Chicken Coop Project Part 4

A few weeks ago someone posted a comment on one of my chicken coop videos saying the chickens may fight to get to the highest perch.  After thinking about it for a little while I decided to redo the sloped chicken perch and make all of the perches the same height.

With making the perches flat, instead of slopped, this would also provide more room for the chickens.

Chicken house perch

Friday April 13 braces were installed around the bottom of the coop.  After the braces were in place, 36 inch tall by 1/2 inch square hardware cloth was secured around the bottom of the coop.  3/4 inch hot dipped galvanized staples were used to secure the hardware cloth.  The staples were spaced about every 6- 10 inches, and on alternating rows on the hardware cloth.  If all of the staples are on the same row of wire, there seems to be a lot of slack in the hardware cloth.  Alternating the staples seems to help with the slack.

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Chicken Coop Project Part 1
Chicken Coop Project Part 2
Chicken Coop Project Part 3

Saturday April 14 my wife and I went a birthday party / crawfish boil for a buddy of mine. At the party, my buddy boiled 250 pounds of crawfish. On the side he had sliced brisket, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, sausage, potatoes, corn,,, it was just an amazing feast.

Sunday April 15 is when my wife and I reworked the perch of the chicken coop.  We caught the chickens and tossed them down the ladder and into the bottom section of the coop.  The ladder was pulled up and secured so the chickens could not come back up the ladder.

Two side of the chicken coop were removed.  When the coop was assembled, we used screws on the plywood sides instead of nails.  Screws make removing the sides a lot easier then pulling nails.

Chicken coop roostWhen the roost was installed in the chicken coop, I miscalculated the height of the highest 2×4, and the board ended up in the middle of the window.  The chickens did not have enough headroom to jump up to the highest board. When they did manage to get up there, they had to squat down to look outside.  Also, since the 2×4 was in the middle of the window, I figured the board was restricting air flow.

Sooner or later the perch was going to have to be dropped down, so why not do it while the chicks are still young.

After the sides of the coop were removed, the screws holding the perch were removed, and the perch was removed from the coop.

The support boards were removed from the main 2×4.

The ends of the support boards were squared with a skil saw.

The roost was reassembled with 2 1/2 inch long screws holding everything in place.

I was a little worried about the weight of the perch being supported by screws alone.  So what I did, I cut some 2x4s around 14 1/2 inches long.  The support boards were then screwed to the uprights. The roost was then set in place.

On each corner of the roost, 2 – 2  1/2 inch long screws were run through the 2×4.

This way, the weight of the roost is being supported by a 2×4 and the screws.

Rhode Island Red on Chicken Coop PerchWhen the chickens were let back into the coop, one of the Rhode Island Reds jumped up on the roost and made herself right at home.

With the new design, the chickens have something around 25 feet of perch space.  If this is not enough room when the chickens are grown, I will take the sides of the coop off and add another perch.

Something I noticed, the chicks are spending more time on the perch then with the old design.

With the old design there might have been 3 or 4 birds on the perch at one time.

With the new design there were 9 birds on the perch at one time.

The birds seem to have taken to the new design quit nicely.  They were jumping from perch to perch.  When they were not jumping, they were walking on the 2x4s to get around the new design.

Livestock during SHTF / TEOTWAWKI

My chicken coop project is part of my overall long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI survival plans. Over the years I have heard people say stuff like “if SHTF I am going to get some chickens, a goat and a pig”. The person then goes on and talks about the merits of each animal and how easy the animals are to raise.

Getting livestock during a long term SHTF situation is fine and dandy, but I hope the person has figured out the answer to some key questions.

Where are you going to get the livestock from? If there is a surge in demand for a product expect to see shortages and price increases. I paid around $1.80 – $2 per chick. Could you just imagine what prices would be like if thousands of people were lining up to buy chickens?

A secure place for the livestock to stay. Domesticated dogs will kill chickens for the fun of it. The person will need some kind of secure enclosure to keep the animals in. Could you imagine buying a couple of chickens for the price of 100 rounds of ammunition for each, and then a hungry neighborhood dog killing the chickens? Not only you out several hundred rounds of ammo, but your chickens are dead.

Building materials are going to be in short supply during some kind of long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation.  Do you think you are going to go down to the local hardware store and be able to find everything you need, and at an affordable price?  What about the thousands of people that are looking for the same exact items as you, what about the looters that might have already cleaned out the stores, what makes you think the owner of the hardware store is even going to sell anything?  The owner of the store might keep the materials for his family.

Lets say that you are somehow able to find the building materials, and you have a friend that has a surplus of baby chicks.  Its going to be several months before the chicks mature enough to start laying eggs.  Until the chickens start producing eggs, or get to butchering size, you are going to have to tend to them.  This means making sure they have food and fresh water drinking water.  Do not think chickens are going to find a balanced diet in your backyard.  If you want your chickens to free range, they are going to need access to land with various types of foliage, bugs, seeds,,, to get enough nutrients to grow and start making eggs.

Chickens kept in cages have to be fed specialized diets that have been specially manufactured for the certain dietary needs.  Its going to be almost impossible for someone to throw table scraps into the chicken pen and expect the chickens to get the right balance of nutrients.

If you want livestock during some kind of long term SHTF survival situation, why not put your plans in motion now?  Check the local regulations about livestock, can you keep chickens where you live?  If so, why not go ahead and build some kind of chicken coop and put your plans into motion?

The way I deigned my chicken coop, I wanted one side narrow enough to load in a trailer.  This way the coop is somewhat portable.  If worse comes to worse, the coop can be loaded on a trailer and hauled to the Bug Out Location.  Instead of trying to maintain livestock at my primary residence and at a remote camp, I designed the chicken coop so that it can be transported to where its needed.

The chicken coop I built is 6 feet wide on the inside, and 8 feet long.  Each chicken has around 3.23 square feet + roost + laying boxes.  The bottom of the coop is fenced in with 1/2 inch square hardware cloth.

To access the bottom of the coop, the chickens have a ladder that can be lowered to let them access the bottom of the coop, and raised to secure them at night.

There were 4 things I wanted to focus on with this coop design

Keeping the chickens dry in wet weather

Keeping the chickens secure

Keeping the chickens warm in the wintertime

Keeping the chickens cool in the summertime

The open bottom design is not going to work well in northern regions where people get extreme cold for long periods of time.  Here in Southeast Texas where I live, if the temps get into the 20s we are having a hard freeze.  If we get some cold weather, I will wrap the bottom of the coop with a tarp to block out the cold wind.

My chickens can expect to see more hot weather then cold weather, and that is why the coop was built with an open bottom.