The first part of the coop was thrown together because rain was on the way. It was either get a section of the coop built and get the roof on it, or everything was going to get wet. Due to the rush, certain things were left off the coop during the first weekend, such as a vent window, the ladder,,, and a few other small details.
March 24 and 25 another door was added to the coop, the egg collection door was finished, the ladder was finished, and a vent window was added.
The second door was cut 24 inches by 24 inches square. The other door which measures 18 inches wide seemed a little narrow. The rugs of the ladder are spaced at 1.5 inches apart. To keep the spacing the same, I used a 2×4 on its side as a spacer. The problem is, 1.5 inches between the boards leaves a large gap for a snake to get through. To hopefully keep the snakes out, 1/2 inch square hardware cloth was stapled to the bottom to the ladder.
The ladder was completed, except for a draw string to raise and lower the ladder from outside the coop. But then again, I am thinking about not using a string and just reaching through the door to lift the gate by hand. Whether a string is used or not depends on how much chicken crap is on the ladder. If the ladder is covered with crap, its getting a pull string installed.
A vent window was added just below the tin roof. The window measures 24 inches long by 3 1/2 inches wide. 1/2 inch square hardware cloth was used to block off the window so nothing can get through it. To reinforce the window, a 2×4 was added to the inside of the coop, then 2 inch long screws were used to go through the 1x4s on the outside, through the plywood and into the 2×4.
The hardware cloth is between the 1×4 and the plywood. Several screws go through the 1x4s, through the hardware cloth, plywood and 2×4. There is no way that hardware cloth is going anywhere. The 1×4 that covers the vent window folds up and fits snug against the tin. To close the window during cold or rainy weather, a 1×4 folds down, then is held closed with a latch.
When the other end of the coop is added, I am going to install another vent window just like this one on the opposite side.
The vents serve two purposes – allow methane from the chicken crap to vent, and for the hot air to rise. Within the next 4 – 5 weeks, or by the first of May, east Texas daytime temps can be in the upper 80s, sometimes even in the low 90s. This means I have to have the coop built and ventilated within the next few weeks.
Plans for the 3rd phase of the coop
Over the past week we have been looking at one side of the coop. After looking at the size of the coop with 3 foot wide hardware cloth, I decided to almost double the other side of the coop. Instead of having the next side of the coop 3 feet wide, I am thinking about making it 6 feet long and 6 feet wide. Well, the coop is 6 feet wide anyway so the width should be a given.
Lets say the next section of the coop is 6 feet long and 6 feet wide, that is 36 square feet, plus the 18 square feet the coop already has, that equals 54 square feet.
54 square feet divided by 13 chickens equals 4.153 square feet per chicken – and that is not counting the 10 laying boxes. If you factor in the 10 laying boxes, that equals 4.923 square feet per chicken.
Its recommended that you have at least 2 square feet per chicken in the coop. With 4.153 that is doubled the minimum recommended amount.
With the coop being 6 feet wide and 6 feet long, I cam buy two rolls of 3 feet wide hardware cloth, put a 2×4 down the middle of the coop and run 2 strands of hardware cloth the length of the coop. Braces will need to be installed very 16 inches – 2 feet to help prevent the hardware cloth from sagging.
The bottom section of the coop will be fenced in with 1/2 inch square hardware cloth.
To help keep dogs and raccoons out, I thought about installing a solar / battery powered hotwire around the edge of the coop. During the day the solar cell would recharge the battery which would in turn charge the hotwire.
How does a chicken coop fit into survivalism
Lets say that some kind of long term SHTF even happens. Trucks stop rolling, grocery stores are empty, a few chickens and the eggs they produce can be an excellent source of protein and other necessary nutrients..
From wikipedia: Eggs add protein to a person’s diet, as well as various other nutrients.
Chicken eggs are the most commonly eaten eggs. They supply all essential amino acids for humans, and provide several vitamins and minerals, including retinol (vitamin A), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, choline, iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. They are also a single-food source of protein.
The coop I am building is designed to be portable. Portable as in being able to load the coop on a trailer and hauling it to the bug out location. I want the coop to not only supply my family with eggs and maybe meat, but also be able to take the coop to the bug out location in the event of a worse case situation.
I do not think its enough to just have “plans”. Those plans should be partially implemented and being tested all year long. Its not enough to stockpile seeds if you never plant a garden and grow your own food.
With chickens, they are my attempt at having food production in place “before” some kind of SHTF / TEOTWAWKI event happens. Lets say nothing ever happens, then my family enjoys fresh yard eggs.