Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A new and improved coop

Because of my little chicken problem, my husband decided I needed a new chicken coop. He's an engineer, and great with math, so it didn't take much to see the writing on the wall. At the moment, I have 25 chickens. Not all are permanent. My plan is to sell off 6 of the 7 BLRW chicks, and 2-3 of the preschool chicks. So, I figure I'll have 15-16 permanent chickens.  Even so, 16 chickens will not comfortably fit in our current coop.

He designed a nice coop that will go on the other side of the shed. It is 8'x8'.  The run around it will be approximately 16'x20'. It will connect to the other coop, but with a small door. That way, if I do need to separate groups, it won't be hard. I'll still have my chicken tractor too, which has been extremely handy for growing up chickens- too big to be inside, too small to hang with the big girls.

Here's the foundation of the coop.  It's butted up against our storage shed.  If I'd been there when he started, I would've asked that he raise it up a little bit so the chickens could easily go underneath- have it be maybe two feet off the ground. Because it's lower, I think I'll use chicken wire to block it off so nobody gets any funny ideas about laying eggs under there.

Finished framing, and starting to sheath it.

We bought some vinyl/linoleum to go on the bottom of the coop. I think it'll be easier to clean than wood, and last longer. I bought an 8x12' piece from Home Depot that cost about $50 after tax.  The window you see in the background came from Habitat For Humanity's ReStore, which is a home improvement thrift store. I got the window and a door with the necessary hardware and spent under $10. Excellent!

Here's the completed interior. In the corner next to the feed, I've stapled up some chicken wire, making a "time out" corner for smaller/injured/new birds so that they can see everyone, but aren't in any danger of getting beat up by the bigger birds.

Here's the door to the enclosure:

16x-20x enclosure.  The sides are a strong guaged chicken wire.  When building it, we used pressure treated lumber so it would withstand the elements a bit better. We also dug a trench a foot deep around the enclosure and buried the chicken wire so that digging under would prove more difficult.

The top of the enclosure is a bird netting that I bought on Amazon.  We wove it through the chicken wire and stapled it on really well to the posts around the enclosure and the roof of the chicken coop with NO gaps so that it could support some weight. It is a little loose though, so if something did try to think about crawling on top, it would be more like a hammock or safety net, so extremely UNATTRACTIVE to walk on. I've read that raccoons don't like unsteady surfaces, so I'm hoping that be having a floppy, soft, sinking surface, they won't  try to climb on top. It's secure enough that I'm sure it could take a medium to large size dog. Said animal would be hopelessly ensnared, but the chickens ought to be safe.

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