Started construction on our chicken ... mansion!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Englishable, Apr 24, 2016.

  1. Englishable

    Englishable Out Of The Brooder

    44
    7
    34
    Apr 24, 2016
    UP of Michigan
    I've been a longtime stalker fan of BYC, and I've come here so much over the last couple years looking for tips to design the most amazing chicken coop ever! This group, and so many users, has been a huge help. Shoutout to BillT for his brooder box design, Opa for the roll away nest box design, and Rob Bob for his chicken feeder YouTube videos. Now that we've finally started construction, and are getting our first chicks/keats in a month, I wanted to officially join and share our progress!

    We live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (aka - The Great White North, aka - Practically Canada) and my husband and I bought a house on 36 acres last August. I knew chickens would be the first thing we got to get our farm started, and so we ordered Lavender Orpington chicks and Coral Blue Guinea keats (I hate ticks and wasps) in September. Now that the snow is (mostly) gone, we started construction.

    OVERVIEW

    The place we bought came with the original 1911 hand-hewn log cabin, that the previous owner had been using as a sort of second garage. In the photos, you'll see that the previous owners covered the cabin with tar paper, to protect the logs since a few are starting to rot. We decided to build the coop as an addition to the north side of the cabin, and then we'll cover both coop and cabin with cedar shingles.

    The whole structure will be 22x36 - the cabin is 22' wide, so that's what determined the coop width. The enclosed space will only be 22x24 and the end 12' will be a covered run. I know that's small for a run, especially given the coop size, but we are letting our chickens free range. If we realize in a year that 22x12 is too small for the run, we can add on. The structure will be post frame construction, floor will be concrete. Here's my floor plan:

    [​IMG]
    The top is north and the bottom is south. Solid black lines are doors, black outlines are windows (if they are on an outside wall), and the other black outlined rectangles are nesting boxes.

    On the south side is a small porch/storage area, with the entrance door to the east (lower right corner) and the door to the cabin on the south. Right when you walk into this area from the east, the roll away nest box collection area will be immediately to the right. Across from the cabin door is a door into the actual coop area. On the far west side of this storage space is a quarantine/broody area with flat nest boxes, since we DO want our chickens to hatch (some of) their eggs. These will also open from the backside in the storage area, just in case. This way we do not have to go into the coop to collect eggs. There will be a door from the outside directly into the run, for cleaning and quick access, and then the roosts will run along the north side, and we'll have two automatic pop doors opening into the covered run.

    The dimensions of the coop itself gives us just shy of 400 sq ft - enough for 100 birds. In the spring and summer, we'll have meat chickens as well as our laying hens, so we may eventually get close to that number. In the winter, we will have about half that (eventually - we are starting out with 24 straight-run chicks and 30 keats, and will butcher all but the two nicest roosters this fall; I'm hoping we end up with at least 12 hens. We'll probably butcher a few guineas this fall, but keep most of them).

    The biggest design challenge I had was coming up with enough roost space for 100 birds! The trusses will be open to them as well, and I figured the guineas will most likely sleep up there (if we can get them to come in at night ... crossing my fingers). So after playing around with a few layouts, this is what I came up with. They will all be one level (less fighting?) with 15" between them. If anyone has suggestions or ideas that may work out better, I'd love to hear it! It's still early enough in construction that we can change things around a bit.... though the posts are in so we are locked into these overall dimensions :)

    We'll have a cupola, and gable vents on the north end, as well as windows and sliding vents on the east and west sides (exactly like brounii has done here). I was worried about drafts from windows if they were placed too close to the roosts, so we are placing windows slightly away from them, especially on the west side (our prevailing wind comes from the northwest).

    I'll post some progress photos this afternoon, as soon as I get them off my camera!

    I'd love to hear what everyone thinks so far :)

    Oh, I think we'll name this the Kanala Kartano - it's Finnish for The Chicken Manor. My whole family is Finnish-American, as are most people in this area. It's maybe a bit too big to just be called a "coop!"
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016
  2. Firefyter-Emt

    Firefyter-Emt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Wow, that is going to be a pretty awesome set up! We need some photos of this set up!
     
  3. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

    8,357
    3,178
    436
    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Welcome! It's great to have a building as a starting point, and you are making plans ahead, good for you. Is there a way to take advantage of the sun's heat? Open to the north is fine in summer, but your current plan looses all that solar gain, especially in winter. Big openings with hardware cloth for light and ventilation, and plastic sheeting to block winter winds, especially on the north and west sides. It's also good to start smaller and build bird numbers as you gain experience. If you are planning on Cornishx meaties, they are fragile souls who would do better by themselves, rather than in a group of 'normal' chickens. The Freedom Ranger type meaties grow a bit slower, but can run around and cope with life better. Consider roosts on the west side, so the birds aren't going under to get to the run area. I've also got a smaller, very secure run, that works fine, and they free range most days. Mary
     
  4. Englishable

    Englishable Out Of The Brooder

    44
    7
    34
    Apr 24, 2016
    UP of Michigan
    Thanks Mary! The reason we are adding onto the cabin the way we are is it was the easiest and cheapest, as the north and south sides are the gable ends of the cabin, and didn't use up the south side of the cabin (where we plan to add a greenhouse). We are definitely going to cover up the west and north sides of the run in the winter, so they have an outdoor area that doesn't get too much snow.

    We are going to build bird numbers as we go, but decided on the coop dimensions based on the maximum number of birds we envision ever having. The 24 chicks and 30 keats we are getting next month were because those were order minimums. As I said, we're hoping the chickens will hatch their own, and it's these chicks we'll butcher for meat in the fall. That's why I went with Orpingtons - they're dual purpose, do well in our cold winters and tend to go broody. I'm hoping that we'll end up with at least a dozen hens this fall (butchering the boys, all but the two nicest roosters, which we'll keep), let them hatch eggs in the spring, keep only the hens and butcher the boys, on and on, and work up to a point where we have 4 groups of 16 laying hens between the ages of chicks - 3 years. Each fall after the chickens turn three (so that would be their 4th fall), they'll get butchered (stew chickens) along with that spring's male chicks and any extra pullets (keeping 16 of that spring's hens). That way (in about 4 years) we'll always be adding 16 new hens, have 48 laying hens, and then butchering 16 three year old hens, plus those extras. I hope that made sense!

    I tried rearranging this whole thing so that the roosts ran north to south along the west wall; however, it would have blocked the door to the quarantine/infirmary/broody space. I tried rearranging that room then, but because certain things have to be where they are (the door to the cabin & the eastern entrance door - since our house is to the east of the coop.... I didn't want to have to walk all the way around the cabin/coop in the winter to get to their door) I couldn't figure something else out. Also, if they ran N - S, they'd be quite a bit shorter, and so I'd need to add another roost to get the same amount of roost space. Maybe I'm just not seeing the best layout option :)
     
  5. Englishable

    Englishable Out Of The Brooder

    44
    7
    34
    Apr 24, 2016
    UP of Michigan
    Here's a question though: Is there any such thing as economy of scale when it comes to chickens? For example, everyone recommends 4 sq ft coop space and 12 in roost space per bird. Definitely true if you have 4 or 6 birds.... but what about when you start getting into 70, 80 or 100? I've read comments from others on here that all their chickens cram together on half the roosts, leaving the other half empty :) If I had 64 feet of roost space for 100 chickens, about half of which are younger pullets, would that work?
     
  6. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

    8,357
    3,178
    436
    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    You are getting medium/ larger birds, and they will need about one ft. of roost space per bird. Actually more than that, because of pecking order and room to fly to their preferred roost location. Also, four sq. ft. per bird is a bare minimum, and will be crowded during winter especially. I have about five sq. ft. per bird in the coop, and I/3 of them are bantams, and it's cozy in winter! Last summer we had a major run rebuild; it's not roofed, solid north wall, and well built hardware cloth. With plastic sheeting on the lower six ft. of the open sides, it made a wonderful coop setup, with the coop doors open all winter to the run. No crowding, no fussing about snow, and over double the square footage per bird. Fantastic! [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG] Mary
     
  7. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

    8,357
    3,178
    436
    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Your plan sound good, until you fall in love with some of those birds! I keep some forever, especially nice broody hens. Mary
     
  8. Englishable

    Englishable Out Of The Brooder

    44
    7
    34
    Apr 24, 2016
    UP of Michigan
    Like I said before, we definitely won't have the coop filled to capacity in winter. Half full, max (around 7 sq ft per bird). And that's in a few years.
     
  9. Englishable

    Englishable Out Of The Brooder

    44
    7
    34
    Apr 24, 2016
    UP of Michigan
    Some progress photos (pole barn construction):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The next step is leveling the ground and waiting for our trusses to arrive this weekend.
     
  10. Englishable

    Englishable Out Of The Brooder

    44
    7
    34
    Apr 24, 2016
    UP of Michigan
    Got the roof on! Trusses went up and we spent the weekend shingling it. There were three buildings on our property - the house, barn/garage and cabin - and all three had a different type of shingle. And since we didn't know exactly which shingles were used, or if we could even still get them, for the coop we just chose shingles that we liked. So now we have four types of shingles haha. But if/when we re-shingle the other buildings, we'll hopefully be able to use these same ones.

    We still have seasonal load limits on our roads, so the sand and concrete can't come just yet, but that'll be the next step. It's coming along!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by