Pole barn coop conversion

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Big_Charlie, Feb 28, 2008.

  1. Big_Charlie

    Big_Charlie Out Of The Brooder

    43
    0
    22
    Feb 27, 2008
    Fulton, KY
    Hey everybody! The amount of information available here is absolutely staggering.

    My wife and I have decided that 2 years after moving to the country we should try our hands at raising chickens (really it's my MIL's fault, she put the thought in my head). We have a pretty big barn that came with our house with a big lean-to on the south side of it. The bays between the poles in the lean-to measure 12'x15', and I got it in my head that enclosing one of these bays with an elevated floor underneath might just be the solution for a coop, with a big patch of grass under some nearby trees enclosed with a fence for a nice run. If it works out and we decide to expand the flock or get some meat birds, it would be easy expand into the next bay over. Has anyone tried something like this?

    I'm looking at ordering the Brown Egg Layers Assortment from McMurray with 25 chicks, which should give us more than enough eggs for ourselves (3 plus one on the way), our extended family, and plenty to sell to buy feed for the little buggers. Has anyone ever ordered this assortment and what did you get in it? There are simply so many choices of breeds that letting someone else pick out an assortment of breeds just seems like an easy way to go and then figure out which ones we like for the next time we order.

    Thanks!

    Big Charlie
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    86
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi, and welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    Your idea of converting one bay of a pole barn or drive shed sounds good. Here are a couple things to mull over:

    1) if you create a raised floor it'd better be raised enough that nothing is going to try to live under there -- mice, rats, raccoons, etc. Like, *really* raised. Frankly if I were you I think I would just use whatever the existing floor is (dirt? gravel? broken concrete?). It will help the birds stay cooler in the summer anyhow. Just pay extra attention to predatorproofing the perimeter (bases of walls) to discourage things from trying to dig in.

    2) are the walls of the pole barn really, er, permeable <g> (like a tobacco barn) or is it pretty solid walled with not much light coming thru between the bits. If it is tobacco-barn airy, then it would probably have enough ventilation for the chickens . You would just want to make sure they have a more-protected area inside there to get away from drafts or blowing rain.

    If, on the other hand, it is pretty solid walled, I wonder whether you might be better off making a 'coop within a coop' -- section off part of the bay, say 8x12, with roost bars in there, so they can get out of the weather and stay warm in the winter, and just close of the open part of the remainder of the bay with strong wire mesh to create an airy outer area. Then you can still have a truly outdoors run, of course, but you will not have so much of a ventilation issue in the coop (especially if you use a droppings pit or droppings boards) AND you will have somewhere really good 'n secure if the chickens can't be allowed into the run some days but you want them to get as much fresh air as possible. If you really wanted to you could always put plastic over the mesh side during the winter.

    Come to think of it, you might want to do that even if the barn IS tobacco-barn airy, because it would be really good for your chickens to have a smaller area to keep warm with their own body heat in the winter.

    3) Look the barn over very very carefully from the perspective of 'what if I were a raccoon' ('...dog/weasel/rat'). Is there anywhere an animal can climb up -- raccoons and possums are excellent climbers -- to sneak in gaps at the eaves? Are there gaps at the bottom of the siding? If there is a foundation, are there holes in it, or if not, what can you do to prevent things from just digging under the sides to gain entry?

    Hope this helps,


    Pat
     
  3. Big_Charlie

    Big_Charlie Out Of The Brooder

    43
    0
    22
    Feb 27, 2008
    Fulton, KY
    I hadn't thought of actually putting it inside the enclosed barn, what I was talking about was building walls between the poles of an open air outside lean-to section. The floor is dirt, but I worry about water getting in there - it's not generally very wet there, but with no gutters on the barn, a big storm can flush some water up under the lean-to a bit. The barn itself is clad in metal, and there are already a couple of holes under the wall where vermin of some sort have dug their way in sometime in the past, and the ceiling height is pretty high inside, where it's only about 8-10' in the lean-to. I'd probably fill in the eaves with hardware cloth.

    Big Charlie
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    86
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Sure, I'm just saying, you might want to just make *wire* walls, so they have as much ventilation as possible, and then build them a smaller enclosed roosting area within that (enclosed to keep out wind, smaller so it's easier for them to heat with body heat in winter). Something to think about anyhow. You're going to want lots of ventilation and it is MUCH easier to design it int he first place than to try to add later!

    The floor is dirt, but I worry about water getting in there - it's not generally very wet there, but with no gutters on the barn, a big storm can flush some water up under the lean-to a bit.

    So, time for gutters on the barn [​IMG] If that's TOTALLY not feasible, like the barn eaves are 25' up in the air and you are not a ladder person and not going to hire a ladder person either, it would definitely be worth seeing what you can do to dig a trench outside of the chicken lean to area, in order to lead the water away rather than flooding the chickens. And/or get some fill gravel brought in (something cheap like roadbase should be fine) to raise the level inside the coop. I truly think that a raised wooden floor on a 12x15 area, unless it is REALLY REALLY raised, is going to be a vermin farm.

    Good luck, sounds like fun!,

    Pat​
     
  5. Big_Charlie

    Big_Charlie Out Of The Brooder

    43
    0
    22
    Feb 27, 2008
    Fulton, KY
    Egh - is there a concrete or dirt floor under there? I've been thinking/pricing concrete in the enclosed part of the barn, all 40x60 of it, and could always pour a little more outside, or put the chickens in pens like yours inside.

    Big Charlie
     
  6. Scrambled Egg

    Scrambled Egg Flock Mistress

    Aug 29, 2007
    Fayetteville, NC
    That is really super nice looking and greatly functional..you did an A+ job there!!
     
  7. Rosalind

    Rosalind Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2007
    Ah, I have a barn which was already sectioned off as you describe when I got it. Bits of free advice:

    -If there are no gutters and wet is a concern, rent a Bobcat for a day or two and re-grade around the barn, dig a trench around the perimeter, then backfill the trench with tile drain pipe and gravel. You will be grateful when your barn completely fails to wash out into the backyard and the sills don't rot out. Costs a few hundred bucks but is an improvement over the other options, such as re-siting and rebuilding a barn after yours has collapsed.

    -I second what Pat said about predators. They will get in unless the barn is like Fort Knox. You may wish to invest in a couple of barn cats, too, although barn cats must be watched carefully around small chickens. They don't generally bother big chickens, well, mine don't.

    -You will find that chickens are highly addictive, because basically you HAVE the room to get more any time you want. You will also find that once you get your first batch o' chickens, you make mistakes: You decide you want some other chickens, some different kinds you didn't know existed before, you find that your interests change from being merely, "get some eggs and have some fluffy pets" to "this breed sure is handsome" to "what's the weirdest-looking chicken I can breed" to "how many different colored eggs can I get." Chickens have a low threshold for the economics of scale--once you've got the basic setup, it's not very difficult to get more, up to a point. Therefore I would recommend you start small, with only as many chickens as you and your immediate family can feasibly use, even if you have the room to get more and your few chickens look mighty lonely with all that space. If you want to get more, or different kinds, or better quality birds than hatchery-quality, you can, and you will still have plenty room.

    I wish I had limited myself to only six hatchery quality birds at the outset, because now I only have room for maybe 16 more, and the 11 hens I have won't lay through next winter. If I had only gotten six last year, and get another six this year, and another six next year, and done a rotation like so, I'd have eggs through about five winters, given the average lifespan of a chicken. Now I'm going to get few eggs during the winter of 2008-9, and probably none in 2009-2010 winter. Know what I mean?
     
  8. Brian

    Brian Chillin' With My Peeps

    387
    7
    141
    Sep 30, 2007
    Jacksonville, ORegon
    Hatchery Quality? Is it inferior? What does a hatchery breeding program do that is poor compared to a private breeder?
    Brian
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by