Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Revising and Refining the Coop Plan

Discount Bin Lumber
I visited the big box store each time I ran errands to check on the "scrap bin" for some discount lumber to build the coop. I scored one lucky haul when they had a bunch of pressure treated 2x4's in 4 ft lengths for only 51¢. I snagged about 30 of these to use for the floor of the coop and the outside run. Normal price for an 8-foot pressure treated 2x4 is $3.77.

Although this particular visit resulted in a great score, other visits were not so fruitful. I realized quickly that at this rate, it would take me forever to source all the material to build the coop. I had to figure something else out.

K called several local lumberyards and discovered that the prices on regular 2x4s and plywood were lower than the big box stores (regular prices, not discount bin prices). Still, when it was all added it all up it was quite expensive. I decided to modify my design from a 4x8 walk in shed to a shorter 4x8 design raised up several feet above the ground. This will not only save on lumber cost, but also provide a shaded and sheltered area under the coop for the chickens during the day. Since I won't be able to walk into the coop to clean. There will be a door at each 4-foot end. Cleaning will be at waist level allowing the bedding to be swept into a wheelbarrow from doors at each end.

Revised Coop Idea (subject to change)
Once the outside of the building was revised and deemed affordable, the inside layout was developed. I planned out the inside of the coop using the knowledge I absorbed from my online research and photos shared on backyardchickens.com.

 Most coop designs show the nesting boxes bumping out of the main structure with a hinged lid to access the eggs. I was concerned that these would be cold in the winter and didn't trust that we could make them leak proof. So I decided to keep the nesting boxes inside. A small door similar to what is shown here will allow us access to the eggs from the outside.

The nesting boxes will be along the east side of the coop near the floor of the raised coop. This will make the outside access door at a comfortable level for daily egg gathering. On top of the nesting boxes will be a removable "poop deck" filled with sand or Sweet PDZ that extends along the 8-foot section of the east wall. Above the poop deck will be the roosting bar. My inspiration for this idea came from here.

From my research, sand is a great option for the floor of the coop because it dries quickly and is easy to scoop clean much like a kitty litter box. However, I worry that it will be too chilly for the floor during the cold months. I will try it in the poop deck and see how it goes. A lot of members of the backyardchickens.com forum swear by Sweet PDZ. Sweet PDZ is a stall freshener for horses that is an all-natural, non-hazardous and non-toxic mineral that captures, neutralizes and eliminates harmful levels of ammonia and odors.

With the new design in place, we have begun gathering the lumber, fencing, and hardware cloth needed to build the coop. Sourcing windows will take more effort. I've been checking Craigslist and will visit our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore this week to see what they have. I may go with one window on the south side of the coop door to let in light and hardware screened windows for ventilation on the sides like this.

Coop Footprint
Deciding where to place the coop in the yard was easy. I wanted it near the garden and compost bins. There is a flat area to the north of the garden that seemed just perfect. It will be easy to get to in the winter. We staked it out and laid out pallets to view the footprint the coop would occupy. I like how I will be able to see it from the living room windows and how it will block out the ugly old well in the woods and the house on the other side. The house wasn't there when I first purchased this home and I still don't like seeing the lights through the trees at night. The run will stretch along the north side of the garden. I also will have a "Chicken Tractor" to allow some protected ranging in other parts of the yard and over individual garden beds.

Hopefully we will begin building this weekend.


  1. Awesome post, I can't wait to see it go up.

    1. I think we will begin building this weekend. I have never built anything before and am kind of excited to get to work.