Of The Brooder

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    This is some great stuff!!!!...bought for no particular reason from restaurant over 2 years ago 20 buckets he had stacked to sell $1 each-- been in garage all that time----just made 2 water buckets and 7 nesting buckets...was going to use cat litter containers but not quite wide enough to look at them.. add pictures when I install later today..16.hens - 10 weeks age (Easters)..got doz Vanbelder eggs in incubator
    ..getting set up early for egg laying....THANKS Kenny
     

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