Wednesday, June 12, 2013

DIY Movable Chicken Coop: Part 2 (It's Done!)

This weekend, I finally finished up the chicken coop. See Part 1 of my adventure here. It took WAAAAY longer than i thought, but as Wife pointed out, doing things the first time always takes longer.
Seems to be a lot of that going around for me these days.....
Anywho, After just getting the nest boxes and the bottom frame complete last weekend, I had a lot to do.
I started off by finishing the bottom frame. This entailed getting the bike tires filled with air, running the axle (a 3/8" by 6' steel bar) through my pre-drilled holes, drilling out some 3/8" inside diameter washers and nuts, threading the bar through the drilled nuts and the bike tires, spacing the extra support beams so the tires stayed in place, then drilling it all together. Whew.
And the first wheel goes on! Threading the steel bar through
the pre-drilled holes AND the bike wheel required
Wife's loving assistance. :)
But wait...there's more!

The washers and nuts helped keep the
wheels a few millimeters off of the frame.
Once the wheels went on, I added the handles to the underside of the frame. I wanted to make sure to properly brace the part where I extended the frame by 2 feet, so I ran some full 8' planks to the middle of the frame, and attached it in 3 different places for added strength.
With the bottom frame 100% done, handles, wheels,
and all, it was time to start the mesh floor.
BTW, I spent the weekend under the free-standing carport. I weren't gunna stand in that sun all the live long day, y'all. Nuh uh.
Next up was flooring. I used hardware cloth for ventilation, and so the chicken poo dropped out of the coop (i.e., no messy, smelly crap to clean up - literally!). I ended up getting some roofing nails for the job, because of the large flat heads. They wrap around the wire, and when driven in a variety of angles, provide a good, stiff outer base for the meshing to hold to the frame.
The hardware cloth provides a mostly solid floor, ventilation, and
a way for "fertilizer"to vacate the living quarters.
I used two full rolls of 3' by 10' hardware cloth, with a very small over in the middle. I tied it together down the middle with some leftover wire, fixing knots every 5-6 inches. It was already pretty taught from the nails, but I wanted some extra oomph to the flooring.
Once the floor was done, up went the walls!
One side was 3 feet tall, and the other 5 feet tall. I needed to adjust my measurements to accomodate the 3.5" bottom frame, and the 1.5 upper section (more later). The metals panels were exactly 36 inches, so I ended up cutting the wall beams to 31" and 55" to compensate for the 5" already spoken for by the lower frame and roof.
I also made sure to add support beams every 3' so I could screw the panels into wood at each overlap. I cut the last one to only a foot, since I had 12' of metal but 10' of wood.
I did need to "borrow" some wood from my leftovers pile.
I accidentally shorted myself two pieces. :P
Next, I screwed down the nest boxes to the frame.
The nest boxes got some much-needed support via
being screwed into the frame.
Then, I took the third rool of hardware cloth to build wheel wells. The wheel wells help make sure that nobody escapes, and no bad guys get in. With a 6" by 6" opening by one wheel, I could totally envision a raccoon or possum sliding in and having a feast. Not in my coop, bub.
Hardware cloth wheel wells provide an escape-proof interior.
I also used a strip of hardware cloth on the upper section of the 5' wall to provide a heat escape for the summer months. I want to cook the chickens on the grill, not in the coop.
The hardware cloth allows heat to rise and escape out.
You can also see above how I angled the roof. I didn't bother to try to calculate anything for that, figuring I'd be off somehow anyway. So I laid down a 2x4 and traced the cuts with a pencil on both ends. Worked pretty well. I did screw up one cut, but that was the saw - not the measuring.
Next, I added some furring strips to the top of the wall frames to add some extra support, and to fill in that upper 1.5" I told you about earlier.I also added some 2x4 and 2x2 sections across the middle for roosting space. I kept it all one height so the chickens wouldn't fight about being higher, nor poop all over the poor ones below.
Roosting spaces also provide walk-up access to the upper nest boxes.
Had to add a water hanger for their liquid refreshment. I put this next to the nest boxes, mostly for my own ease of access. I screwed some wood into the frame, and added a large bolt to hang the bucket over.
The water hanger allows them to, ya know,
drink while inside the coop.
FINALLY! The interior was complete. The frame was up.
It was metal time.
Wife had to help me hold and line up the panels. I pre-drilled some holes, and the added enough screws to hold them in place while I drilled the rest, and them added the screws. The overlaps on the panels fit PERFECTLY with my vertical frame posts, so I didn't have to redo anything.
Measure twice, cut once. There's your proverb o' the day.
The 3' section of metal wall fit perfectly onto the wood frame.
For the roof pitch, I added the two pieces, then cut the metal
with aviation snips along the wood frame line. It was a bit
rough, but close enough (after trimming).
One the lower wall and two side walls were done, I started adding metal to the tall wall.
Notice the hardware cloth providing ventilation.
Once all of the walls were built, I did a happy dance. Just a small one.
I still had the doors to do. And the roof.
The roof was easy. I just slapped the panels up there, add some equal overhang on either side, and bolted the suckers down.
BOOM! The coop was roofed. I ran out of green screws, so I used tan and spray painted.
Shh! Don't tell anyone....
It actually LOOKED like SOMETHING at this point. Something intentional, anyway.
The doors were all constructed using heavy duty hinges, extra wood strips screwed to the back of a 3' by 3' metal panel, and held fast using vertically-aligned gate lock bolts.
The back of a door. I screwed in from the front to attach the metal to the wood,
which provided stiffness needed in a door. Then I attached the hinges to the wood.
The hinges screwed through the metal and into the wood frame for added durability.
The vertical bolt kept the doors from swinging out. The same bolt, applied to
 the entrance ramp on the other side, kept the ramp in place.
Is it a chicken coop yet?
With everything built, we needed to clip the chickens' wings before putting them in the coop. We left them in for two days so they thought of the coop as home and forgot about the chick-u-bator.

We released them into the pasture with the sheep today. More on that in another post!

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