In the early spring, we sent off several of our eggs to a homeschooling family for use in a science project. The kids wanted to compare and record the hatch rate between different chicken breeds. So, they purchased an inexpensive incubator and mothered the eggs diligently for several weeks.
Since chicken keeping is not allowed in their municipality, it wasn’t long before thirteen chicks were sent back to us. Seven of the chicks were our own hens’ progeny; six were purchases from tractor supply after the first batch of eggs failed.
The arrangement worked out nicely for us because we had already wanted to expand our flock. However, more chickens come with implications: more poop, more feed, and, as we will address here, more space needs.
So, plans went in the works to build a new coop that would meet these needs. It would be an open-air coop that would provide more ventilation and access to the neighboring field for free-ranging. (Read: less poop on our porch, less smelly coop, and a reduced feed bill.) It also would be considerably larger than our last coop, easier to clean, and would provide an in-house location to store feed.
When we first got chickens, we inherited an old coop from friends. However, It was large and needed many repairs. My husband, Tim, took it apart and used portions of it to rebuild our first small coop. One portion of the original coop that remained fairly strong and intact, however, was a 6′ x12′ wooden platform that we decided to use as the base to our new coop.
Multiple plans, several pieces of crumpled up graph paper, and a few hardware store trips later, we were ready to begin.
First, we addressed the old base. Tim leveled it and removed and replaced rotting plywood. He also patched any parts of the wood frame that needed it. Then we stained the whole thing for weather-resistance.
(Our little helpers!)
Next, Tim built four walls and a partition wall to frame the coop. This was the part where I said a lot of “yes, that sounds good” and held up the walls while he nailed them into the base. I may not have much building knowledge, but I’m good at holding things up.
Next came the rafters, ridge board, and corner braces. The coop was starting to look like a legitimate small building. A real chicken hotel. My brother in law affectionately told me would could Air BNB it in the DC metro area.
Since this is intended as an open-air coop, only a portion of it will be enclosed. The closed portion will hold chicken feed, cleaning supplies, bedding, etc. For this part, we chose to side it with Smartside siding. It was less expensive and more durable than the T1-11 we were originally going to use.
Finally, it was time to prep the coop for roofing. Tim put up plywood sheathing and trim boards, covered the gable ends with plywood, and installed a drip edge.
Now we are all ready for roofing & finishing! Come back next week for a post on the roofing process, and then soon after for all the finishing touches. I can hardly wait to move to move these birds into their new home!