Plexiglass wall?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Fiestysushi, Nov 8, 2009.

  1. Fiestysushi

    Fiestysushi New Egg

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    I like in coastal Virginia, right near the Chesapeake Bay. I've never had chickens before but I am looking forward to it big time. I've been reading tons of posts over the past couple months, and am in the process of designing my coop for 4-6 laying hens. I have noticed a couple mentions of removable walls, and also some suggestions for using Plexiglas high on the walls, near the eves, to give extra light. I have considered merging those two into a removable Plexiglas wall. Instead of having a solid wall w/panes of Plexiglas in it, I was thinking Plexiglas sheet however many feet in size as the wall, with opaque bits attached to it. Not sure how much to leave clear. I was thinking sturdy wire, possibly 2 overlying layers, that would be the "wall" when the plexiglass wall was removed in the warmer months. I figured having lots of light would help them lay in the cooler months, any suggestions?
     
  2. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The wall of my chicken coop that is facing my house has ceiling to floor plexiglass window panes so that I can see what is going on inside the coop while standing at my living room window.


    My brother built my coop. What he did was he put up a 7 1/2 foot by 13 foot by 6 foot high fenced dog kennel up. Then he attached removable walls to the dog pen with wire ties.


    On three sides of the coop, the bottom four feet of the walls consist of sheets of 4 foot tall plywood (3/4 inch thickness) along the entire length of those walls, which he drilled holes in and attached to the fence with wire ties. The top two feet of those walls consist of aluminum siding, also attached to the fence with wire ties. The roof is built like a house's roof, not flimsy like most chicken coop roofs are, but I don't know how exactly to describe it to you with words.


    It is very easy to take off any part of the walling that I want to at any time -- in fact, during the hot summer, I took off the two feet of aluminum siding at the top of the east, south and west walls to allow for breezes to flow through while providing ample protection from rain. It was easy -- just clip the wire ties, and the wall coverings of my choice came right off. In the autumn, I just took new wire ties and slipped them into the predrilled holes, and the top two feet of wall was covered for winter. Easy as that.


    Now, on the north side -- THAT is where the two plexiglass windows are.


    How he did that:


    He took the largest sheets of plexiglass he could find (6 feet by 3 feet) and he screwed them into a frame he built for them out of 2' by 4's. He used some of those metal Simpson gizmos to make the frame with -- he says if you get the right metal Simpson gizmo, you can build pretty much anything even if you don't have any carpentry abilities whatsoever. (They sell those Simpson gizmos at Lowe's).


    He then put eyelets on the wooden frame so that he'd have something to stick the wire ties to.


    Then he just hung the custom made plexiglass windows to the dog fencing with wire ties.


    Simple as that.


    The plexiglass windows are easily removed for summer air and/or cleaning. I just have to cut the wire ties and take them down. They can be placed back just as easy by attaching new wire ties.


    The only problem with that setup is that plexiglass windows do not provide winter insulation. But we put two panel heaters out there (the kind they sell at shopthecoop.com especially for chicken coops), and plugged them into one of those electrical sockets that does not turn on until temps reach 35 degrees, and then automatically turn themselves off at 45 degrees. (You can also find those electrical sockets at shopthecoop.com, which is where I bought mine.)


    So I'm using electric heat when absolutely necessary to make up for the fact that my large plexiglass windows do not provide adequate insulation.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2009
  3. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Extra light is a plus in winter months. A good-sized window on east side of coop is best for good egg production as it helps get them started earlier. On N side, I would only do a couple of floor level fents that can be closed tightly in wintertime and open in summertime. (Mine has good sized windows on 3 sides and the N side is a blank wall where nest boxes and feed and water troughs beneath those are located.) Plexiglas is expensive and comes in 3' X 6' sheets. Easiest to just plan the thing to use that size to avoid having to cut it. To cut it, needs to be heavily and repeatedly scored on both sides and then using two straight edges clamped on the piece you want to keep before breaking. Table saw is fine too, but wear eye protection. I can see nothing wrong with having a removable panel of plexiglass that leaves a screened window when the plexi is removed. One caution is to be certain that there is an overhanging roof, 12-16" to prevent rain blowing in. Wet litter sucks.
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    If it's removeable for the summer, that's not too bad; but remember you don't want to overheat the coop in the winter either (and that's when the sun is lower and slantier, and leaves are less apt to be on trees, and so in general you cannot count on as many sources of shade for a coop). I would do it cautiously if at all, on the S or W sides of the coop. (By 'cautiously' I mean 'being prepared to say Oh Pooh and take it off and replace with a different arrangement, hopefully finding another use for all that expensive plexiglass you've bought and drilled holes in').

    Normally I would say don't do it on the N side for temperature reasons but in your location that's not an issue, nor should wintertime condensation on the uninsulated window be an issue. So in your particular location, I think it would be pretty ok on the N or E side of the coop.

    You really don't NEED it for light, though. A light colored interior of the coop and a sensible # of windows is quite entirely adequate. Insofar as light is limiting for part of the year, it's day length, not brightness *during* the day, and a plexiglass wall isn't going to make the sun rise any earlier or set any later [​IMG] [tho a really dim, insufficiently-windowed coop can of course *decrease* effective daylength]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  5. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    My Coop
    Quote:Barry - your coop sounds very interesting - would it be possible to post some pics of it so we can see what you mean about the roof, removable walls etc?
     
  6. ChanceRider

    ChanceRider Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My coop is a transformed garbage can "shed", 4' x 8' by 5' tall. The doors to the shed were long gone when we bought the property so DH built doors of 1" x 2" welded wire on a wood frame of 2 x 4's. The result is that the 2 east facing doors are almost completely wire. On the left hand door we built another "door" or shutter out of plywood, that I can open or close at will (it's on hinges), to keep out the elements. The right hand door will soon have it's own shutter, made out of clear corrugated plastic material. The clear door will let in light, the corrugated panels will allow for air flow at the top and bottom of the panels, and it will be easy to remove in the spring.

    I love having the entire front of the coop open to the air... the coop stays dry, airs out well, and allows me to see in from my bedroom without going outside.

    Good luck with your coop... hope you'll post pics when you're done!
     
  7. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I love the idea of being able to see your chickens from inside your house. Wish I had thought of that before putting my coops where I did. If I press my head up against the window in our bedroom, twist my neck just so, I can maybe glimpse a corner of the winter coop. Not exactly ideal....but I don't think my spouse is going to understand that I now need to put up a coop camera.
     
  8. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

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    Quote:Barry - your coop sounds very interesting - would it be possible to post some pics of it so we can see what you mean about the roof, removable walls etc?

    yes please barry, I second that request!
     
  9. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Barry - your coop sounds very interesting - would it be possible to post some pics of it so we can see what you mean about the roof, removable walls etc?

    I need to learn how to post pictures on the net. I'm technologically challenged. I have a digital camera and can take the pics, and I even know how to stick the little card in my computer to load them onto my e-machine. But I don't know how to upload pics to a website like this.


    Are there instructions somewhere on how to do that?
     
  10. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Barry - your coop sounds very interesting - would it be possible to post some pics of it so we can see what you mean about the roof, removable walls etc?

    I'll see what I can do about taking pics of the different building "features" he used, and seeing if I can figure out how to post them on the net.


    But one thing I can tell you: my brother is a great blue collar craftsman when it comes to electrical work, locksmithing, HVAC, plumbing and stuff like that, but he has very little carpentry skill (or so he tells me. He's still way better than I would ever be.)


    That is why he put up the dog fence and then built onto that. He is adamant (as am I) that anything we do be well built -- after all, the New Madrid earthquake fault is not that far away -- but he said he just didn't have the skill to build the initial "box" for the building. (My wording, not his).


    The dog fence was just a kit from Lowe's. It was very simple to build, but it gave two carpentry-challenged guys a fighting chance to build a very good coop.


    The roof is just something I'd have to take pictures of. I don't know the words that carpenters use for what he did. The roof took more time and effort (from both of us) than the rest of the coop combined, but that is because he wanted to make sure it would not buckle under the weight of snow or in an earthquake -- a tall task when you are building your pen on a dog fencing foundation.


    He was also careful to use enough different Simpson fasteners and other stuff to eventually mold the building into a single unit despite all of it's removable walling features. (And it has many different configurations, depending on what walls you want to remove and which walls you want to keep hanging at any given moment.)


    There are 4 sets of florescent tube lighting fixtures inside the coop (two light tubes per lighting fixture), which are connected to a timer. The chickens get 14 hours of light, and 10 hours of darkness.


    There is also a plywood box -- 6 feet by 3 feet by 2 feet tall -- with a plexiglass roof -- with two laying nests in it. We had three in there at one time, but they refused to use one of the nests so we eventually removed it to give them more room. There is a compartment that is screened off inside the box where they cannot get to it, and inside that compartment is a small fan or else a small ceramic heater (depending on the season) to keep the hens comfortable while they lay their eggs. It is impossible for them to get to, touch, or even peck the equipment because of it being in that specialized compartment. The flooring is a special plastic flooring especially designed for chicken coops -- it is comfortable for chickens to walk on, but has plenty of holes to allow their manure to slip underneath. The box has about six inches underneath the flooring for manure to drop into. Twice a year I lift up that plastic flooring and take a shovel to clean out all of that aged manure. My organic garden LOVES that stuff!


    We had 65 mph sustained straight line winds come through here not long ago, and the coop didn't have a bit of trouble in that storm. We also had the ditch behind my house flood over its banks and into my back yard after several weeks of solid rain (first time in at least 15 years this ditch has ever flooded), and although it did bring some flood waters into the coop, it did no other damage. I just shoveled out the wet pine shavings soon as the water receeded, replaced them with dry shavings, and life went on. (Note: the floor is a dirt floor, covered by several inches of plywood shavings). Even all the electrical stayed on without a hitch during that flooding, cuz my brother thought to protect the electrical system from rain and flood.


    Yeah, that coop is definitely worth some pics posted up here, if I can figure out how to do it.
     

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