Back off poultry predators: Building a secure chicken coop


For my first effort at raising chickens, I simply converted an old dog house that I got for free and made a run out of scrap fencing. Doing so, I made the mistake I always seem to make: go cheap at the beginning and pay for it at the end. After 12 weeks of feeding the chickens, I lost 3 to a raccoon (probably) that pulled out 2 fence staples that were 2” inch long.

We have been raising a new brood of Barred Rock pullets, and this weekend I did it right and made a secure, economical coop. Here is how I built it, errors and all, since I am a poor carpenter and my motto is “measure once, cut three times, go back to the store because you are out of wood.”
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Our new Barred Rock pullets

Design

I am tired of ducking my head into a pop door to clean out the coop. So for this time, I elected to hinge the entire roof so it lifts like a chest. The dimensions are 8’x4’ which I chose to minimize wasted wood since it matches the dimensions of a standard sheet of plywood. For the height, one side is 2’ and the other side is 2.5’ which gives the roof a slight pitch. I tried to make it look nice since it is in prominent view from the back deck.

Materials

I spent $120 USD on the following materials, which is a lot but is still less than a prebuilt coop. I put in around 8 hours of labor. It would have been less if I was working solo but I did it with my boys so there was a lot of teaching and fixing.

  • 1/2” plywood
  • Primer and exterior paint (I already had)
  • Corrugated sheet metal for roof
  • Pressure treated 2x4 for base
  • Untreated 2x4 studs for interior
  • Fasteners including galvanized roof nails, 2” galvanized framing nails, and 3” galvanized deck screws (hardware sure has gotten expensive so I used the bare minimum for each stage)

Base

For the foundation, I used the pressure treated 2x4. I originally planned on putting it up on cinder blocks but got nervous about how heavy it would be so I laid it on the ground. I nailed a sheet of plywood onto this ground-contact crib. I painted primer on the ground facing side of the plywood to protect the wood from incidental moisture.
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Sides

I framed the sides using the untreated studs. I used nails rather than screws since I was confident all the sides would reinforce each other once I got it together. I guess I made a measurement error on the base with a slight difference in ends so I had to make the walls to fit this size.

I primed and painted the plywood siding before sheathing in the coop. This was the one smart thing I did. I tacked the painted plywood boards in using galvanized nails.

Roof

I nailed together the frame for the roof and then used scrap ends of 2x4’ as a rest for the roof frame inside the coop. I screwed the hinges in and once I was able to lift the roof frame to my liking I nailed the sheet metal to the frame. I caulked the nail holes and between the plywood sides that didn’t fit exactly flush.

Mistakes

At this point, I had put the kids to bed and I was working in the dark with a headlamp. I was tired and thirsty since we were out of homebrew Hefenweizen. After I got the roof on, I realized I had forgotten ventilation access. With the metal roof and the southern weather, the coop will get very hot even with an open pop door. I went to sleep and the next afternoon I pried the ventilation port off the old coop and drilled a hole big enough to get a hand saw in. I threw some drill holes in around the top too.

New home

The barred rocks pullets now have room to stretch their fledgling wings. I still need to put in nesting boxes and a fenced run. But no rush on these now since I wouldn’t let the pullets out in the run for a few more weeks, and they won’t lay until early spring.

Before and after

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First coop made from scavenged materials, super secure cinder block against door

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Next steps

We made the decision to not harvest the boar raccoon until the winter. Right now, it would simply be a waste since its summer fur is not usable and the meat is likely infested with an unsightly parasite. This is a calculated gamble, but I feel secure enough in the new coop to throw the dice. Next post, I will show you how to make shellfish oil from the scraps of blue crabs we caught to use as a raccoon lure.

Cheers,
Briarch


Comments 3


You've been visited by @minismallholding from Homesteaders Co-op.

I hope this one keeps them safe. It's amazing how crafty and determined some predators can be.


Homesteaders Co-op

A community marketplace of ethical, handmade and sustainable products available for STEEM, SBD (and USD): https://homesteaderscoop.com

follow: @homesteaderscoop

04.09.2019 05:31
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04.09.2019 08:41
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