After moving to the country, we decided we needed a coop if we had any hope of raising our own flock for meat and eggs. During the design and construction, the “coop” ended up looking more like a miniature barn. This project has cost more in time and money then originally intended, but we are pleased with the results. There are still a few things that need to be finished, like painting, but here is look at what has been done so far:
I have always loved the look of old barns, especially the ones with the curved roofs for which I contacted the experts at Thompsons Roofing Newcastle who had helped me fix my house roof a few months back. Scouring the Internet for barn pictures, I found a few to serve as inspiration. We were especially intrested in designing the roof of our barn and we even got some great help from The Roof Clinic.
On this bar I liked the two side wings.
On this barn I liked the silo beside it.
After looking at a lot of different barns I drew this one up using Google ScetchUp.
The coop/barn was built as a pole barn and most of the material I used was either reclaimed, purchased from auctions or got for free off Craigslist. Building it this way took more time and sometimes dictated different dimensions based on the material I had, but I like the results and think it was worth it. The overall dimensions of the barn ended up being 14’4” x 24’.
I use our tractor to dig 12 holes for posts 36″ deep to get below our frost line. Finding the right tractor can be complicated, but when you find the right tractor dealer you can definitely come across some good options. I always try to provide the best maintenance to my tractor to keep it running smoothly and in doing that I also use the best parts such as the Mahindra 1526 Fuel Filter .
The ends of each post were painted with a tar like paint to hopefully extend their life against the elements. I also had a great helper for much of the project, she is great at bringing ice water just when I need it.
After all the posts were in place and everything was squared up I filled the bottoms of each hole with a couple bags of concrete. On top of that I packed in dirt to stiffen the entire frame of the building up.
The tops of each of the poles were cut off so each was the same height.
I buried 12” or chicken wire around the entire perimeter of the coop to help deter anything that might want to dig it’s way in for a free meal, we will see how well this works.
On the front and two side walls I will be hanging reclaimed bard wood vertically.
I could finally see what the outline of the building is going to be with the rafters on the side and the floor of the second story. We ran into a bit of a setback however, as some of our wood had termites. We tried to drive the wood back to the business where we got it from but they turned us down. In the end we hired termite control, and they were able to take care of the situation. All in all I’d say we lost maybe a day and half, so it wasn’t too bad, but it was a bit stressful. Thankfully we were able to resume construction promptly.
The three door on the front of the barn and the 7 windows are now framed in and the rest of the building is ready for the siding.
I put a layer of roofing paper on all the walls to make the coop a little more weather tight. Many of the boards I used have many old nail and knot holes which give a lot of character but don’t do a very good job at stopping the weather. I’m still learning when it comes to roofing work and I need this job to be well done, so I hired roofing services. They’re very good, I’ve hired their services before. The good thing about having them work on the roof is I know they’re good at it and I get to watch and learn as well.
Finally the first pieces of barn wood siding, I can finally tell what this thing is going to look like. These boards are probably 100 years old and are as hard as a rock. After smashing my fingers several times I decided I was going to have to pre-drill every hole before I could drive the nails through them.
I put tarps over the sub-floor to protect it from the elements.
The front and the sides are covered by the barn wood. On the back of the coop I used cedar siding that I got from an auction, I ended up running out of the siding near the top of the curved roof so I had to get some Hardy Board siding to finish it up. As you will see later it looks a little funny, but when it is all painted red I don’t think it will be noticeable. We are going to end up with a lot of broken and otherwise unusable wood, but we already hired a dumpster service ahead of time. They’re scheduled to stop by at the date we’re expected to finish with the barn, so we’ll know exactly what we don’t need by then.
On the back it is more noticeable that the entire thing is build on a slight grade. If I were to do it over I would probably find a different location or spend more time grading the site to make it easier to build on. I temporarily put some of the tin roof on the sides to keep out the rain while I build. You can also see the ladder sticking out of the second floor.
The decking on the second floor is one of the few things I purchased new. I had LA hardwood decking installers come and put it in for me.
In old barns that had curved roofs they used bent lamination for the roof joist. I did not have the equipment or materials to do this so I came up with my own rafters.
I used SketchUp to get the curve I wanted, printed it out, then enlarged and transferred those curves to a couple sheets of plywood. I cut out the curve in the plywood template and then cut all the 2×8 pieces to fit the templates. I then transferred the curve to the made up rafters and cut out the curve on all the pieces. At the corners I cut pieces of plywood to hold everything together.
Getting all these rafters in place by myself was probably one of the more challenging things of this entire project.
Once I got all of the horizontal pieces in place the curved roof was very solid. If you look close you can see where I used several shorter scrap pieces to tie the rafters together. It doesn’t look very pretty but it gets the job done.
After attaching the three long pieces of tin I had, I realized why I had originally chosen the dimensions for the coop, and why I probably should not have changed it. You can see I had to use two pieces on the rest of the roof.
I ended up having to find more tin to finish the roof, luckily I found a barn not too far from me that was coming down.
Crawling around on the outside of the rafters and trying to conform the tin to the roof was a little challenging.
Trimmed all the ends of the tin square.
Framed out the windows.
I was able to recycle the sliding door track from a neighbor’s barn that is coming down. I did have to buy the trolley hardware for the two smaller doors.
You can see the upper section are the new siding.
Originally I had intended one side be for the chickens and the other for the ducks. It turns out that the ducks we have don’t like to be kept inside, that may change if we get some more in the future. We are planning on getting some turkeys in June and they will go in this side. We are also thinking someday having cattle and purchasing large animal automatic feeders.
I build these lower walls with bead board that came from an auction. The upper half is covered with chicken wire.
Chicken wire installed and door hung.
On the side for the chickens I build some nesting boxes. I wanted to be able to collect eggs from the back side of the coop without having to go inside, I had originally planned on having doors open on each nest box. While looking around I heard about roll away nest boxes to eliminate broken eggs and ease of collection. I could not find any plans so I came up with these. I build these with a 5 degree slope, we will see if this works or not. I do plan on getting some nesting pads to keep the hens in there to do their job and get out.
This is the back side of the nesting boxes, I will be attaching a lip to catch the eggs as they roll out.
Here are some updated picture of things I have finished. I have the tracks installed for the haymow door. And you can seen in the background the new silo (water tower).
Finally, I have water in the coop, that means no more hauling water out every day. This is a 300 gallon tank I got ant an auction, with it up in the air like this I get plenty of water pressure for the waterers.
I have haymow doors on the front and back for ventilation, and for loading things in. They also make a good place to sit while waiting for the coyotes. I did a lot of looking at old doors to see how they worked and I decided to go with this one that has track and counter weighted doors.
Here is a picture of the chickens enjoying the new fresh waterer.
Since the last update I have added the roosts. I will be adding an automatic waterer to this side as well.
Here is a shot from the inside of the haymow doors. I made two counter-weights for each door and weigh 25.5 pounds each. This makes opening and closing easier.
Here is a shot with the door open.
We now have a chicken size door that will open on a timer.
Here is a shot from the inside of the chicken door, you can see the string that is connected to the top of the door, you will see what powers it next.
I used a satellite dish actuator arm to open and closed the doors, I still need to figure out how a DPDT relay works so I can get it to open and close automatically.
Here is the chicken side of the automatic feeder.
This is the barn side of the automatic feeder, it will hold about 150 pounds of food. I still need to attach a door to the top.
I have cleaned out the middle area, I also installed a ceiling fan I picked up at a garage sale.
I picked up this block and tackle from an antique store, I think it adds character to the place.
This is the bunch of boys who will be going to the butchers this week.