Noob seeks advice: Rebuild or replace?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by hungry, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. hungry

    hungry Out Of The Brooder

    40
    6
    24
    Mar 8, 2013
    Grayson County, Texas
    Hi all. First off, I have zero experience with chickens but am quite interested.

    So here's the story: I just moved into a house that happens to have an old chicken coop. Actually there is a 110x200 foot paddock that looks like it was set up for a horse or other larger animal.

    On one side of the paddock, along a property line, is a 15x60 area fenced with 60" high 4x2" hardware cloth, barbed wire every foot, and corrugated steel at the base. The coop is inside that yard. The building is is 10x6, about 15 feet from one end, narrow side up against the property line/fence. That end us further fenced to create a 15x15 yard within a yard. The coop itself takes up about half the building...you go in a standard door to stand in a 5x6 "room" with a small door in the dividing wall. Open that door and you are looking into the coop where there is roost space and three nesting boxes on the far wall.

    On the good side, you have a choice of leaving the chickens in the small yard, giving them the run of the 15x60 space, or letting them into the full paddock I guess.

    Even better, it is all basically intact. The gates all need to be replaced, the fence needs some care, and a tree fell across the fence and is resting on the coop, but it didn't do any expensive harm. I doubt it would take $100 to make it completely serviceable.

    On the other hand...well off the top of my head:
    1. It's right up against the property line, limiting access and increasing the odds of conflict.
    2. The neighbor on that side has two dogs that seem to like jumping fences...I've seen the neighbor running around after his loose dogs every day or two.
    3. The coop hasn't been used by anything but insects for decades. Well, insects and spiders. It's all fairly weathered and chewed on.
    4. It seems kinda weird to need to reach in through the coop to get to the nest boxes and the like. Not the most convenient arrangement.

    I really don't know whether to go ahead and clean it all up and get some chickens, or to knock it all down and build something, then get chickens. I can't see getting more than six, and honestly 2 or 3 would probably provide more eggs than I really need. I could build a small coop and four 15x15 yards (with individual gates to make it easy to rotate through the yards) and use up exactly the same square footage. For that matter I could mark out space for four 30x30 yards and use movable fences and be using the same space at any given time.

    I'm still new to all of this so if I'm missing something obvious please mention it. I'm looking for any and all advice.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    34,025
    466
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    You have a lot of choices. I'd probably go a lazy route, but that's me. I know I'd set it up so I could choose which yard they went in each day, so hopefully there would always be grass.

    The biggest concern is the dogs, which are probably chickens' #1 predator. It's not fair that you should have to protect your chickens from them -- it's the owners' responsibility, obviously -- but that is the reality of it. You may have to resort to something like an electric fence.

    I like to be able to walk into a coop, to look for eggs out of the nest, to check on the birds, because that's where I keep the food and water, to give them a snack, and so forth -- so I'd probably knock a wall down somewhere. I actually have a lawn chair in mine and love to just sit a while (I used to have a lot more chickens so the coop is ample size.) For 3 or 4 hens, all you need is one plastic WalMart bin for a nest -- or one old dresser drawer, or even one 5 gallon bucket on its side with a bit of lip in the front -- whatever. I have used a cardboard box. I have not spent money on a nest. If you don't like the present nest setup, don't use it.

    And good luck!
     
  3. hungry

    hungry Out Of The Brooder

    40
    6
    24
    Mar 8, 2013
    Grayson County, Texas
    Lazy is often wise, but it pays to know what you can safely be lazy about. :)

    The dogs are the big concern, agreed. Beyond the two that live on the other side of the fence there may be others in the neighborhood. However, the layers of protection (chicken wire built up to 7 feet, hardware cloth, barbed wire, corrugated tin used to block off the bottom 16" of the fences) lead me to believe that other animals may be on offer too.

    The more I think about it, the less I like having everything right up against the property line.

    Part of me wants to build a 6x10 floor with runners or maybe even wheels, jack up the current coop (either cutting the posts off at ground level or pulling the posts out of the ground, depending on if the builder used concrete) and turn the current fixed/dirt floor coop into a (slightly) movable floored coop. Part of me thinks it would be easier to build just what I need.

    Too many choices.....
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    38,943
    13,670
    686
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Pics?
     
  5. hungry

    hungry Out Of The Brooder

    40
    6
    24
    Mar 8, 2013
    Grayson County, Texas
    None good, but let's see what I can do....

    [​IMG]



    This is from inside the large yard, outside the small yard, showing the coop itself. The opening at the top has chicken wire screens and the board leaning against the coop is just leaning, not supporting. However, the coop is structural for the tree you can see resting on it. :)


    [​IMG]

    This is the large yard as seen from next to the coop. I've been trimming some of the trees and brambles away so you can see some of the trimmings in the foreground. Lots of saplings of who knows what kind have grown up over the years this has been neglected.

    [​IMG]


    looking into the "shed" part of the coop building. The door to the coop portion is hanging open and more or less edge-on to the camera. You can see the opening where the chickens would go in and out, blocked off with some junk, at the bottom. Dirt floor, everything has been abandoned for years. There are a couple rolls of chicken wire and some oil drum ends in the coop portion, visible through the door.

    [​IMG]

    A view into the coop portion. It's actually not as bad in here, but there are lots of spider webs above and below frame.

    As I said, not great shots. The biggest single obstacle to really using the space is that I need a chainsaw to cut up the tree that fell through the smaller chicken yard and on top of the coop, but there is plenty of work to do to bring this back up to being something a person would be proud of.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    38,943
    13,670
    686
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Looks pretty solid, but like you said location can be everything. Doesn't look to be alot of work to tighten it up safely for chickens. The run and dogs could be a significant issue.

    If you've just moved there and are not in a real hurry for chooks it might be better to wait until you've lived there a year, get yourself acclimated to your land and surroundings and do alot of reading here to learn about chickens, then eventually decide what you really want to do and what/where will work best.

    Or you could just throw some chickens in there and learn as you go, knowing there might be some hard lessons. Another thing that struck me is that you might be able to take that building apart and use the materials to build a coop away from the property line. It actually looks like it was built using repurposed materials already.

    Not much help, huh? <shrug>
     
  7. hungry

    hungry Out Of The Brooder

    40
    6
    24
    Mar 8, 2013
    Grayson County, Texas
    Yes on the just moved part...I've only been here a few weeks and there is a lot of work to do - the house is over 100 years old and hasn't always been taken care of. The livestock area (paddock, chicken coop, an so on) suffered more than anything else...the previous owner claimed he hadn't gone into the paddock area since he bought the place. I think the "barn" was built in the 1980s or 90s (the elevated floors are OSB which dates it to 1980ish or later) and the coop may have been built at the same time.

    Between the house, setting up a garden, and clearing away volunteer trees and the like I have plenty to keep me busy this year. I can totally see the benefit of taking some time to plan things out....but part of me doesn't want to wait. Silly, I know.

    The coop siding was definitely pulled off of some other structure. You can see the lines on the inside where it used to be attached to studs.

    I'm seriously leaning towards getting a roll of this fencing: http://www.premier1supplies.com/detail.php?prod_id=20170 (picked out at not-quite-random), an energizer for it, building a small (suitable for three to six birds) coop (whether out of reclaimed materials or not), and staking out an area further into the paddock.... but I'm still a total noob and there are probably obvious problems with that plan. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013
  8. hungry

    hungry Out Of The Brooder

    40
    6
    24
    Mar 8, 2013
    Grayson County, Texas
    Got a chance to spend part of this afternoon with a chainsaw. Cut up most of the fallen tree that was on top of the coop/chicken yard fence. Clearing away the fallen tree made it obvious that the neighbor's dogs have an elevated view into the little chicken yard. It's like it was designed to tease those dogs. :(

    Also stopped by city hall to ask about local ordinances regarding chickens. They thought the question was funny in a ”why are you even asking?" way and had to look through a couple of books... Turns out there is a local ordinance that lists some totally common sense requirements... birds must be kept in a fenced enclosure with at least 12 square feet per bird, the coop must be readily cleanable, and so on. No minimum distance from property line or rules against roosters (the person doing the looking made a comment along the lines of, "roosters calling at 4am don't bother me, but you should probably talk to your neighbors before getting anything really loud"). Obviously they're human and could've missed something but it sounds good.

    So...as far as the city is concerned my current coop meets the rules and I could have 18 birds just counting the smaller chicken yard. As far as reality is concerned putting chickens right under the noses of two fence-hopping dogs (and you can see where they have bent up part of the neighbor's fence and the neighbor was trying to patch it) sounds like a non-finisher of an idea to me.

    So my answer at this pont is "replace". I'm going to take the suggestion of reclaiming materials as I can to build a new coop (probably next to the "barn") and fence in some of the land away from the property line for a chicken playground.

    Thanks for the input so far! I'm learning. :)
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. Child of Noah

    Child of Noah Chillin' With My Peeps

    201
    13
    83
    Mar 12, 2013
    Upstate New York
    Do you have a dog? Might you think of getting one? A dog of your own might protect your yard and chickens from invaders. The neighbor dogs don't care if you move the coop from the property line, if they are jumping the fence anyway they will be going where ever they want.

    Edit to add: P. S. I like that netting too. I may get some with a solar powered if my grand idea of free ranging doesn't work out so well.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  10. Kjordanov

    Kjordanov Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 19, 2012
    NW
    A guardian dog (great Pyrenees, Maremma sheepdog, Etc.) would do well with the chickens if you want a dog :) We have maremma sheepdogs and they get upset anytime our other dogs even go near the pen!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by