Welcome to part three of the chicken coop build at Three Acre Paradise. Part one of the build focused on building the foundation for the coop, part two was the main framing. This post is about finishing touches and moving the coop into place, I’ll have some follow up posts in the future with the feeders and watering system (and a chicken run when I get around to building it).
As of the last post the coop has taken shape and has been moved outside as it got too tall for the workshop. The focus now is on features and trim work. In this picture, you can see a few trim boards installed and a couple of others cut and ready for staining. The trim is simply 1×4 lumber (and a few 1×6 pieces) screwed over the stapled edges of the welded wire. For future repairs of any part of the coop it shouldn’t be too hard as most boards are screwed into place.
Inside the coop house I’ve put a divider board in to separate the chicken area from the storage area. The storage will be used for coop supplies and for the water tank for the automatic watering. This view is from the storage side which is approximately two feet deep and four feet wide.
Here is the view from the chicken side. The opening this picture is taken from is the clean out doors, the nesting boxes are on the right, and the chicken entry door is partly visible in the back.
In both previous openings you can see the lip at the top and bottom, these are for the doors to fit flush against. This will help keep rain out of the coop and give the doors something to support against. I also added some welded wire between the hen house and open area of the coop, this is to prevent the chickens from trying to roost up there and potentially get stuck. The same opening to the storage side is blocked off with wood.
The coop is being installed in the shade of some large trees so heat should not be an issue.
Next, here is the coop with trim installed. The small opening at the bottom will be a slide up automated door for the chickens to access their run during the day, more detail on that later.
Now for the nesting box. I didn’t have a real good plan for this so it was designed as I went, one thing I’d do different next time is make the opening a lot bigger. By the time it was built I lost a lot of interior space so it went from a three nest design down to two. The first thing was to build some sides, these were made from thick plywood and attached directly to the coop.
I then added some 2×2’s around the bottom to support the floor.
Then the floor was cut and test fit prior to staining and mounting.
With the nesting box floor in place, I made it so the back could be opened for cleaning. This took some trial and error but here is the result.
Here’s the back flipped open. Note all hardware I used is heavy galvanized, no zinc coated stuff for this coop.
All is going good so far, next is the top. This turned out to be pretty challenging, I wanted to be able to flip it open and latch it up out of the way but that didn’t work out. Weatherproofing took priority so the end result is it can be held up most of the way or easily removed, but it is not hinged. I may modify this at a later time to make it easier to use.
Here is the top piece after being cut and stained. Note the grooves line up with the siding, the little details count!
Here’s another view, you can see it is difficult to make it weatherproof and easy to use. To make it so the top could flip up all the way would require it to be attached to the outside but I prefer it goes up into the coop so water won’t enter.
I put a trim board above the nesting box roof to further keep water out and for aesthetics. The latch to hold the top on was also added at this point. Note all hasps on the coop are twist to lock and if needed I could add something through the lock hole if raccoons became a problem. So far they haven’t.
A shot inside the nesting box showing how the back is secured (opens for cleaning).
Here is the nesting box with the top on and secured.
You may have noticed in a couple of the other pictures that the side door is on. This was built with a 2×4 along the back edge then 2×2’s on the other 3 sides. Some shelf bracket angle pieces (galvanized) in the corners help keep it square.
The hen house clean-out doors and storage doors were made from the pieces that were cut out, that way the grooves in the wood lined right up. Here is the hen house doors mounted and partially stained.
These doors have a piece of 1×4 on the inside as a hinge backer and one door has one in the middle for support. Here you can see the middle piece clearly.
With the door opened you can see both backings.
This is the coop clean-out doors wide open, it makes things a little more clear. At the top and bottom of the doors you can see how they fall into the lip on the coop to help seal. When closed, the doors are flush against the coop sides and blend right in.
This picture was taken before the nesting box was completed so you can see it in progress as well (right side).
This inside shot is after the nesting box was completed, you can see there was a lot of space lost due to the sides and roof of the nesting box structure. Bigger next time!
Doors on, nesting box build, main door ready. We are almost ready to move the coop!
I mentioned earlier about a sliding door on the back of the coop, here is an inside shot of it. For now I can raise or lower it from the outside using a rope, in a future project this will be automated to open at dawn and close at dusk. The door will probably have to be changed quite a bit as it does not slide up and down too easily.
Now, how to move the coop. As usual, I tackled this problem when the time came so there was no real plan until then. The coop is way too large and unwieldy to pick up with just pallet forks on the tractor so the next best idea is to make a dolly.
I used some tires from Harbor Freight, the axles are just threaded rod, and these were attached with some angle iron drilled out. The dolly frame is a hodge podge of 4×4 lumber but it served it’s purpose well. I picked up the other end with the tractor and very slowly drove it to the new location.
To retain better control, the heavy side was the one lifted by the tractor.
When the coop was straddled over the foundation, a little push from the tractor put it right in place. I used some concrete anchors and angle brackets to bolt it down, unfortunately there’s no pictures of those steps. Here’s what it looked like right after the move.
You can see a few chips in the foundation from maneuvering the coop into place but none of them are too bad. This makes a good case for putting dye into the concrete, if that were done there wouldn’t be any need for touch up. All concrete projects I do now have the coloring put right in the mix.
Next step is to shingle the roof. I waited until after the move to do this to avoid damaging the roof and also reduce the total weight during the move. The shingles match the ones on our house, these are leftovers from when it was built.
Shingled installed, just need to do the ridge.
The chickens were already placed in the coop but I noticed at night they all gathered at the hen house door. The interior of the coop is very dark so as an experiment I put a small light in there, that worked as the birds went inside.
For a more permanent solution, I added a solar powered led light. Here is a link to the one I used, I cut off all but one light from the string so the battery would last longer. The solar panel was mounted by the coop door which faces west.
Mounting the panel was simple as it already had a bracket attached, a few wire clamps hold it in place.
Wires were stapled along the interior:
A final wire clamp holds the lamp in place. This has been running for a year and a half now with no problem.
In the future I’ll add a more elaborate solar power system to power an interior light, wireless video camera, door for the run, and water monitor but for now this works well.
Here is a picture inside the coop with bedding in place, note the retaining board added to the front to hold the shavings from falling out. That board is removable to make cleaning easier.
From this angle you can see how the retaining board and coop doors all line up when closed. The coop doors help hold the board in place, there is a beveled board attached on the inside to keep it from falling out.
Hangars for food and water were added to use until the permanent feeders and watering were set up, happy birds!
So there you have it – the coop is fully operational. On this last picture you can see the small rake hanging on the back, this is used for cleaning and herding the chickens around.
Most of the things I’d do different are around the foundation, it would be bigger (taller) and the whole thing would be on higher ground. It has held up well including through some of the worst flooding this area has seen but I’d feel better if it was about six inches higher up. The nesting boxes are smaller than planned but has not caused any problems for our current eight birds.
If I were to do it again, and I probably will make another coop someday, it will be made from concrete. I’d build it as a building that could be re-purposed later or divided up for multiple bird types. This coop cost around $1,500 to make, the one I’d like to have would easily be triple that. That’s a project for five years out, this coop will easily last that long and maybe ten years or more. At a year and a half old now there’s very little sign of wear.
If you are reading this and are in the Brevard County, Florida area please check our Facebook page for upcoming events. We host seed and plant exchanges at Three Acre Paradise a few times a year and also have other types of meetup events here.
Until next time, keep on planting!