Sale Price: $69.99
Sale Price: $209.01
Sale Price: $53.35
~THE FEATHER FACTORY~
The summer of 2009 I decided to start on a new hobby and have some hens as “pets with perks”! To prevent overwhelming my neighbors and my ability, I ordered 5 day-old chicks from My Pet Chicken. I selected one each: Rhode Island Red (Amber), Black Australorp (Lilith), Silver Laced Wyandotte (Wynnie), Buff Orpington (Maisie), and an Easter Egger (Frisbee). The chicks were hatched on August 17 and my adventure began at the local post office two days later. I set them up in a crate in my garage and my husband and I started on the construction of what was to become their home.
After studying books and of course the BYC forum for all the advice and tips and ideas I could cram into my brain, I drew out a sketch of my plans. After many trips to Home Depot and the bank and after spending all my summer weekend days sweating instead of kayaking, the hens are all happily settled in their new home!!
ISSUES I NEEDED TO ADDRESS:
- Aesthetics – Want to keep the neighbors happy so wanted something that wouldn’t make the backyard look like a ghetto and would be easy to keep clean so flies and odors would be minimal.
- Security – Although our property is fenced all around with a 4′ high chain link fence, I have 4 dogs and 3 cats and all of thenormal wildlife predators including coyotes, bobcat, raccoon, opossum, skunks and hawks and hopefully no other creepies that I’m not aware of lurking after dark!!
- Drainage and Ventilation – There is an area of the yard that water flows across during very heavy rains and I needed to address the very hot afternoon sun that hits our backyard.
- Clandestine – I wanted the coop to be as unobtrusive as possible and chose all hens and kept my fingers crossed til maturity. I do believe MPC successfully sexed all 5! At 13 weeks they do seem to be full of all girl cackles.
- Construction materials – I wanted the construction to be something my husband and I could handle on our own, with materials readily accessible, and able to transport with only the aid of one small Pontiac Vibe with a luggage rack.
So with notes, lists and checkbook in hand, we headed out for our first trip to Home Depot.
(At the end of the pictures, there is a description of the construction process in a very simplified outline.)
Here is the first load of many in the construction van!
First we laid out the materials for the start of the walls.
Looks like the crew has quit and wants to play.
Ya just can’t get good help anymore!
Ah good…..the job foreman is here. Now work will get underway again!
Now the frame has been painted with primer and the whole thing moved to a new location. What fun!
Here the smoke gray fiberglass roof panels have been added. They are called SunTuf and were one of the most expensive parts of the design. They were chosen so light could filter in but they would keep it cooler in the summer.
Puzzle pieces being cut and painted assembly line style.
Hatch windows open for ventilation. There is also an opening in the roof of the coop for hot moist air to escape upward. The lower panel is for gathering eggs…..someday!
The interior with roosts, nesting boxes and feeder and waterer. The roosts weren’t planned out very well and there was no poop board under them so this configuration does not work very well as they poop over the feeder.
This will be reworked in the spring but for now, the feeder hangs under the coop in the run area.
Here is their pop door with ramp. The ramp is painted with a sand mix in the paint so it is not slick. I have also since added a pulley for the pop door so it can be opened and closed from next to the egg gathering hatch.
Here the coop is electrified with 2 strands along the perimeter. There is now a strand above the top as well.
There is also hardware cloth extending a foot and half out on the ground with a layer of dirt and mulch over it.
…..and the residents on their day of arrival. It will be several weeks before they move into their new home!
Here they are on one of their early roosts. They seem to love their coop and put themselves to bed all by themselves every night!
Here they are at 8 weeks having a snack in their run.
And here are all five of them enjoying some free time out in the yard. They are growing sooooo fast!
NOW I WANT EGGS!!
Now for the THINGS I WOULD / WILL DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME (oh my gosh did I really say “next time”):
- Keep the coop in the original spot rather than deciding to move it. I could have left it where it was and the drainage would have been far better. Don’t tell DH but I may move it back on pvc “rollers”! A better location would work out better with our new garden area too and one main fence could have kept the dogs out of the garden as well as from running circles around the coop.
- I would have planned out the roosts better so as to be able to incorporate a poop board under them so the hanging feeders/waterers would work out without getting poop in them. I would have spaced the roosts better. WHICH LEADS TO # 3 …………………………………………………….
- DEFINITELY MAKE IT BIGGER!! The roosts would have worked out much better with more room. I don’t know that I’d want more chickens (hahahaha sure I would) but a little bigger coop would have been nice!
The Construction Steps:
- The layout of the walls using 2 x 4’s. Pressure Treated 2 x 4’s were used for the base pieces that are in contact with the ground.
- The basic dimensions: 5’ x 10’ with the enclosed coop end at 4’ x 5’. The floor of the coop is offset up approximately 2’ and the roof slopes from 8’ down to 7’.
- The roof rafters are 2 x 4’s with 2 x 2 strips running the long way. The SunTuf roofing panels are attached by screwing through the panel into a plastic mounting strip that has been fastened to the 2 x 2 strips. The panels are polycarbonate corrugated panels and carry a lifetime warranty and are virtually unbreakable. The roofing was installed with a foot overhang on all sides and all of the open areas under the framing are completely enclosed with hardware cloth to prevent climbing predators from gaining access to the coop or run.
- The siding, window hatches, and trim pieces were all cut and installed. The trim pieces used are 1 x 4’s and 1 x 3’s. The hatches for ventilation are hinged at the top so as to prevent rain from blowing in while still being able to remain open. All hatches are covered with hardware cloth to maintain a complete barrier to predator access.
- The floor and ceiling to the coop area are ½” exterior grade plywood, primed and painted with semi-gloss exterior white paint for ease of cleaning.
- Hardware cloth is attached to all of the run areas and also a wide strip is layed horizontally on the ground running under the base and out approx. a foot and half around the perimeter. This has been covered with dirt and mulch which my Border Collie has done a good job of scattering as she races around and around the perimeter of the coop! Luckily the chickens pay very little attention to her as I guess they feel totally secure in their enclosure!
- With very little exception, the entire structure is screwed and/or LiquidNails glued together rather than nailed. The 2 x 2 roofing strips were nailed down and the trim pieces were glued and nailed.
- The perimeter of the coop/run has 2 strands of electric fence near the ground and one strand around the top to aid in stopping predators from trying to dig and/or climb.
- The ramp has cross strips attached and also is painted with a paint/sand mixture to keep it from being slippery. The screen door has a spring in addition to a latch to keep it closed at all times. The pop door has a pulley system attached and mounted just outside the coop near the nesting box access hatch so the coop can be opened and closed without actually entering the coop or run. This makes it nice in the mornings when I open the coop right before I leave for work and don’t have to worry about taking little goodies in to the office on my shoes!! Sand and poop can cling and travel a LONG way!
- This is a very simplified outline of the steps we followed in building our coop/run. We, or at least I can say I, had a great time designing and building it. My husband was a tremendous help even though it wasn’t his idea of the way he wanted to spend his summer weekends. BUT he did it for me!! It would have been quite the challenge to build on my own but then again….I’m pretty stubborn! I hope you can gain some ideas that will be useful for your project as well.
Guest Blogger: The Adventure Bite Shares How to Build a Chicken Tractor
Kevin from The Adventure Bite:
Materials List & Price Breakdown:
4 2 x 3 x 8 foot studs – 4 @ $2.16 = $8.64
3 3/4 x 10 foot pieces Schedule 40 Electrical Conduit 3 @ $1.88 = $5.64
1 Roll 14 Gauge Welded Wire $37.47
1 Small Roll Hardware Cloth $9.77
1 Roll Poultry Netting (For Small Birds) $18.97
1 Box U Nails $3.46
2 Tee-Hinges 2 @ $3.67 = $7.34
1 Pack #75 lb Zip Ties $4.97
1 Barrel Bolt $2.97
3/4 x 2 ft x 4 ft Pine Plywood Panel We already had some leftover plywood. $15.97 New.
Box of assorted wood screws $8-10
Total Cost To Build- $125.20
1 Gallon BEHR Premium Plus Ultra Semi Gloss Enamel Exterior Paint- $39.98
Total Cost To Build And Paint: $165.18
I am so happy to share this guest post with you all. I hope you enjoyed it!
Master Materials List
5- 52″ Combo/Cattle Panels
2- 48″x50′ ½”x ½” Rolls of Hardware Cloth (3 rolls recommended)
3- 1lb. Boxes of 1 ½” Galvanized Fencing Staples
2 ½ lbs. of loxit rings with tool
4 lbs. of 3 ½” Decking screws
3 lbs. of 2″ Decking Screws
1 lb. of 1 ½” Decking Screws
2- Double Joist Hangers
16′ of ½” Pipe insulation
1-50′ roll of sill plate gasket
2- Heavy Duty Bolt Latches
1 Door Handle
3 Heavy Duty Hinges
1- 12’x16′ Heavy Duty Truckers Tarp (Tractor Supply Company)
100- 1 ½” Galvanized Washers
1 lb. of 2″ Decking Screws
1- 24″x50′ ½”x ½” Hardware Cloth
100- Turf/Sod Stakes
3 ½ inch screws
1. Find center line of both 2″x6″x10’… mark 4’4″ of each side of this center line
2. Attach both 2″x6″x10’s to ends of the 4″x6″x10’s with the 4″x6″x10’s on the outside of the lines. (You should have 8’8″ inside to inside of your 4″x6″x10’s)
3. Level and Square the base. **(DO NOT install inside 2″x6″x16′ joist at this time)**
Cattle Panels- Hoop-
4- 52″x16′ cattle panel
30- 2″ wood screws
2lbs. – 1 ½ inch galvanized fencing staples
1. Install temporary 2″ screws (leaving 1″ sticking out) into the inside of both 4″x6″16’s approximately every 12″ throughout the length of the board. ** Don’t skimp on this step, it will keep the Cattle Panels straight and true until you fasten them. **
2. Starting at the front wall (you decide) place 52″ cattle panel (short wires facing down inside- long wires facing up outside) on screws (the welds will be facing the ground not the sky) that you put into 4″x6″x16′. Now spring panel into the opposing 4″x6″x16′ and also rest onto screws. Make sure panel is all the way up on the 2″x6″x10′ on the front wall.
3. Continue to add the panels. Be sure to keep in mind the last one will have to be notched to clear the 2″x6″x10′ at the rear of the base.
*** Note: if you decide you don’t need a rear overhang/ rain fly at the rear wall, the base and/or panels will need to be reconfigured to keep the hoop within the length of the base.***
4. After setting the panels in, place zip ties 6″ to each side of the center of the panels(at the top) to help hold them in place and straight (move areas if needed to keep panels aligned together). ** Don’t zip tie at the peak; it will need to be seated onto the girder. **
5. Using 1 ½ Galvanized Staples, staple the panels along both 4″x6″x16’s on both the horizontal and vertical wires of the panels every 6 to 8 inches.
*** Temporary Screws may now be removed or driven further in to support panels. ***
2- Double joist hangers
3 ½ “screws
1. Make a mark on both 4″x6″x16’s 8″ from the inside of the front wall. This will be the center of the double base joist you are about to install.
2. Screw 2- 2″x6″x8’8″ together.
3. Rest the 2 double joist hangers on the ground near the center line so that when you install the joist they are already under it. **Do not install hanger yet as you will not be able to spring the double base joist into place. **
4. Measure down 2” on the ends of the joist and notch accordingly so the joist is flush to the 4″x6″x16′ with the notch allowing room for the panel. ** Do not cut panel. **
5. Spring the double joist into place (center with the line). Using 3 ½ “screws secure the 4″x6″x16′ on both ends.
6. Slide the joist hangers into place at the 4’x6’x16’s and screw into place.
7. Notch and attach 2″x6″x8’8” joist to both the 2’x6′ and 4’x6′ on both front and rear walls.
End Walls- (framing)
***Please note: You will be framing the end wall including the headers the same way even though you may be installing a door on one end. ***
2- 2″x6″x10′ (header)
4- 4″x4″x6′ (header posts/ door frame)
5- 2″x4″x8′ (header post stabilizers)
1. Cut each 4″x4″x6′ post to a total length of 62″
2. On one end of each 4″x4″x6′ mark a line at 5 ½ “. Mark this line down the 4″x4″x6′ 1 ½ “deep on the sides. Then back to the end. This is the area you will need to cut out.
** Done correctly, the cut out scrap in your hand should be 5 ½”x3 ½”x1 ½” approximately. **
3. Using the centerline one the end walls (that you used to measure for the 4″x6″x16′) measure 15″ to each side of the line giving you a total of 30″ and mark them.
4. Place the 4 notched 4″x 4″s on the outside of each line. Level and attach them to the inside of the base frame. (they should be setting on the joist you added after the panels)
5. Cut 4 2″x6″s 58″ long. Mark a centerline at 29″. You will need this center line to get the angles for the header.
6. With your board lying flat, from your centerline, put a mark at 21 ¼ “on both sides of the centerline at the top giving you a total of 42 ½ “. From these marks draw a line from the mark down to the bottom corner (58”). Cut these lines. *keep the waste for gussets*
7. Fasten two of the angled 2″x6″ you just cut to make a header. Do this twice, once for each end.
8. From the centerline of the header, mark 15″ to each side. At the bottom of the 58″side you attach the 4’x4′ to the outside of these lines.
9. Center headers with the 4″x4″s and attach it.
10. Check the panels to make sure they are perfectly centered and that the header is not springing it out of shape. You may have to trim the very corner at the bottom of the header so that the panels are resting on it but not under any tension from it.
11. To make sure the angled 4″x4″ side support braces, hold a 2″x4″ at an angle on the face of the end wall from the corner where the header meets the 4″x4″ down to where the inside joist and Cattle Panel meet. Mark, cut, and install these braces.
** If the panels and headers are properly centered, all four braces will be the same. **
***If only installing a door on the front, 2 additional 2″x4″x4’8 ½ “will be required for framing. This will be used at the rear opening to attach the cattle panels to. ***
Center Post & Girder-
4 gussets (the angled waste you cut from the headers)
1. A center double base joist measure from either 4″x6″ to 52″ and mark center.
2. Cut 4″x4″ to 62″ and mount on centerline of Double Joist.
3. Cut 2 2″x6″x8 down to exactly 8′ and screw both pieces together making a double
4. Screw both 2″x6″x10′ together making a double
5. Set the 8′ double girder on top of the front wall header and half of the 4″x4′ center post. The girder should be flush with the outside of the header. Make sure both the front wall and center post are level before securing with screws.
6. Set the 10′ double girder on the other half of the top of the 4″x4″ and over the header of the rear wall. Attach it to the already leveled 4″x4″ center post first. Then level the rear wall if needed and secure it to the header. There will be approximately 2′ of girder past the header. You can cut it off even with the Cattle Panel or just leave it.
7. Install 4 gussets. 2 on each end wall from the underside of the girder and the face of the header. And 2 on each side of the face of the 4″x4” center post to the underside of the girder. These will stabilize the girder even more.
8. Using the 1 ½ “Galvanized Fence staples; attach the cattle panels to the top of the girder.
**If everything is straight, the center wire of the cattle panels should be resting in the crack of the double girder where they are joined. **
**3 per panel should suffice. Do not put a staple within 24” of the rear edge of the rear panel. You will need to lift it slightly in a later step. **
End Walls- Cattle Panels
2- 52″x16′ Cattle Panels
1 ½” Galvanized Fencing Staples
**Do this twice, once for each end wall. ** Horizontal wires on panel facing out! **
1. Cut a cattle panel to 8’7 ½” so that the bottom of the panel rests on the seam of the base/ frame joist and against the front wall framing. Trim to fit radius, and cut out for door of front. Rear also if door on both ends.
2. Take short end and hold from top of girder (just under hoop panel) and cut to fit radius. Cut off panel where it meets the bottom panel. Also, don’t overlap with panels to prevent bulge in hardware cloth.
3. Attach panels after fitting with 1 ½” galvanized fence staples to the framing.
3 rolls- 48″x1/2″x1/2″x50′ hardware cloth
Loxit rings and tool
*** Please note: Follow these steps carefully as the Aesthetics of the entire coop will be affected. This is due to the inside of the roll of hardware cloth being rolled tighter toward the inside of the roll itself making it harder to tighten properly. You can actually get by with 2 rolls of hardware cloth and a 25′ roll, however you are going to find it impossible to get the pieces from the inside of the rolls to lay flat.
Cutting the Hardware cloth:
1. Using Two of the rolls, unroll and cut 2 pieces 16’6″on each roll – leaving 17′ on each roll.
2. Using the third roll, unroll and cut 1 piece 16’6″- leaving 33’6″ on roll.
3. On the first two rolls, unroll and cut 1 piece 9’2″ for top half of the wall- leaving 7’10” on the rolls
4. On the third roll cut, unroll and cut 2 pieces that are 9’2″ long. (one each for the bottom of both front and rear wall)- leaving 15’2″ on roll.
**Put cut pieces aside in steps 3 and 4 for use in the later step of “hardware cloth- end wall”
Installing Hardware Cloth- Top
1. Start first piece of hardware cloth (16’6″) with the outside of the edge of the front cattle panel. Make sure it’s centered side to side leaving extra to fold flat to the top of the 4″x6″s on each side.
2. Sparingly use loxit rings to attach the hardware cloth to the vertical wire of the cattle panels. Starting at the top center, work your way down with the rings using just enough to hold in place fairly tight. ** Do not attach to horizontal wires on cattle panels at this time. You will be tightening the hardware cloth at a later time. **
3. Continue installing hardware cloth pieces 2, 3, 4, and 5, overlapping the each piece with the previous by 4″, using just enough loxit rings to hold in place fairly tight. *Again, only to the vertical wires of the panels.*
4. Go along the outside sides and fold the hardware cloth as flat to the 4’x6′ and the cattle panel as you can. You may find it helpful to use a stiff wide putty knife or flat stock to tuck hardware cloth into the fold where the cattle panel goes inside the 4″x6″. As you get the hardware cloth flat to the 4″x6″, staple it down with a staple gun.
5. Starting at the front wall lay a 2″x4″x8′ on top of the 4″x6″ sandwiching the hardware cloth in between. Using 3 ½” screws, every 12″- 18″ pull the 2″x4″ down tight to the 4″x6″. When properly installed the 2″x4″ will e setting perfectly flat and flush with the side of the 4″x6″. You may have to back the screws out a time or two to get the 2″x4″ properly aligned.
6. Continue to install the other 3 2″x4″ finishing the side. *When you move to the other side you will notice the hardware cloth is now tight to the cattle panels.*
7. Trim off any excess hardware cloth that may be sticking out past the sandwiched edge of the 2″x4″s and the 4″x6″s.
8. Using Loxit rings, crimp them as needed (be generous) to clamp the hardware cloth to the cattle panels. Paying special attention to the seams and rear edge. Keep in mind, when doing the front edge you will be attaching the hardware cloth for the top and the hardware cloth for the front wall to the same cattle panel wire. They can be clamped together with the same loxit ring if desired.
9. At rear overhang, after crimping loxit rings to the last outermost wire on the cattle panel, trim the hardware cloth 3″ past the cattle panel.
10. Notch and remove the 3″ piece of hardware cloth that is overhanging the cattle panel above the girder only (piece is 3″x3″) and discard. *hardware cloth should only be flush with cattle panel above the girder only.
11. Now fold the 3″ overhang of hardware cloth folding it up under the cattle panels throughout the radius. You will now see why you cut out the small piece above the girder, as you can’t fold it there.
Installing Hardware Cloth- Bottom
1. Fold 2 of the 9’2″ length of the hardware cloth 1 ½” at a 90 degree angle at the bottom. This will leave the hardware cloth 46 ½” with a 1 ½” flange.
2. Center and set the hardware cloth with the 90 degree fold out on the top of the base with the 46″ against the wall. Staple to the base then working from the center attach to the cattle panels using loxit rings.
*** Please Note: Keep in mind at the rear wall due to the overhang the end wall hardware cloth will have to be cut and folded to fit inside hoop. Attach to both end wall and top cattle panels using loxit rings. This applies to both the top and hardware cloth. The top rear hardware cloth will also have to be notched and folded so it can be fitted and attached to the rear girder.
3. Attach the top hardware cloth on the end wall beginning at the 1st cattle panel wire below the top of the bottom hardware cloth. There should be at least a 4″ overlap. If not, lower it to next available cattle panel wire on front wall cut 2″ above radius and fold over the top. Light hammering may be necessary. Now use the loxit rings to crimp the hardware cloth and front wall hardware cloth to the corner cattle panel wire.
4. Cut out door opening.
** Be very generous with loxit rings when attaching hardware cloth at end walls, especially at edges of cattle panels. ***
5. At bottom use screws and washers or a flat metal strip with holes to secure the bottom 1 ½” of hardware cloth (you folded out) every 6″ to the base.
*** Check now for any loose or sharp wire/edges throughout the structure (top to bottom). ***
You have now completed the basics of the hoop coop.
There are many preferences to building and installing the door so I didn’t include guidance for this.
Installing the Tarp-
** The use of the 12’x16′ black truckers’ tarp from TSC I highly recommend. **
1. To prevent chafing of tarp, lay 6″ sill plate sealer gasket (50′ roll for $5.85 at Home Depot) on any hardware cloth seam that the tarp will be covering. Staple it to the top side of the 2’x4’s that hold down the hardware cloth.
2. Use ½” pipe installation to slide over rearmost edge of overhang to protect tarp from tears from the rough edges when tucked under and screwed. Gently lift cattle panel from girder to get the pipe installation and the tarp properly positioned. **Remember, no staple with in 24″ mentioned in a previous step. **
If hoop coop is built exactly as this guide describes, you will have 4 anchor points if you desire to permanently attach it to the ground at the corners.
Due to the hard clay in the area, I chose to use the 24″ hardware cloth as an apron rather than digging a trench and installing the wire into the ground.
I added 2 strands of electric wire around the perimeter of the hoop coop just to keep predators from snooping and possibly frightening the chickens.
Optional Winter Boards installed on rear wall…
Huddle Box installed. Please ignore the boards laying on the top, they were later used for the two ramps into the huddle box.
Winter view with a dusting of snow…
This was a very exciting project. Although challenging at times due to the bad weather it was worth it in the end. I will definitely be building more like this one. It is very heavy duty and will stand the test of time. I just hope I don’t need to move it anytime soon.