Unlike a lot of people that spent Easter weekend going to church and hunting easter eggs, I spent my weekend working on a chicken coop.
Friday morning my wife and I loaded up in the truck, grabbed some lunch at McDonalds, then we went to Parkers lumber in Jasper Texas to get supplies for the chicken coop.
- 36 inch x 1/2 inch squares hardware cloth, 10 foot roll
- Paint tray
- 1 box 1 1/2 inch roofing screws with rubber washer
- Extra bits for the drill
- Skil saw blade
- Exterior latex redwood stain paint
- 14 – treated 2x4s 8 feet long
For 2 of the walls:
2 boards 8 feet long were laid in parallel on level ground
3 boards were cut 6 feet long
The sides of the boards that are going to be exposed to the ground were painted. The paint is for extra weather protection.
The boards were screwed together using 2 1/2 inch long exterior wood screws.
The second board up the wall was set at 34 inches to the bottom of the board. This gives the 36 inch tall wire 2 inches of overlap.
One of the 6 foot long boards was secured at the top of the wall just to hold the 6 foot width for the entire length of the wall.
4 boards are cut 45 inches long, and if possible painted before being assembled.
The 4 boards are cut 45 inches long because they are going to fit “inside” the walls. 45 inches + 3 inches for the 2x4s = 48 inches.
The second section of the coop is going to be 48 inches X 72 inches. Or, 4 feet X 6 feet. This equals a grand total of 24 square feet. The first section is 18 square feet, not counting the laying boxes. 24 + 18 = 42 square feet. 42 square feet divided by 13 chickens = 3.23 square feet per bird.
This 3.23 square feet is “just” the area covered by the hardware cloth. It’s not counting the 5 laying boxes and the perches.
The walls were stood up, the 45 inch long spaces put in place, and everything screwed into place.
Before the plywood was screwed to the walls, the bare section was moved into position so that it could be mounted to the first section. The floor was then framed in with 2x4s.
Once the floor was framed in, 2 spans of 36 inch by 1/2 inch square hardware cloth was laid down and stapled. The staples that were used are 3/4 galvanized. All the the staples were drove in with a hammer.
The hardware cloth was lapped over the end of the wall, bent down and nailed in place. The idea is for the hardware cloth to be clamped between the 2 chicken coop sections.
The two coop sections were moved so that they butted up against each other, then c-clamps were used to pull the two section tight against each other.
Since the two sections were not built at the same exact time, there was minor differences in the various measurements. While one board was flush, another had an offset. The answer was to split the difference. I did not want to start unscrewing boards to work the difference out, so the various offset was split.
Lessons learned so far
After I got the two sections together, one side of the coop came together nicely, and the other side had a 1/2 – 3/4 crack at the top. To close the crack up put stress on the other side of the coop.
Once the crack at the top of one wall was closed up, a piece of 1×4 about 2 feet long was pout over the splice between the two sections. Several screws 2 inches long were run into the 1×4 scab piece to hold the sections together.
After the seam between the two sections was closed up, I noticed one of the coop had a dog leg in it, as it was not running parallel with the first coop section.
It was just one thing after another trying to get the two coop sections together and squared up. One coop section is leaning a little bit to one side, the other coop section is leaning the opposite direction.
I did what I could to get the project finished and the coop opened up for the chicks.
There are 4 things I am mainly concerned with
Security – keep the chicks safe from predators such dogs, raccoons, opossums, cats, snakes,,, and anything else that decides to come along.
Keeping the chickens dry – if the roof does not leak, I will be happy.
Warm in the winter
Cool in the summer
One of the next steps will be to paint the coop with several coats of paint. While most of the lumber is treated, the plywood however is not treated and the boards to cover the vent windows are not treated. To prevent the wood from rotting, my wife and I are going to paint everything.
Something else I want to do is install a solar powered light and fan system, and a solar powered hotwire to help keep predators out.
I am planning in adding a shelf under the laying boxes for the battery of the light system. The solar panel will have to be mounted on the south side of the coop for full sun exposure, but the laying boxes are on the north end. Instead of just running the wire from the solar panel to the battery and charge regulator, I am going to install 1/2 or 3/4 inch PVC pipe under the boards of the coop. the wires going from the solar panel to the charge regulator will then be ran inside the PVC pipe.
Related forum thread – Solar powered chicken coop light
The light system will be a 12 volt light like what is used in an RV.
With using a 12 volt system I do not have to worry about running 110 out to the coop, I do not have to worry about a breaker box and the fire hazard will be reduced.