coop and pen plans

I believe it’s past the point of no return. At least in my head. When it hits the planning stage, it’s too far gone.

Chickens are awesome, and I know this because we raised them for many years. But we were younger and I wasn’t quite so anal. I did a lot of dumb stuff, mostly having to do with keeping things from eating our girls, but other stuff too. Still, they seemed to do well despite me, for the most part.

We once had a bunch of young pullets, soon to be layers. They were in a chicken wire pen on a dirt floor INSIDE a barn. Each morning I’d go out and find one or two gory dead birds, and it was definitely concerning. I ended ups catching the vandals with a live trap; three baby possums. Mama was using our barn for their chicken Croissandwich-making .

Babis are fine. I like babies. But this little batch of miscreants had decimated our flock. No bloody details, there’s no need, but they were sent shortly to possum Hell, where I hope they never stopped seeing those two fascinating lights coming down the road again and again.

Point being, I wasn’t thorough, and the baby possums and chickens paid the ultimate price for my laziness and sloppiness.  So I want to think this through with the focus that comes with age.  Wait, that’s not a thing.

Anyway the plans are in the pipeline.  I Photoshopped an internet image into a line drawing that’s close to what I hope to build as a pen, and more importantly, after a lot of idea-shuffling I think that the outhouse itself might be able to do the job as a chicken coop.

The problem with the outhouse (really the only problem, but a big one) is the concrete seat that dissects the place, almost cutting it in half.  I think I can work with it though.  I’m geeked.

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16 thoughts on “coop and pen plans

  1. Looking good so far. For simplicity, you may want to mirror the floor framing to the ceiling framing. It’ll help bolster the whole design as well as making your cut list simpler.

    Have you ever used Google SketchUp before? I downloaded the free version and did my coop in it. A tiny bit of a learning curve, but I worked out all of the potential carpentry issues before buying any lumber. Saved my ass in the end. Check out my post on building a chicken coop, there’s a short video from SketchUp. You might enjoy using that program for this project. And everyone needs a 3D rendering of their outhouse for virtual pooping!

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    • Wow, that is awesome! Both the plans and the end product. I opened Sketchup once to try to lay out a garden plan and immediately said ‘learning curve’ and went back to my old copy of Omigraffle. But for 3d, that might be the way to go. I’m going to try it out now.

      But as far as mirroring the floor and ceiling framing, there won’t really be any framing to the floor, because this is just a run to be covered with chicken wire.

      Thanks for your input!

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      • Just start off by building a simple 2×4. Make a square shape, and use the extrude tool to pull it to size. Then you can copy and paste all of your lumber and slap it together! Once you get the hang of it, you can build that drawing of yours in minutes.

        When moving an object to attach it to another, put the move tool cursor in either the top center or one of the connecting corners to have it snap into place. Then you can lengthen or shorten 2x’s as needed.

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      • Oh, another thing. If you have possums and raccoons or skunks in your area, chicken wire will be fairly useless. A raccoon can rip it like paper. Hardware cloth is the way to go. Raccoons can also work latches like nothing, so a pad lock may be in order.

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  2. Sorry I’m blasting your comments feed, but I remembered something else. There’s also a huge database in the program where people put their drawings on for you to add to yours. Things like hinges can be painstaking to render, so try searching for it on their global search. They even have pre-made 2×4’s! And trees, and pots, and chickens! You name it, someone has built it for you. Plus it’s all free. Okay, I’m done now;) until I recall something else…

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    • Haha, I appreciate your help and enthusiasm James, and I like comments!

      I’ve been putzing with Sketchup for a bit and can see it has great potential. I just don’t dislike my plan enough to learn new software to change it. And as a bonus, I’m really familiar with fixing my own building screw ups.

      Your note about coons is true enough. I know they’re powerful and relentless. I’ll probably use 1″ chicken wire on the run and lock the girls into their house at sunset. A risk, I know, but the old outhouse sits on concrete and was well-built. I don’t believe coons will forage for chickens during daylight.

      Might be dead wrong about everything too. I’m going to do some more obsessing about it.

      If they do figure out how to clean out the coop, they’ll have made a deadly enemy who spares no expense or trouble to bring them and their lineage down.

      Thanks again for the heads up about Sketchup. I may still find motivation to learn some of the basic functionality.

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  3. Good luck with keeping your girls secure. You should see our chicken house .. Chook towers. Think massive doll’s house with roost, and nest boxes. Thankfully nothing in our neighbouhood seems to have acquired the taste for cicken. I have heard that about possums before. We have lots of them here too .. But they seem to prefer our orchard! Take care Dan 😊

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  4. Living in the suburbs, our chicken predators were not fox, possum, and the like, but we still had a predator problem. We used hardware cloth to surround the entire enclosure, including burying it under the floor since many small predators can dig up to 2 ft down to gain access. Happy to say, we never lost a chicken to a predator, unless you count the local county authorities who wiped out the whole flock with the stroke of a pen!

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    • Thanks for sharing that! I’m still waffling on fencing, and every piece of first-hand information helps. We never had predators actually break through chicken wire. Mostly just poorly constructed coops that had structural vulnerabilities.

      My thought last night was pretty callous, but I can be like that 🙂
      Hardware cloth would run more than twice as much as 1″ chicken wire; $120 as opposed to $54 in our case. We’ll only have room for 4 or 5 chickens. The difference would buy a lot of replacement chicks. Harsh, but accurate.

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