Thinking of using a little tikes playhouse as a chicken coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by bobcatridge, Aug 23, 2010.

  1. bobcatridge

    bobcatridge In the Brooder

    Jul 29, 2010
    Central California Coast
    We have been trying to plan a coop & run but everything we design costs too much money. I think my hubby has decided he is done with the project so I am on my own on this. He wants me to get rid of the 6 baby chickens in the shower stall. So now I am down to using my daugher's little tikes playhouse that blew down the hill 2 years ago and has never been retrieved. With effort I can probably get the thing up the hill. Anyway, I looked at a bunch of little tikes playhouse chicken coops on this forum and looked at the one on the coop design area. I really think this might work but I have some questions and would appreciate any input.

    Has anyone tried to use the deep litter method with one of these playhouses. My concept is to build a deep pull out drawer and set the playhouse on top. The drawer would be on top of a table so there would be run area under the playhouse. Has anyone tried this?

    We get a lot of wind in the winter although our temperature rarely gets below freezing. That wind is why the playhouse is down the hill. So I will have to attach that playhouse to the table base Any suggestions on attaching the playhouse to the base?

    I was thinking of putting a wooden nest box outside two of the windows. Has anyone had any sagging problems from the wooden nest box being too heavy?

    We have a lot of predators including fox, bobcat, coyotes, possum, hawks, snakes, wood rats/pack rats, etc. I saw one bear about 9 years ago and a mountain lion in our driveway about a year ago. There are lots of deer so I am hoping the mountain lion will stick to the deer. We had one of those rubbermaid plastic bench storage units up against the back of the house to store our bird seed. The tree squirrels chewed through it to get to the seed. I am worried that something may try to chew through the playhouse. Anyone had any problems of this type? I really liked the design of the Chicken Ranch coop on the small coop section of the Coop Design page, but I am concerned with our preydator issues that we need to enclose the whole thing inside a preydator proof run. What do you think? Anyone ever had anything chew through or break into the plastic playhouse?

    It is easy to put the ladder & door in the bottom of the support table but that doesn't allow for closing the door or is there a way to close a bottom access door? I have thought of using one of the windows with ladder as access and closing the shutters to lock the chickens in the coop at night. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    I am still considering the run. I am looking into dog runs but really prefer the wooden option shown on the Coop Design Page. I know I have to trench around the whole thing. Any suggestions?

    Thanks for any help, suggestions, or ideas. This is such a creative group.

  2. ADozenGirlz

    ADozenGirlz The Chicken Chick[IMG]emojione/assets/png/00ae.png

    Oct 18, 2009
  3. ams3651

    ams3651 Songster

    Jan 23, 2008
    NE PA
    Sounds like you have quite a few issues to deal with. With all those predators you definitely want it secure, maybe close to the house, probably dug in hardware cloth and maybe some cement. If your worried about the nest box sagging maybe make it free standing and just attach to the house. As for wind, up here on our hill the neighbors horse shed roof blew off and they were told by and Amish builder to consider strapping it to pegs cemented in the ground. I think putting it up on a "table" is a great idea and if you can close them in at night it would help protect them as well. No real solutions here but just thought I would throw in my 2 cents. I did all mine myself my first time with power tools but I was confident in my ability, its not that its hard to do it just requires planning. Good Luck
  4. bobcatridge

    bobcatridge In the Brooder

    Jul 29, 2010
    Central California Coast
    OK, it took me two hours but I got all the pieces of the Little Tikes playhouse up the hill. It took me another two hours to clean everything up. The problem is there was some damage to the playhouse from being blown to the bottom of the ravine. Some of the plastic connecting bumps that pop into holes on another piece have broken off. This is a particular problem on the door which is completely missing the top bump. Does anyone have a suggestion on repairing these? Thanks. I am going to the hardware store today to see if I get any inspirations on repair.

    We have decided to put up either a dog run with attached hardware cloth or else a 7 x 12 ft wood & hardware cloth run. Then we will put the playhouse inside the run. We can always add a better chicken house at a latter date. My DH is still trying to get me to give away the chicks but I am holding out for the chicken run with playhouse coop. Our biggest problem with all of this is we have no flat land. To use the dog run we need to flatten some land. Doing the wood based run would allow us to customize the run to our terrain. No particular question on this - just an update on where we are at this time.
  5. tasymo

    tasymo Songster

    Jul 24, 2008
    I would reinforce your playhouse with metal "L" brackets, on the inside to help hold it together. That should prevent any critters or heavy winds from pulling it apart. Can you use a metal hinge to replace the broken plastic in the door?

  6. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Quote:I wouldn't have been able to do a THING with chickens had I not found BYC!!!!!!!! Everybody has been SO helpful when I needed assistance and ideas!
  7. ~*Sweet Cheeks*~

    ~*Sweet Cheeks*~ Songster

    Mar 12, 2009
    Medford, Oregon
    The little tikes will work while 6 chickens are small, but it's my opinion it will be too small when they are full grown.

    Do you have a Habitat Re-Use Store where you can buy supplies? My local one has free pallets and lumber for pennies on the dollar.

    I recently bought lattice for $1.25 each to put around the bottom of my duck kennel so the dogs wouldn't grab a beak.

    Bought a large, heavy, solid wood dresser drawer to use as chicken nest box also for $1.25.
  8. bobcatridge

    bobcatridge In the Brooder

    Jul 29, 2010
    Central California Coast
    Thanks for the suggestions. The L-brackets, hinges, etc. are great ideas. I went to the hardware store and discovered plastic socket casters for inserting stem casters into tubular legs. I may try using those although I think the hinge may be a better idea. Gryeyes, it really helped to have the extra information on your set-up. I was glad to hear you were using the deep litter method with the playhouse. I know the playhouse isn't big enough for 6 adult hens. I am checking craigslist everyday for a second Little Tikes playhouse. I figure 2 would be great - just like azmotogirl's 'Duplex' on this site.

    We are still going back and forth on the custom wood & hardware cloth run or the modified dog run. My husband wants to do as little on it as possible except he is a planner and can't help himself but to make detailed costly fancy plans. The problem is that he doesn't have time to do those elaborate plans and we don't have the money for them either. At any rate, during the day I have been putting the now 3 week old chicks in a small dog kennel minus the bottom tray on the backyard grass. I then took the old plastic baby gates and put them up in a circle around the kennel. If I am out back I can let the chicks into the baby gate yard or leave them in the dog kennel if I am not near by. Our border collie/australian shep mix dog wants to herd those chicks. So I have even put her on the dog run near the chick set-up so that she can protect the babies from other predators if I am not in the back yard. I make certain the dog can't wrap the run line around the chick setup and disturb it. Placement is critical. I am not ready to trust the dog unrestrained with the chicks - maybe when they are full grown. Whimsy the dog wouldn't hurt them on purpose - it the over enthusiastic herding I want to control at this stage.

    Thanks again for all the suggestions.

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