phase I of coop almost done -- almost final pics added

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by siouxbee, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. siouxbee

    siouxbee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 8, 2007
    Our coop at this point is 4 x 8 feet. The bottom 2.5 feet is the run, and the top 2.5-3 feet with a shed roof is the sleeping quarters. We're going to expand it with another 8 x 8 section, but right now we just need to get our 11 girls outside at night as well. They spend their days in a portable pen that I move to a new spot every day.

    I have some questions, now that we're actually putting the finishing touches on the part we have almost done, and I'm trying to plan the addition so it will be as easy as possible.

    1.) The ramp down. I cut a hole in the floor, it's almost 14 x 14 inches. Is this big enough for standard hens/possibly one rooster? I'm going to put the ramp down from there, and was considering hinging it, so I could shut the girls up at night for extra safety. I was thinking of drilling a small hole in the floor of the coop where the end of the ramp would be if it came up. Tying thin rope to the ramp, so I could draw it up and wrap the rope around a clamp at night to keep the ramp/door in the floor shut. Will this work? Am I insane? Oh, of course I am! I'm addicted to chickens! We've lost 2 chicks, one to a hawk, one to a racoon, so I'm determined not to repeat those mistakes. I know the run will be a pain to clean since it's so short and under the coop, but it was the cheapest/easiest way I could think of to make it safe.

    2.) Windows -- Can i just cut a hole in the plywood walls and mount the window with hinges outside that hole? I'd cover it with hardware cloth so it was safe even if open, but will this cause water to collect on top and rot out my coop wall or window? Will this sort of window cause drafts in the winter since it won't have an airtight seal?

    3.) If it turns out that all my measures to keep the run predator-safe work, can I leave the food/water outside at night so I don't have to suck up precious floor space inside? I guess in winter this wouldn't work for the water, right?

    4.) it's best to put something up to keep the hens from walking underneath the roosts, right? so when I calculate sq footage of the coop, I can't count that space, or the space where the food, water or nest boxes are, right?

    5.) can I grow anything they'd like to munch on in the run since it's pretty much in full shade? I hate to see bare dirt in there. I guess I should put down mulched leaves or grass clippings? I'm already way over budget and would like not to have to buy straw or pine shavings for the run. Can I just toss weeds I pull from the garden or flower beds in there?

    Ok. Well, you can see the building that I'm working on currently at my original post about a tractor gone awry at:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=5949


    I'll post updated pics tomorrow about what it looks like now. we tore out brambles and leveled out a mound of dirt in the back corner of our yard. We laid down wire fencing (not hardware cloth) and put cement "bricks" at the corners, with a 2 x 4 running in between, then put this coop on top of that. We are stapling that fencing to the bottom of the run before we add the hardware cloth. We also plan to bury more fencing around the perimeter to further discourage diggers.

    One short (4ft) end of the coop will have a door that will let us dock a portable pen to it, both to expand the run in the winter, and to get the chicks out on the lawn during the day so the run doesn't become toxic with poop. Our portable pen is 8 x 8, built mostly with firring strips (I think that's what they're called) so it's light, but flimsy. And unwieldy to move.

    So hubby wants to build ANOTHER portable pen he's calling the taxi to get the girls from coop to pen. I'm thinking something 4 x 8 built out of 1 x 3's which will give them a little more room during the day, but be easier to move. We'll see. one thing at a time I guess. I knew I was going to build many chicken structures... so much for my "cheap" free range organic eggs. sigh.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2007
  2. BeckyLa

    BeckyLa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    N. Louisiana
    Ok, here's my nickel's worth. lol.

    1) I would think that that size of hole would be fine, but as they get bigger just watch them to see if you need to make some adjustments. Yes, you can close the ramp as you discribed. This is the same setup I had in my banty barn and it worked well.

    2) For windows in our Playhouse coop, we cut two holes, as you described, covered the inside with hardware cloth, and put windows with panes on the outside. I hinged them at the top so I could open the windows from the bottom and tie them open. My reason for doing it this way was that we get a lot of rain here and by opening it from the bottom, the window itself became a sort of roof over the opening so the rain doesn't blow in and ruin the bedding. However, if you have a coon climb up that high he might be able to get in unless you have the hardware cloth attached veeeery securely. As for winter, here we seldom get even into the teens at night so I just shut the window and tie it shut so the wind doesn't blow in. There is some air leak, though, but it's not cold enough here to worry about so I just call it ventilation. lol.

    3) I always leave the water outside to protect the bedding in the coop. As long as you don't have a problem with rain blowing into the bottom, you could leave the feed there too. But I make my own feeders for my "space challenged" coops by cutting a piece of 4-6" inch pvc to a 2-3' length and fasten it in a corner. Then put a pan, that's bigger in diameter than the pvc, under it with the bottom of the pvc about 2" higher than the pan. Then fill it up with feed and instant automatic feeder that takes up very little floor space. The trick is to find a corner where you can see in the top and it's easy to refill. Works great! As for water in the winter, I'd just leave it in the bottom. Depending on your climate and the type of waterer you use, you could just break ice off in the morning (if it's a bowl type) or if it's a plastic or metal automatic waterer you could run electric and put it on a warmer.

    4) I don't worry too much about my chickens walking around under the roost, they just mix the poop into the bedding so it will dry out. They walk in poo all the time outside anyway. And if the food and water are outside, then the only space you don't count would be the nest box. And you could put that on the outside of the coop if you wanted too. Just cut a hole like you do for the windows and attach a box to the outside. I have that on my little banty barn and it works fine. In fact, I have one open box 3' long so they can all lay at the same time if they're a mind to without sitting on top of each other (a problem I have in a different coop). I also hinged the top of the nest box so I could get the eggs from outside the coop.

    5) You really don't have enough space under the coop to grow anything. Even if you got it planted, they'd gobble it up before it had a chance to grow. I just fill the bottoms, in coops like yours, with sand and mix DE into it. They love it for dustbathing and it stays pretty cool on a hot day. They'll walk/scratch most of the poo into the sand and if it starts getting stinky, just rake out as much poo as you can, hose it down good so the poo washes down, and let it dry. If it still has a problem sprinkle it good with garden lime and mix it into the sand with a rake. Then throw all the scraps you want to in for them. They'll love it and the sand will give them grit which they need for digestion.

    I'm sorry to make this sooo long but I hope you can put some of this to use .
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2007
  3. siouxbee

    siouxbee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 8, 2007
    wow, that's awesome. thank you very much for taking the time. I love the idea of the automatic feeder, I'll have to figure out how t do that in my space. ANd maybe I'll put hardware cloth on the outside and inside before I put the windows on. I had been thinking of hinging the windows on top so that the chicks wouldn't roost on them if they were free ranging, but rain is an even better reason to do so.

    my camera ran out of batteries, so as soon as they charge, I'll post some pics of our current progress. I might have to end up moving the nest boxes outside, especially since we have 3 more months til they'll be laying anyway. no sense taking up that space now while it's so limited anyway.

    thanks again for your help.

    sioux
     
  4. BeckyLa

    BeckyLa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    N. Louisiana
    I'm looking forward to your pics!!
     
  5. siouxbee

    siouxbee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 8, 2007
    ok, I took some updated pics this weekend. I'm depressed at how little progress shows, since we spent nearly 2 days working on it.

    [​IMG]
    We picked up the coop, leveled the dirt, and laid down plastic-coated green garden fencing, leaving some around the perimeter. We put concrete blocks at the four corners, and put the coop on top of this. DH cut 2 x 4s to run in between the blocks, and put stones in front of that to help deter anything from getting through. then we wrapped the extra fencing up and stapled it to the bottom 2 x 4s. We put dirt on top of that, and I'm going to put something on top of the dirt, either shredded leaves or hay or grass clippings, not sure.

    [​IMG]
    We're going to put a door on the short end of the run so that I can clean it out. But the ladder was goign to be in the way, so we just have it resting on a shelf of 2 x 4s at the top, and have some blocks of wood holding it in place at the bottom. The door on this side, plus the back sie of the run will be plywood (with a strip of hardware cloth at the top across the back for ventilation -- the plywood is only 2 feet tall, and the run is 2.5 feet tall. I figured this will be a good wind break for the winter, on the north and west side of the coop.

    [​IMG]
    I'd bought those vent thingies at a reclaimed hardware store, but was worried a coon could get on top of the coop and rip them off, so we put hardware cloth on the inside with screws (to hard to bang the poultry net staples against the plywood).

    [​IMG]
    My 7 year old son built the ladder. That's the best part about this project, is his ability to get some hands on experience with stuff like this.

    [​IMG]
    Hubby and kids inside the coop, for perspective.
     
  6. mamading

    mamading Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 2, 2007
    Rhinelander, WI
    Great pictures! Especially the two of your helpers!
     
  7. LaMamaGallina

    LaMamaGallina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 7, 2007
    everywhere
    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2012
  8. barg

    barg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2007
    Looking good!
    I wouldnt try sitting in the coop I built, even if I could fit in the door hehe
     
  9. aran

    aran Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 28, 2007
    rochester ny
    that picture of your husband with the kids...that is fantastic and should absolutely be kept in an album somewhere for your kids to look back on and remember what a cool project they worked on with their dad 30, 40, 50 years from now.

    I think on a different note that the coop looks great...same basic design that I used although i think the stuff you did on the ground below the coop is ingenious and I will have to think of a way to incoorporate some of those ideas into the next coop!
     
  10. siouxbee

    siouxbee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 8, 2007
    I'm hoping what we did on hte bottom will be enough to keep out the racoons. The mom and three babies I found on my front steps this week munching my birdfood are making me VERY nervous! Today's the day for the big push to finish the coop, so I'll post more pics once we're done for the day.

    Here's one more of my chicken-ladder tester:
    [​IMG]
     

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