antipaucity

fighting the lack of good ideas

the coop (with lots of in-progress pictures)

As promised a few days ago, here’s the Big Writeupβ„’ on our new coop

First, the pictures

That’s a lotta pictures! And I didn’t post them all ?

Some of the key features of the this coop:

  • 6’x8′ exterior floor dimensions
  • the floor’s covered in peel-n-stick vinyl tiles for easy cleaning
  • 12′ roof, which overhangs on the high and low sides by ~2′, and on the other two sides by ~1′
  • 4′ wide, 12′ long roof over the first part of the run
    • both roofs drop ~2′ over the 8′ of the width of the coop – making snow accumulation very unlikely
  • coop’s elevated about 30″ off the ground (makes for easy emptying of bedding material into wheel barrow)
  • pair of 6′ roosting bars
  • pair of 3-berth nesting boxes, with easy access from the outside (way better than the old coop, which mandated opening the door to get to them)
  • 8’x24′ fully enclosed-run
  • plenty of ventilation (including removable window covers on the run side of the coop for use during the colder months)
  • plenty of light – there’s a 2’x6′ skylight on the high side of the coop
  • cleated entry ramp for the chickens to get from the ramp to the coop
  • as close to predator-proof as is reasonable to do
    • hardware cloth over the rear access gates, all windows, and the run door
    • poulty netting around the entirety of the run, with a second stretch of welded-wire over the bottom 30″
    • poultry netting & cedar pickets enclosing two sides of the shaded region under the coop
    • poultry netting or pickets blocking open access to the roof rafters
  • mostly weather-proof location for feeder and waters (partially under the coop on the run side)
  • full-height run access door (was able to repurpose and reinforce an old screen door I had)
  • run anchored against sliding with 12″ rebars driven into the ground around the base

What improvements do know I have left?

  • add water collection system to capture runoff
    • this will also allow for [semi]automatic watering vs schlepping a couple gallons of water a day to the waterer
  • shedette on the back side of the coop (facing away from the house) for food, tool, etc storage

How long did it take?

Calendar time, start to finish was about 3.5 months

Work time, start to finish was about 10-12 days

How much did it cost?

…more than I wish – but less than it could have πŸ˜‰

Seriously, though – it wasn’t horrible: well under $2000 total πŸ™‚

Could probably have saved some more on cost if I hadn’t bought the coop frame materials in July 2021 … but – c’est la vie: it had to be done, so we done did it πŸ™‚

What would I do differently if I knew then what I know now?

First, I wouldn’t have preframed the wall panels – precut all the materials, sure: but preframing the walls turned out to make it more difficult to assemble than I had hoped

Second, I’d’ve accounted for materials better, so I didn’t have to make quite as many trips to my local Lowes ?

Third, I’d’ve made it 8’x8′ so I’d’ve had less cutting of plywood to do πŸ™‚

Fourth, I’d’ve placed the floor cover (whether peel-n-stick tiles, or linoleum, or something else entirely) before mounting the floor to the posts and adding the walls – would’ve been way simpler!

Should you build a coop more-or-less like this one?

I don’t know – he’s on third, and I don’t give a darn!

Whoops – out popped an old comedy routine quote πŸ˜›

If you’ve got the space and the inclination to build it, something like this on your property could be an absolute blast of a project to undertake! I had more fun than not getting it built and ready for the chickens

If you decide to build a coop like this one, let me know! I’d love to see how yours turns out!

If you’d like copies of the rough drawings I made of each part, I’d be happy to share those, too

the new coop

It’s been a long time coming

But the new chicken coop is done

First, let’s rewind the clock to late 2016

We had just moved to our “farm” to be closer to family out of the “big city” (not a farm, and not a big city … but you get the idea)

My father-in-law had some spare hens, so we built a simple pallet coop on a basic frame (some 2by pressure treated runners and a sheet of 3/4 plywood on top for the floor – a couple recovered/reused metal roof panels for the lid), and started our chicken-raising journey

It was great interim coop – and could have been a great long-term coop … if we’d made it double the size

But we only planned to have 3-5 chickens at any given time, so it was good enough…until we decided we wanted more

While it could “handle” 7 or 8, it was tight

During the initial weeks of the pandemic in 2019, I made some improvements to the old coop while we planned a new one – added a window, redid the run door, redid the coop door…basic stuff – maybe a $100 in materials all told

But it wasn’t going to handle more than ~6 chickens for any extended period of time, and it needed to be moved and/or have the run greatly expanded to really manage the flock well

Enter planning for a new coop

Oh

And watching lumber prices go through the roof 😐

While we waited for prices to at least start to come down, we reviewed scores of shapes and ideas – finally settling on a mild variation of a couple that kept popping-up when we’d look

First up was that it be raised off the ground so the chickens would have a shaded and rain-free area to congregate outside their coop, and a shaded and rain-free area for their food and water to be

Second was to ensure it could handle as many as 25 chickens without too many issues

Third was ensuring the run was bigger than the old one, and tall enough to stand under (the old run is only about 5′ at its highest point – making it impossible to stand under if you’re not a young kid)

Fourth was ensuring the new coop could be easily cleaned-out

Fifth was making sure there is more than one way to get into the run if the need arises

Sixth was ensuring the new coop would be well ventilated, and give the chickens substantially more light inside than the old one has

Ultimately, this led to a 6’x8′ coop with nesting boxes in the walls (so they’re not taking-up floor space), an 8’x24′ run plus the under-coop area (an additional 8’x6′ region), a 6’x2′ wall-width skylight, and ample well-screened ventilation windows

My next post will share in-progress photos, an approximate materials list, and ideas on what I’d do differently if I knew then what I know now

a-frame coopettes for raising chicks

We raise chickens.

For the last few years, we’ve only had layers – and they’ve all been full-grown by the time they arrived at our home.

This year, we decided to buy some chicks because our layers are starting to age-out of being able to lay, and we’re interested in trying our hand at raising a few birds for butchering ourselves.

Since you need to wait to add new birds to your flock until the birds are 6+ weeks old, we need a place for them to grow (they were ~8 days old when I bought them).

Here are some pictures of the first collapsible coopette for your viewing pleasure – after which I’ll describe how I put these things together ?

The first one (shown above) was the initial implementation of my idea…in which we decided hinging the access door on the top is less than ideal, and we discovered we need 3 hasps to hold the ends on rather than 2.

Materials used:

  • Pressure treated 1x6x8 fence pickets (bought 29 for both coopettes, ended-up with about 3.5 left over – the second coopette is sturdier (and a little prettier)
  • Half-inch opening, 36″ wide hardware cloth (need ~22′ per coopette; ~30′ if you choose to make bottoms (I opted to not make coopette bottoms this time around)
  • Quarter-inch opening, 24″ wide hardware cloth (happened to have a perfectly-sized piece left from another project I could use on the second coopette door)
  • Staples
  • 1 1/4″ ceramic-coated deck screws
  • 2.5″ hinges (5 per coopette … though I wish I’d gone with 3″ hinges instead)
  • 3″ hasps (7 per coopette)

When folded-up, the sides collapse to ~3″ thick. The ends are about 2″ thick, too.

Total space needed against the side of your garage/shed/etc to store the coopette when you aren’t actively using it is ~3′ x 8′ x 6″, or slightly more than a folding table ?

Construction was very simple – I made the sides a smidge over 36″ wide so that I could attach the hardware cloth without trimming for more than length ?

The ends have a pair of 36″ long boards cut into trapezoids with 30Β° ends, and a butted ~30″ trapezoid, again with 30Β° ends (see photo for detail). The butt joint is secured via stapled hardware cloth (wrapped around from the outside to the inside (see photo), and a small covering inside screwed into both upright pieces. I used various pieces of scrap for those butt joint covers

Wrapping the hardware cloth around the ends was the single most time-consuming (and painful!) aspects of construction. Start with a 36″x36″ piece, laid-out square to the bottom of the end. Clamp in place (these 3″ spring clamps from Harbor Freight were a true godsend), and staple as desired … I may have gone a little overboard on the stapling front ?. On the second coopette, I relied more on sandwiching a little extra fence picket material to capture the hardware cloth, and a little less on staples.

Lessons Learned

Prototype 1 was quick-and-dirty – too much stapling, shouldn’t have had the door hinge at the top, needed to be more stable (sandwich the hardware cloth better)

And two hasps holding the ends on is not sufficient – you need three (one more-or-less at each corner) to really keep the end locked well, and to enable easy movement

Prototype 2 was not as dirty … but moving from fence pickets to 5/4 would be preferable

Likewise, wish I had put enough support at the bottom to be able to put some casters on at least one end to facilitate moving around the yard (to prevent killing-out the grass underneath)

What would I do differently in the future?

  • Make them longer than 8 feet (if you use 5/4 deck boards, buy the 10, 12, or 16 foot variety)
  • Make the sides slightly higher than 36″ to reduce the need for cutting hardware cloth (a very time-consuming task!)
  • Add wheels to one end for easy movement
  • Plan for an suspended waterer (the gap at the top happened to be wide enough to sling on up using a little rope and a couple carabiners – but it easily could not have been)
  • Hard-roof one end instead of using a tarp … or use a slightly larger tarp that would cover multiple coopettes at once instead of small ones that cover one at a time