6.05.2010

Hen Haus - Version 2.0

[Many images, this will take some time to load.]

What can I say, we’re a couple of geeks.
  • “Beta” was the big box hardware store 10'x10' shed, delivered in a flat pack.
  • Version 1.0 was the strengthening of the shed infrastructure with additional lumber, plus the initial modifications of doors, roosts, and added windows.
  • Version 2.0 is the current Hen Haus as it stands.
Here's the breakdown of the coop...

Doors: The original shed doors are solid - well, as solid as pressboard and 2x3's (original hardware) can be. We added latches to the outer shed walls to attach & keep the outer doors open when desired. On the inside entry right is a recycled screen door; had to shorten it to 70”, then used hardware cloth instead of regular screen cloth for durability. The second screen door on the left was made from scrap lumber and various pieces of hardware cloth remnants. There’s a small entrance in the bottom middle of the left door; we’re hoping it's small enough to keep our egg-poaching dogs OUT. If not, easy enough to put in another piece of wood to make even smaller - it would still be plenty big for the chickens to get through. Anyhow, the screen doors swing outwards as well, so the sawdust litter stays in place, and we can easily sweep everything out when it’s time to clean. The inner & outer doors latch snugly together in various configurations, to guard against predators trying to squeeze into the coop from this direction.

Windows: the window covers flip down, as there’s no easy way to have the covers open & stay upright. Plus, with the strong winds we get around here, making the covers into some sort of awning is just asking for them to be ripped off the building, I kid you not. The window openings were cut open with a Sawz-All, and the cut-outs were attached and reinforced with wood, hinges and latches. The window openings, like the screen doors, are also covered by hardware cloth - more expensive than chicken wire, but much sturdier. The windows that go across the length of the back of the coop face South. The wall that has the smaller windows face East, which is the same side that has the second (main) entrance.

Main Chicken Portal: this is the entrance where we let the chickens out in the morning, facing the Eastern rising sun. Currently a manual opening system, but Spouse has plans & parts for a solar-powered automated door (which I’ll make sure he posts when the project is installed).

Inside... Roost & Ramp: the roosts are made from pine rounds (look like closet poles, but less expensive). They thread through 2x4's on the sides of the coop, and are supported in the middle by 2x4’s, attached to a 4x4 upright that is toed-in to the floor. The ramp & “young chicken” roost below the main roost is one piece. It is removable for cleaning, and connects to the main roost via rubber-coated bicycle hooks. Non-skid tape was used on the ramp, and cedar branches roosts. Legs are 4x4’s.

A skylight was cut out of the roof on the East (left) side, and covered with a piece of blue-tinted corrugated roofing. This will provide additional light in the Winter, when the girls are inclined to lay less during the shorter days. It also keeps the inside from looking gloomy. All things in beauty for the ladies!

Laying boxes: picked up a ten-cubicle laying unit at a roadside antique store for a third of what we would have paid for new. The cubicles are roomy: even the Jersey Giant hens have no problems sitting comfortably inside to lay. You can see the east-side entrance in the back.

Food & water: hung from ropes attached to the ceiling, and with the food/water containers attached to the ropes via spring hooks. Easy-peasy to remove/refill. 

Feed storage: on the right of the coop is where the feed is being stored. Still trying to decide if we want to put metal cans beneath the cabinet space for open bags of feed. That same space could also be used for a chick brooder, or to store bags of pine shavings for floor litter. There's a screened door covering the feed cabinet, but there’s also still enough room on top for one particularly determined pullet to fly up & roost. We’ll need to put a wide piece of wood across the top opening to keep her from doing so.

Yet a few more mods are in the queue:
  • A flip-down cover for the front screen door opening. The more breeze we can let into the coop during the summer, the better. Or if the automatic door works out on the East entrance, perhaps make a second one for the screen door...
  • Rainwater gutters, with water directed into an aboveground metal cistern. Rainwater would be used for the animals - much nicer tasting than our mineral-heavy well water. Mmmm, cloud juice!
  • Pergolas/arbors on the East and South sides of the coop, with deciduous vines. This would keep the coop nice & cool in the Summer, but allow sun to warm the coop in the Winter when the vine leaves drop. The vines could be grapes, honeysuckle, or maypops/passionflowers.
Between Spouse’s construction know-how, Uncle’s assistance, and my over-engineered projects, this ticky-tacky shed has turned into one solid coop. And now, after all this construction, I want a compound miter saw. Serslay.

[Addendum: Chickens in photos not scaled to size - except for the one Sicilian Buttercup, these are all seven-week old pullets, just introduced to the coop last night. Still too scaredy to go foraging with the big girls yet.]

6 comments:

  1. Serslay awesome.
    I saw this shed at the lumberyard... but Geoff thinks he wants to start form scratch (!!!!?!!!!)
    Seems you can have plenty of design and build fun sprucing up the ready-made structure, like you guys have done. It looks super.
    How long do you wait before introducing your chicks to your chicas?

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  2. @Natalie: getting the shed from the hardware store is easier, but the materials used are pretty cheap. We spent almost half as much again on lumber to shore it up!

    As far as introducing the pullets: I like to wait until they're fully feathered and prefer to sleep on a roost at night. Then I'll pick a dark night, and slip the new girls in onto the roosts with the old girls. I've read that using this manner makes for an easier transition - each group wakes up and finds the other already there, and so there's less fuss than with a conscious introduction. That said, it seems like the new group tends to keep to itself for a few weeks before it integrates with the older group.

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  3. Lady - you blow my mind every time I read! LOL The only other thing I can say is... y'all are definitely in the right place! I do miss the Hill Country! I really, really miss that Bakery in New Braunfels! LOL

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  4. D.A. makes it sound so straightforward and easy. Adding the extra structural supports was a little tricky since the original supports were 2X3 and we added 2X4's.

    Sawz-alls are wonderful and tend to cut through everything including a fiberglass ladder, I guess. Still dunno how that happened.

    Then there were the roof panels that didn't quite match up. We used enough caulk and spray foam I bet we could've weather-proofed the statue of liberty.
    All in all the result was pretty good.

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  5. High livin'! That looks great!

    HA! And my confirmation word is "pimpin"...I kid you not! Pimpin the chicken haus!

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