So Cal Coastal Chicken Compound

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by So Cal Chic, Aug 16, 2014.

  1. So Cal Chic

    So Cal Chic Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 11, 2014
    Back in June we inherited six lovely ladies from a friend who was moving back to Sweden. This was brought on by our 14-year old daughter, who'd had been wanting (begging, nagging, pleading for) chickens ever since petting and falling in love with silkies and cochins at the fair three years ago.

    So, there we were in May, coming to the last of a slew of construction, landscaping and pool projects: Building a simple shed to store garden tools and miscellaneous leftover tile, paint, etc, fencing off the area to store garbage cans, and install four elevated raised beds and a couple of fruit trees. This area is behind our garage, houses our pool equipment and is currently fenced on one side (our pool is on the other side of the fence), with the retaining wall/bluff one one side and garage wall on the other. All told, an area about 20x50.

    Suddenly, with the arrival of the ladies, our 8x8 shed expanded to an 8x12 shed/coop combo and a 4x15 run. We figure we've got room for two small raised beds to grow veggies from seed while the remainder of the space will serve as an enclosed chicken-friendly yard for free ranging.
    Here's what the site looked like when the ladies were living in their very small Omlet coop and run:

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    Originally, the wood pile was along that back wall (with 25' tall Torrey Limestone bluff in the back ground), but we relocated it because we determined that north wall, which is inset three feet, was the best place to put the run.

    I pretty much dropped everything to fast-track the project and spent the next two weeks researching (stealing) coop ideas, learning about chickens, and rummaging through our building supplies to see what could be re-used/repurposed in effort to keep costs down. Ha! And I was not sleeping at night worrying about their living conditions. Three weeks later, with a design on paper, I sent the project to the contractor to bid while my daughter and I went shopping for doors and windows.

    The coop requirements were to house six chickens, full height with stand up door for easy cleaning, a raised floor on one portion for food and supplies storage, but accessible from outside the coop, nest boxes with exterior access for egg collection, an automatic pop door to make the early and late risers happy, and designed to use the deep liter method. Because the building itself is visible from our pool and entertaining area, it had to be aesthetically pleasing and fit with the Spanish style architecture of the house.

    The bad news that the contractor couldn't start until August meant I had to go another route to get the run built ASAP. I found IBCrazy chicken coops on Craig's list and fortunately he was able to build and install the run two weeks later.
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    The run (2x2s attached to pressure treated 2x4s on the base) is made with double galvanized hardware cloth and has a Tuftex type vinyl roof on a 12' section. The 2x4 base sits on 2' wide piece of hardware cloth anchored to the ground with 6" long landscaping staples. I will seed the perimeter with rye grass after the coop is completed.

    The day the run was installed, my daughter and I broke down a couple of pallets and cobbled together a raised nesting box. Paint was miscellaneous leftovers from our previous home.
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    Not being builders, we didn't measure the door opening before we built the nest box--we just used the wood pieces in the lengths used to make the pallet. And although we have a power drill, the only power saw we own is a scroll saw. Nevertheless, it fit through the door with a scant inch to spare.

    We moved the ladies in that evening. I don't who was happier--them or me, but I finally got a decent night's sleep knowing they were safe and had room to spread out.

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  2. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    My Coop
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    Really nice set up! Very professional looking. Love the nesting box!
    Where did you buy the green footed feeder? Been looking for one like that.
    Thanks,
    Karen in western PA, USA
     
  3. So Cal Chic

    So Cal Chic Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 11, 2014
    The feeder came with the chickens, but my local feed store carries. I agree--it is a nice feeder--the legs have two height adjustments. I'd tell you the manufacturer, but unfortunately the feeder was a casualty of construction: it got a hole in it so we tossed it.
     
  4. RJSorensen

    RJSorensen Chicken George

    I enjoyed reading your story, and am so very pleased for you and yours. The birds look to be cared for and happy, your construction skill seem up to the task you had at hand… I looked at the green feeder as well, I've not seen on like it. Your daughter must be very pleased with her new birds. Nice of you to do so as well.

    Best to you and your birds,

    RJ
     
  5. So Cal Chic

    So Cal Chic Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 11, 2014
    Next up was to source feeders that would give the ladies a clean food and water supply that would last them through a weekend if necessary. Requirements were that the containers had to be off the ground and attached to the walls of the frame run (not suspended from the ceiling because I didn't want to have to deal with an obstacle course while cleaning or catching a hen that needs inspection/treatment).

    After searching BYC threads for ideas, watching a couple of YouTube videos (okay, a lot of YouTube videos), and taking our skills into consideration, I opted for a simple PVC or drain pipe feeder. We had the drain pipe and plumbers glue on hand so it was just a matter of picking up an el, and a pair each of end caps and stainless steel straps. Knowing we'd eventually have an additional feeder inside the coop, we wanted this feeder to hold a two-day supply so we cut a 3' 6" length. We screwed the pipe straps to a length of 1x3 trim from the wood pile and then attached the trim piece to the run to give a 1" clearance for removing the feed tube cap. A little petroleum jelly spread on the inside wall of the cap makes for easy removal. The feeder holds close to a three-day supply for six big ladies.

    Our first go round, we didn't cut the holes big enough, or at least we thought we didn't because the feed wasn't flowing so we enlarged all the holes. The key to these PVC feeders is to cut the hole adjacent to the el as close as possible to the el. (Yes, they do tell you that in the videos--but it didn't stick and wasn't in my notes at time of construction.) When the ladies peck at the feed in that hole, it breaks the dam in the vertical tube and feed flows through the horizontal holes. Probably not necessary to enlarge the remaining two holes because we've noticed there's a bit of waste.

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    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
  6. So Cal Chic

    So Cal Chic Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 11, 2014
    On to providing a clean water source. The metal waterer that came with the ladies had to be refilled daily and they were always kicking dirty into it no mater how big a block of wood it sat on. The new waterer had to be made of plastic so I could add ACV, big enough to hold enough water for a weekend but not take up too much room. Searching more threads, watching more videos, I grew envious of those who had the space and skills to rig fresh water supply through a cooler holding tank. Amazing!

    Facing reality, I found some nice pre-made waterers made with water nipples online, but they were pricy so I held off.

    Reality check #2: I received the contractor's bid to build the coop/shed. After a glass of wine and a family meeting, we agreed we'd all do whatever we could to bring the cost down.

    Needless to say, we made our own simple PVC water tank. I must have been really thirsty that hot summer day in July because 4" PVC pipe didn't seem big enough. I found a 2' length of 6" PVC pipe and stainless steel straps at the local HD, but they didn't have end caps. I found those at Grangetto's down the street (irrigation and garden supply store), and bought a pkg of five water nipples on ebay. We cut the 2' PVC pipe in half and set one length aside to use in the coop if our plan for the run tank was successful. We used two nipples on the tank, screwed the straps to a short length of 1x6 found in the wood pile, and drilled a small air hole in the top cap. Even with petroleum jelly spread on the inside of the top cap, it wasn't easy to remove. I had some brushed chrome drawer knobs left over from our previous home so we put one on the lid. Works like a charm.
    Installed the tanks at the end of the day when we put the ladies back in their run. They took to it pretty quickly, but, as it turned out, PVC glue wasn't strong enough (or we didn't apply enough) to provide a water-tight seal on the bottom cap because it leaked. Some clear calk applied to the inside and outside seams did the trick.

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  7. So Cal Chic

    So Cal Chic Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 11, 2014
    Went to the "Candy Store" to shop for doors and windows. This place is filled with mistake doors, windows, tile, lighting fixtures, and an assortment of items pulled from restorations and remodels. Found two small brown vinyl clad casement windows that were salesman samples. The brown vinyl is a couple shades darker on one window and the other window was missing a screen, but color difference won't be noticeable from the outside because they're on opposite walls. Desperately wanted a Dutch door, but searched high and low to no avail. Found an odd size door (6' tall) with the top half open for glass. Got all three items for less than $300, a score in my book.

    When rummaging for excess building materials in our garage, I found a pair of stained glass windows that weren't used in the remodel of our previous home, and just had to use them. My dad made the frame while my daughter and I got to work sanding and staining the door.

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    DD learns the finer points of using an electric sander under her Papa's watchful eye.

    Concrete poured—yippee!
    DH inspects the work and gives it the OK. There's no turning back now.
    Decided to run a landing all along the length of the coop entrance since all the feed and supplies will be stored under the raised floor, and we don't want to be tracking dirt inside the coop.
    As mentioned previously, the coop shares a wall with the shed. We’d already planned to run electrical to the shed, so adding (repurposed) lighting fixtures, and an outlet to the coop was a no-brainer. The conduit sticking out of the slap (with the red Solo cup on top) delineates the shared wall.
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    After the concrete was poured, things really started moving. Framing was completed, windows installed and the siding went up while we were on a five-day wine tasting trip up in Oregon's Willamette Valley, a beautiful part of the country.

    Came home to roof beams needing to be stained ASAP because the roofer was scheduled to install the roof the next day. The contractor hand cut the rafter tails to match the house. Sweet!

    We had two gallons of “close but no cigar” stain on hand from trying to match stain for a previous project, so we mixed them up with a partial 5-gallon bucket containing the right color and called it good. The three of us spent six hours on Sunday staining beams, rafters, starter boards and trim.
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    We’d planned to build a shed so when we ordered tile for a covered terrace project (completed in February) we had a good mix of extra Spanish clay tile on hand. To save costs (and because I like the way it looks) we did an exposed tile roof. Turns out it has an added benefit of providing ventilation while being 100% predator proof. And 100% waterproof as the contractor confirmed while taking shelter in the shed during a freak So Cal summer thunderstorm. (This shot is taken from a master bathroom window.)

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    Took the plunge and ordered the Ador1 door. We raised it off the floor to accommodate the deep liter method.

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    Naturally curious, the ladies began walking through it during coop construction. Since we knew we had to build a transition from the coop to the run (at that point, still not sure how that was going to work), we installed the door so the programing could be accessed from inside the coop. We understood that this might affect the light sensor, and thus, the time the door opens and closes. Added to that, our home is at the end of a canyon and both the coop and the pop door are on the north side. The door is programmed to open early and close late to compensate for the lighting conditions; however, couple of the ladies have been left out in the run on occasion so perhaps when the time changes, we'll have to install the optional lighting sensor on the front of the coop.


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    The trickiest part of the coop design/build was the 4x4 section that contained the essentials: nest box, perch, poop tray, lighting and storage. Measurements were calculated to the ½” to accommodate the large containers in the exterior drawer where feed, Sweet PDZ, wood shavings and other supplies would be housed so the raised floor wasn't too high for the ladies to get to. The stained glass window was installed as close to the header as possible to account for the fact that we'd be installing a pull out poop drawer underneath the perch, which would run perpindicular to the stained glass window.

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    This is the exterior of that wall finished. As you can see, not much room to spare.

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    The contractors fully insulated the coop, ran the electrical, cut the hole for the storage drawer, put in the floor, and hung the door. Good thing, too. A team of USDA inspectors made an unexpected site visit one afternoon and throughly inspected the new digs. The head inspector, Busy, ultimately decided to lay her egg in the nest box sans wood shavings. The others were easily placated with mint pea ice pops, specialty of the house on hot summer days.

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    The contractor pulled off the job for a couple of days to go fishing, which was great because I was itching to get starting on painting (and he brought us a cooler filled with yellow fin tuna steaks on his return!).

    DD and I rolled on two coats of opaque exterior stain matched to the stucco color on the house. To make it easier on ourselves, we painted all the trim before it was nailed up. Unfortunately, we didn't have nearly enough trim on hand, which made for tedious work when the unpainted trim was installed. Let's just say the 14 year-old doesn't have the best hand eye coordination, which meant a lot of touch up work for me on the back end.

    Then we surveyed the available paint in the garage: seven five-gallon buckets (full or partially full) of varying shades of yellow, all left over from painting the interior of our current house. We selected the color we had the most of ( a low VOC Sherwin Williams Bisque Tan), selected white for the interior trim and got to work painting the coop interior.


    To stay out of the contractor's way, we'd start when he left for the day. For the next week, we burned the midnight oil and ate take out for dinner. The OSB sucked the paint right up, so we rolled two coats, three in some places to get good coverage. All in all, my daughter and I spend about 10 days painting and were plenty sick of it when all was said and done.

    Here's Busy, our Silver Laced Wyandotte, checking out the perch and the poop drawer. We used a limb from a Eucalyptus tree we cut down last year. Initially, we planned installed two limb perches (one 14" off the back wall, the other 12" off that perch, which also determined the depth of the poop drawer), but Busy let us know one perch would be plenty. Ultimately, a tongue and grove starter board was laid along the front edge of the poop drawer, which the ladies use as a landing when they're getting settled at night. It doubles as an occasional perch. Both the perch and the starter board can be removed for cleaning.
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    The poop drawer, with an inch or so of Sweet PDZ in it, easily pulls out for daily scooping. The idea for using Sweet PDZ under the perch was one of several great ideas I got from the BYC community, and a month in, it's working really well. No odor in the coop at all and scooping, done by DD before she goes to school in the morning, is a breeze.
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    With six ladies, I calculated two nest boxes would suffice. We'd observed that even though they had two nest boxes in the run, they were only using one. Each is 14x14, but the third compartment in the nest box is a bit smaller and was planned for storing the poop bucket, gloves and scooper, easily accessible from inside the coop.
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    As it turns out, they prefer the box in the corner and will even stand in line to wait for it, gently cooing to the lady laying inside.

    A removable board keeps the nest box shavings in, and when removed, allows us to sweep the old shavings onto the second floor of the coop. Egg collecting is accessed from outside.

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    The coop is essentially three levels: The first is a 4x4 section to accommodate the stand up door. The board in front of the stand up door keeps the shavings inside the coop (mostly). Stops installed on the side walls keep the board in place and allow for easy removal during clean out.
    The second level, also 4x4 provides access to nest boxes. A second floor landing (a last minute add on) gets them off the ramp and onto the second floor safely, although we find they usually fly up to the second floor and sometimes up to the third and highest level when they go up to perch at night. They use the ramp to descend from their perches in the morning.

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    On the wall opposite the second floor, the contractor devised a ramp that is attached to the wall with hinges and leans flush agains the poop drawer for access to the perch. The ramp lifts up and attaches to the wall with a hook latch when the poop drawer is pulled out for cleaning or the feeders/waterers refilled. The main feeder and waterer are in the run. These are auxiliary, and the feeder is smaller in the coop. Altogether, the feeders hold roughly five days of food and the waterers hold roughly four gallons of water.
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    Once we got the stand-up door to my dad's house for sanding and staining, we realized it came with two sets of stops: one for glass and one for a screen.
    This has been one of the best/nicest surprises because the screen is stationary, but the glass is not. We bought a section 1/4" hardware cloth for the screen and had a piece of glass cut for the window. The hardware cloth is sandwiched between two wood frames. We don't have to worry about daytime predators so the screened coop windows are open all day, but the windows had to be installed on the two short walls and can't be left open at night due to their location (across from and behind the perch). Thanks to the removable glass frame, the coop gets great ventilation through the hardware screen day and night, especially nice during summer when we get cool ocean breezes at night.

    Decided to go with deadbolt handset after reading that one BYC member had their coop broken into.

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    The glass frame is held in place by four clips that swivel for easy removal of the glass frame. We also have a plexiglass frame that covers 75% of the window, which we'll use during cooler months to allow for some night ventilation. The full glass frame will likely only be used during our short rainy season. I credit my dad for these ideas and solutions.

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    The key component of this coop is the storage drawer, which is accessed from outside the coop, and allows for full use of the 4x8 interior space. It measures 36x48--the full depth of the coop. The interior drawer is 26" high and easily acomodates bags of wood shavings and oyster shells. Large containers store full bags of layers mash, scratch, DE, Sweet PDZ, and first aid supplies. Smaller, stackable containers hold daily supplies of each and are easily transportable.
    The contractor had to devise a slide system for it since standard drawer slides are nowhere near 48" long, nor can they accommodate the weight of this drawer when full.
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    A couple of sturdy iron drawer pulls finish it off.

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    Four weeks after starting the coop/shed build, we moved the ladies into the coop. It was a happy day for all of us because they'd been sleeping in a huddled mass in the dirt of the run. It took them a few days to discover the perch and another week to negotiate positions. We added one electrolytes and vitamins to their water during this transition to help them with any associated stress.

    The final piece to the project was building a transition to connect the run to the coop pop up door. With less than a week before DH and I were due to leave on a 10-day trip to Bora Bora (celebrating our 20th anniversary), we still had no way for the ladies to get safely from the coop to the run on their own. And this was not part of the contracted bid. Oh joy.

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    The contractor and I sketched out a plan to make a visually seamless and predator proof transition, and came up with a materials list. DD and I leveled the ground in preparation for a Saturday build and installation. While DD started staining the wood, DH and I went to buy hardware cloth, screws and other fasteners.

    Since the footprint was so narrow, hardware cloth was stapled to the bottom of the 2x4s and covers the entire floor of the transition. Then the walls and ceiling were built and the entire structure was screwed to the 2x4s, coop and run walls. At that point, a was cut hole in one section of the run at the connection point, and a brace was added for stabilization. Although the ladies didn't need the transition to be so tall, we made it tap for easier cleaning. Now that they've started to molt, I'm glad we did because the fathers tend to collect at the end of the tunnel and the height makes it easier to get the rake in there.




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    By that afternoon, with only four days to work out the kinks before we headed out of town, the transition was attached to the coop and run, and the ladies were exploring their new space. Since they were already used to randomly using the pop door they adjusted easily (although during the day when the stand-up door is open, they'll use that door, too.)

    Hopefully before the rainy season, we'll attach the roofing material to the roof of the nest box and the run transition. In the meantime, it turns out out the "tunnel" is a favored afternoon resting spot due to the cool breeze that funnels through the space between the coop/shed and retaining wall.
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    This fall we plan to install a large waist high raised bed and some chicken-tollerant plantings. That will require some more research since they quickly destroyed the existing landscape. For now they seem content to spend the day dust bathing and scratching in the chicken yard.


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    Last edited: Sep 27, 2014

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