Tiny Flock of 2 and 4x4 Scrap Coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by LadyKjo, Sep 21, 2014.

  1. LadyKjo

    LadyKjo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 28, 2014
    Eau Claire, Michigan
    This is our scrap built coop. It's a hideous looking thing (but it has grown on me since we built it), but seems to be working well for my 2 girls right now, so aesthetics aside, it was practical and pretty easy to build. This picture makes it look tilted, but in real life the coop is level and not tilted at all. As is obvious, we are not all that gifted in engineering or woodworking, but we make do :)

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    Front of coop with pen underneath.

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    Chickens foraging in the morning.

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    Front access door.


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    Blank wall. This faces the sunrise in the morning.


    It is basically a 4 foot x 4 foot box on stilts. It's 6 feet tall. We used plywood for the walls, floor and roof (not the nice plywood, but the stranded unfinished stuff), 4x4 posts for the four corner stilts, caulked all the seams, then shingled the entire structure to give it some water proofing capability There's a plastic tarp on there because the roof started dripping in one area. We have since found the leak and caulked it, but haven't taken the tarp off yet. We cut out a door in front for feeding and cleaning access, and cut a pop door in the middle of the floor inside so they could go out into the fenced area underneath using a little ramp. There is a house vent on one side and we cut out a window opening on the back side and used chicken wire to cover it. My nest box is a dishpan bolted to scrap 4x4 for stability and filled with straw. The wood we used was mostly scrap stuff laying around, including some already painted 1x2 scraps we had. The roosts are made of what we had available, in a ladder type design. It's completely uninsulated, but from what I read, this shouldn't be a problem as I have easter eggers which are supposed to be cold-hardy (I hope). I live in Southwestern Michigan, so the winters can get kind of harsh. I enclosed the bottom of the pen with hardware cloth and dug it down about 6 inches to keep predators out. We live on a lake and not far from the woods, so predators were a concern. We have coyotes, racoons, hawks and snakes, although the only thing I have personally seen are garter snakes and black water snakes which hang out by the lake area catching frogs. Occasionally, I see roadkilled racoons and only once a roadkilled coyote, although I haven't seen any live ones and my yard is fenced. Still, I think the hardware cloth is a good choice just in case. I let the chickens outside every morning and out of the bottom pen when I am home so they can roam the fenced yard freely to forage during the day.

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    Chicken wire covered window and vent. Rain leak prevention tarp :)


    I guess since this is the first time I have ever had chickens, that I am worried that the coop will not be good enough for winter. We got the two chicks in the spring after my daughter fell in love with them at the feed store around Easter in April this year. One has just started laying this past week, and the other one looks like she wants to lay, but hasn't yet. I have been reading that the chickens should be able to keep themselves warm in the coop with their body heat and breath, but since there is only 2 of them, the coop is kind of big for them so I don't know if the coop will keep warm enough. I also worry that the window we cut out will let too much cold in, or if I should cover it with plastic in winter. Then I worry that there won't be enough ventilation if I cover the window. I was also thinking to put a shutter/awning on the cut out window (basically a square of wood, hinge it at the top, hold it open via a wire and a hook) so we could shut the shutter if it gets too cold, when it's snowing really badly or raining, etc.

    Another thing we contemplated is putting a small incandescent bulb in the coop, not a heat lamp, but a regular old 60-75 watt light bulb and hang it from the ceiling. The coop is only about 8 feet from the porch, so running an all weather extension cord would work. I just worry that they wouldn't get much sleep, although I could put it on a timer to go off or on, or maybe put a shade on it. I don't want to overexpose them to light, but I do want them to keep comfortable and give them some light with the shorter days that winter brings. I've read there are timers out there that react to temperature but I have no idea what they are called or how expensive they are.

    One of my friends who "grew up on a farm and had chickens" told me to just put a lot of straw in there and they would be fine in winter. I use straw for their nestbox, but I guess using it for coop bedding would work, too.

    Anyway, any ideas on how to improve our make-shift chicken shack? Maybe an outside eggbox access door or should I add insulation in some form? Maybe take the tarp off (although I kind of like the ramshackle look and it prevents any future leaks). Cut another window in the blank side that faces the sun? Any suggestions or comments would be welcome. Thanks!
     
  2. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    Jan 27, 2014
    Central Oregon
    Frankly, I think you've done a bang-up job with the materials at hand...kudos to you!! Do you have a nest box in the coop for them?
     
  3. LadyKjo

    LadyKjo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 28, 2014
    Eau Claire, Michigan
    IWIW60:

    Thanks for the suggestions and kudos! They are greatly appreciated. I know it looks like the feeder is under the roost bars, but actually is it placed a bit over to the side and not under it- the angle in the picture doesn't show it very well but there is a few inches between the roost bars and the feeder and I haven't found any poop in it yet. I have the waterer on the other side in the corner so I could probably just put the feeder next to the water to keep them separated.

    You can't see the nest box, but it is simply a dishpan filled with straw and housed in a little wood frame we cobbled together and put against the back wall. They literally just started laying this past week and we have got 5 eggs already as girls just hit 21 weeks old. Only one is laying, but she took to the dishpan box right away.

    Didn't think about covering the bottom pen in plastic- great idea! I'm sure we have some scrap 2x4's hanging around so I will also do the roosts- I just figured they wrapped their feet around the wood, but I have noticed the don't use the roosts that much, just to peek out the back window, so that is probably why. They seem to sleep under the feeder so the small bars might be the reason. I didn't realize they need a wider roost bar so I appreciate the knowledge.

    I've been wanting to get a little window for the sunny side and you confirmed my feelings on it. I think I've seen them on ebay or amazon or something where all we need to do is cut a hole in the side and screw the window in and caulk it. I'll have to check the prices, but if it's something we can swing, I'll order one and get out the saw.
     
  4. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    Central Oregon
    Your little nest box sounds great and since the one girl is using it the other will follow suit I'm sure. Don't be surprised if you see them both in there at the same time!! Chickens...so funny! Yes! Be sure to replace the roost bar with a 2 x 4 laying flat. Chickens aren't like parakeets/parrots who like to "curl" their toes around their roost. Chickens like to lay their feet flat.

    As for the window.....I WILL PM YOU RIGHT NOW WITH A LINK TO THE CHEAPEST NICEST WINDOW AROUND!

    Talk soon! [​IMG]
     
  5. LadyKjo

    LadyKjo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 28, 2014
    Eau Claire, Michigan
    Thank you! Thank you!
     
  6. Wxguru

    Wxguru Chillin' With My Peeps

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    iwiw60...will you spread the love and PM me that window link? I am hunting windows myself :)

    And LadyKjo....LOVE the ingenuity! We are building a pallet coop ourselves. About 70% pallet and the rest solid store bought timber :)
     
  7. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    Central Oregon
    PM sent just now....
     
  8. LadyKjo

    LadyKjo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 28, 2014
    Eau Claire, Michigan
    Wxguru:

    Good luck with your build! I'm sure it'll turn out great. Our coop took about a month of figuring out what we could use from our scrap/leftover wood and materials but only a weekend's worth of hard labor. Not counting the extra day when I realized that I first used chicken wire for the pen, then read I should use some hardware cloth and bury it in, so that was another 1/2 day of burying wire and wrapping hardware cloth[​IMG]. I still have scars from the hardware cloth, so remember to wear gloves and long sleeves when cutting and working with it, but you probably already know that! I'd love to see photos of your coop when finished.
     
  9. Wxguru

    Wxguru Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 2, 2014
    ARKANSAS

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