Old Chicken Shed Renovation Project, Whitmore Lake Michigan.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by picky123, Mar 16, 2015.

  1. picky123

    picky123 New Egg

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    Feb 16, 2015
    Hello,

    I'm a new member of BYC and wanted to share an interesting project I've undertaken at a 114 old farmstead I recently moved into in Whitmore Lake, Michigan which came equipped with a (100 year old?) old barn/shed that was used for many many years as a chicken coop, and then abandoned. Enclosed are pictures of the chicken barn after a I removed much old farm equipment and trash from the inside.

    [​IMG]


    The flooring of the shed is all old planks, most rotted, covered by, I kid you not, about 100 years of dried chicken manure and hay that has by now formed thick sodlike sheets.

    [​IMG]

    This sodlike covering seems like it would be best to remove completely, and then replank and cover the gaps in the plank flooring. I hope to use a deep litter system in there, but the big job will be removing the old dried manure.

    This is a long project and I'll update on many other details (the yard, the chicken run, environment, etc, but firstly wanted to get some feedback:

    1) is the old dried manure a health hazard for humans or any new chickens? I am assuming universal precautions and wearing respirator as I rake it out, of course.

    Here's the entrance, another angle...
    [​IMG](Front)


    The shed is 20 foot by 16 foot, with an upstairs broodery (this is basically an attic in the shed), no electricity. There is a chicken door in the back area, but it opens into a glade of trees that grew up over the years, so I plan on sawing a new door.

    Is this chicken shed past saving entirely?
    Thanks for reading!
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2015
  2. nordicacres

    nordicacres Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, wow. You've got your work cut out for you! GL. Can't help with the contruction side of things. You may want to have someone personally come and look at it to see what would need to be done to "save" it :)
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. picky123

    picky123 New Egg

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    Surprisingly, I'm actually ok with the construction part...it doesn't need more than amatuer skills to build the roost, fence and cut the popdoors...it's sturdier than it looks. My main concern is clean up, temperature and predators...it seems like there are many...too many...ways for a coyote or fox to come up under the floor. Temps are a concern in the winter, but this coop predates the age of electricity so I figure I might be able to get by....there is a way to run an extension to the coop from the house if needed.

    I dunno, my dad says just burn it down and buy a coop somewhere. LOL.
     
  4. syndie

    syndie Out Of The Brooder

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    i would disassemble the barn and reuse the wood on a sturdy foundation.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Very closely inspect the foundation after you get all that petrified poop out of it.......
    .......and wear a serious respirator soft rubber edged that fits tight to your face, not just a paper dust mask.
     
  6. whistlepigacres

    whistlepigacres New Egg

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    Wow! That's a beautiful coop. I'm in the same situation and am wondering what others have to say about the sanitation part.

    We have a 115+ year old farmhouse with two large coops with enough room in each for 50 birds, both of which have many years of manure accumulation. Whew.

    I was thinking of covering small holes with hardware cloth, on the outside and underneath. The flooring is just large wooden beams across the bottom. I'm thinking about putting hardware cloth across the beams and then plywood with vinyl for easy cleanup. That starts to sound like overkill now that I type it up.

    I'm stuck with sanitation. I pulled a small mouse out of one coop that was covered in mites! That can't be good. One option would be to thoroughly clean and then paint the surfaces with oil-based barn paint and then maintain the painted surface.

    The coops are too well built to just scrap and put a new structure in its place. The nesting boxes are hand carved! It seems that you're having the same thought.

    I'm very interested in suggestions as well.
     
  7. picky123

    picky123 New Egg

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    Feb 16, 2015
    Greetings. This project hit some stumbling blocks...more or less weather related, but here's some updated picks. The bulk of my work has been shoveling out 100 year old fossilized chicken dung that has formed in heavy sheets, about a 1 foot thick in some areas. That took a solid week or so of relatively back breaking shoveling.

    Here's a corner I called Heartbreak Corner...truly back breaking work shoveling that out.

    [​IMG]


    And here's the contents of the floor of the coop...in a compost pile. This is everything I shoveled out.

    [​IMG]


    The prior owners appeared to use a deep litter system...as they'd evidentially used dirt/sand layer after layer and that is what I just shoveled out.


    I'm still leaning towards investing in a portable small coop, as the latest challenge is...


    A network of animal tunnels that are under the coop floor. It could be a fox or a ground hog, but definitely something lives in the abandoned hen house.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
  8. picky123

    picky123 New Egg

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    A few more notes:

    I used a sturdy respirator for most of the work. I did try one session with a relatively sturdy cotton mask, and what a mistake that was! I was impatient and having trouble with my glasses fogging up. Never again. Thank god that part was in the relatively dust free entrance area (not pictured).

    Foundation: The foundation is sturdy, but there is a network of animal tunnels under the flooring...probably my biggest challenge. I have other outbuildings so at this point I'm leaning towards locating my chickens in a different building entirely, or in a commercially available portable / fully enclosed backyard coop (Tractor Supply) and turning this into workshop /potting shed. I need to ascertain what sort of predator challenges I am really facing out here (there are coyotes, possums, raccoons, and turkey vultures in this area). I can actually fence out / deter with dogs the coyotes, possibly, but if a fox is living under the hen house...Game Over on this whole idea. The predator situation is rapidly becoming the #1 concern as the floor and coop shapes up. Is it even worth it? The coop is only 15 feet or so from my back door of my house house, so it would be patrolled closely...but how closely can I really guarantee the chicken security with this network of tunnels and obvious use by other animals over the last few years...

    We'll see. i have filled all the holes and am waiting to see which ones are still used to see how to proceed...

    Thanks for reading.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I would think that any larger predator, like a fox, would move on after all the activity of you moving in and cleaning the building.
    If its rats or groundhogs or something else, that might be a different story.

    It might be a good idea to get another smaller secure coop/run to start off with while you monitor activity and continue to work on the building.
    You could always use that smaller coop for grow out or brooding or isolation or infirmary or integration or.......
    But beware.... most of those small prefabbed coops are not worth the money, cheaply made, poorly laid out and they never cite realistic population numbers for them.

    Are the floor boards and framing in good shape? No rot, wet or dry?
    Do you own this property?
     

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