Sunday, February 3, 2013

The New Coop is Here

A disclosure this was our first real "building" project here on the farm. We learned a lot about what not to do, but a lot of things went well.
And believe it or not the wall is only slightly crooked!
So we finally finished the new coop!  We had been working on this project for some time now, often electing to put things off till it got "warmer."  The current coop was not well enough insulated, well enough lighted, or big enough.  This resulted in us having to keep a heat lamp on to keep the water from freezing, which meant that the chickens were exposed to unnatural light all the time because there were no windows, and they didn't have enough space considering how little time they get to spend outside.  The new coop has power ran to it already and water in the summer (and if we have time to re-dig the line, then in winter too). It has windows for better light and ventilation, as well as it is better insulated, not just one thin layer of 1/4" plywood.  And most importantly, it will have direct access to pasture all summer, not too close to the house. 

First went in the wall, which went up easy enough.  and I am very proud of how nicely the door sits against the studs, and easily swings open and shut.  For the chicken door we just simply cut a hole in the wall between the studs.  We then used 2 2"x4" pieces of lumber we had left over that were longer than the hole we had cut was tall.  We then screwed the two pieces of the wall we cut out to the 2"x4" pieces of lumber to form a ramp for the chickens.  We attached this outside with a few hinges and another hook to lock it closed.

 The nest boxes turned out to be problematic though.  The nest box measures 2 feet wide, 2 feet tall and 1' deep, and sits 6" off the ground (I would make it at least 12"-18" if I do this again).  There are 4 nest boxes in this area leaving a 1 cubic foot area for the nest box bigger than necessary but fits nicely in the space we had. 
The hens are checking out their new favorite place hopefully!

First, we tried to build the nest box using only materials we already had, this resulted in a lot of frustration, and procrastination.  We tried to use small chucks of 2x4s as corner braces but found this impractical and unwieldy. If we had trimmed them down it may have worked but still was more effort and skill than we were willing or able to provide.  In the end we simply broke down and bought some metal corner brackets for about $10.00 at Menards, and we screwed the nest boxes together with ease.
 In the back we cut two small rectangles which we re-attached with a hinge and a hook to lock it closed.  Once the chickens begin laying in a few more months (2-4) we will be able to retrieve eggs without trudging into the coop.  We then finished adding in chicken wire around the nest box to keep chickens in and pests out.

We lastly added 2 hooks into the ceiling for the feeder and water.  Then it was time for the The Great Chicken Migration to begin.


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