using an existing fence as wall for coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by hopscram, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. hopscram

    hopscram New Egg

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    Mar 18, 2013
    First post for a new chicken farmer in the suburbs...we just got five pullets (two Norwegian Jaerhons, one Cuckoo Maran, one Silver Laced Wyandotte, and a White Rock). The kiddos love them and they're thriving in the garage brooder.

    We got a great deal on an Extreme Cape Cod Coop at CostCo (had a gift card!) but it's clearly too small for more than two or three full size chickens, so I'm thinking of converting it into a tractor to move around the yard. So now I'm in the planning stages for a coop and looking for some advice.

    We have a fenced side yard where the two sulcata tortoises hang out. The fence is 7' tall with a 5' fence dividing it and the main backyard. I have access to a lot of old cedar fence wood and am thinking about building 7X7 footprint for the coop using the corner of the fence as two of the walls of the coop. There are already three corners of sunk galvanized posts, a concrete footing along one side and 2"X12" scratch pad along the bottom of the fence. My thoughts are to use the DLM on the dirt floor. It seems like this plan would cut down on materials, labor, and costs to make predator proofing easier. Any thoughts on using the existing fence corner as two sides of the coop?

    Also I am hoping that I can get away with the hens free-ranging in this side of the yard (~15 X35'), and be locked in their coop at night. The yard is pretty well protected from over head intruders, a lot of crows out in the day to harass hawks, a lot of established plant/shrub cover, and we have two big dogs in the main backyard. With five hens and this much space, my concern is whether or not smell be much of an issue (with raking and hosing as needed)? It's up against the house and bedrooms, and I have no idea what to expect. We live in southern CA where it's dry and hot.

    Sorry for the long post...been reading a lot already on BYC and my head is full of ideas, already thinking that what started with a flock of five might grow eventually...chicken math.
     
  2. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    Sounds like a good plan so far
    Odor shouldn't be an issue as long as you use enough bedding
     
  3. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I suppose a closed up coop will have smells but anything ventilated will move air and not smell bad. Never had bad smells around my coop. Open sided coops with shade are great in hot weather. During storms with blowing rains, the coop needs to stay dry and shelter the birds. I would add boards along at least the bottom half or so of the fence and have open areas up high. An overhang on the roof may keep rains from getting inside.
    You will enjoy the sounds of chickens with the coop up next to your bedroom wall. [​IMG]
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    What material is the fence made out of? Chain link? A board privacy fence?

    Have you checked to see if you can legally build a coop and have chickens there? A fence corner sounds like it may border a neighbor’s property. Many places in suburbia have restrictions on where you can put a coop if at all.

    In your climate an open coop is a great idea. Heat is going to be more of an enemy than cold. The more ventilation the better.

    What will cause a coop to smell is not it being closed but it getting wet. Poop build-up contributes to that too but even then wet is pretty important.

    I don’t know how much rain you get or how often is sets in wet for a while. In a pretty dry climate it doesn’t hurt wood shavings to get a little wet as long as you have really great ventilation so it can dry out. It really helps to rake it too or just throw corn on it and let the chickens rake it for you. But with it being that close to your house or maybe the neighbors, it will still smell some while it is drying out.

    You might consider sand instead of using the deep litter method. As long as the sand is high enough and the water has a place to drain to, it will dry out pretty fast. It certainly does help a whole lot to keep water out to start with, whether sand or bedding.

    Something I would recommend, a droppings board. They poop a lot while they are on the roost. If you put a flat surface under that or a bin of some type to catch it, you greatly reduce the poop build-up in your coop. You also get some great stuff for your compost pile.
     
  5. hopscram

    hopscram New Egg

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    Mar 18, 2013
    Thanks for the replies! The privacy fence is all cedar and the materials I would build the coop out of would also be cedar fence planks. And I am zoned for six chickens--we're on the corner lot, so the coop would be constructed on the corner where there aren't any adjacent neighbors (plus, all our neighbors are very cool).

    A three walled coop with one wall hardware cloth sounds like a decent idea for ventilation but I am concerned about winter rains making a soggy, stinky mess. I think a solid coop with a 1' strip of hardware cloth just below an overhanging roof might be a good compromise between ventilation and water-tightness.

    My biggest concerns involve the portion of the yard that they would be free-ranging. I am not too concerned about the smell of the coop itself but the yard that they would have access to. Again, it's about a 15X35 space for up to six chickens, mostly dirt, with some trees and shrubs/plants. I wonder if I would be better off enclosing a run to keep the poop/cleaning confined and then let them out on occasion, instead of letting them have full run all the time. Any thoughts would be appreciated...

    That and if there are any critical perspectives on why using the existing corner of an already built fence to build a coop off of would be a bad idea.
     
  6. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ah... Cedar fence. I was thinking that it was chain link. It would be much better to off-set the coop from the fence. This way you will have access to all around the coop and even add vents up high. As Ridgerunner mentioned, a set-back is the general rule for building structures. I would take a look at your neighborhood covenants. I have some type of vent on all 4 sides of coop so that I can close off with a storm shutter if needed. I would for sure have a secure run attached to the coop so that they will have plenty of room and they will enjoy the freedom to go outside and then back into the coop at night. Also great when you are not home. You can let them out in a fenced yard when you are there to watch them. There will be poop anywhere that they are allowed to roam and they love to peck at and eat vegetation!
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    I personally don’t see anything wrong with building it in that corner using the cedar fence as the walls as long as it is legal. There is a pretty good chance that fence is not water or wind tight, so you might look at that part, but in your climate that should not be a big issue.

    I like having a predator-resistant run where they can be confined. There are times where that comes in very handy. That way you could let them roam and see if the poop becomes a problem for you in the rest of your yard. If it does, you have a solution. Keep them confined enough that the poop doesn’t become a problem.
     
  8. hopscram

    hopscram New Egg

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    Mar 18, 2013
    I'm starting to lean toward the enclosed run to have the ability to keep them confined--having options is good and this would be a huge advantage when we go on trips and have to leave the birds for a bit. It would be an initial extra cost but likely worth it in the end. Though, that hardware cloth isn't cheap...

    For the top of the run, I suspect 1/2" hardware cloth is still the way to go, right? We've got rats around the property, and the occasional possum and, perhaps, coon. Might have a portion covered with fence planking to trim costs and provide a measure of shade.

    Still weighing the benefits of using the existing fence for some walls of the coop. I picked up a lot of old cedar fencing from someone replacing theirs. In the end, it might be better to use the existing fence for two sides of the run, and just build the coop off-set in the run.

    Your ideas have really helped sharpen my focus...thanks.
     

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