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Maybe that helps explain why so many chicken folks build their own coops. To get started, you should familiarize yourself with chicken coop styles, the tools and . This material list is for the coop with dimensions of 3' by 40" by 4' high. . tacked, with the hinge side tight against the side panel, put on your hinges making. Building Chicken Coops For Dummies . Choosing a Coop to Fit Your Needs (and Skills). A-frames and hoops.. Chicken tractors All-in-one coops.
Chicken coops come in many shapes and sizes, but most fall under one of these popular categories: A-frame: Generally among the smallest coops, the A-frame uses a minimum of materials and a space-saving design to house a flock of just a few birds. A compact shelter is attached to a protected run in a long, triangular structure. Most often built with wheels or on skids, a tractor is pulled to areas where the chickens work the soil in the attached, open-floor run.
Walk-in: Often a repurposed toolshed or playhouse, a walk-in coop is large enough to accommodate humans inside the shelter. Many are built with an adjacent run. Circular saw: This portable power tool is essential to coop construction. You may choose to also use a miter saw, a table saw, a jigsaw, and a handsaw for various steps, but a circular saw is almost a must-have. Hammer: Select a hammer that you can swing comfortably.
For large jobs, consider a pneumatic nailer. If your drill is cordless, have a spare battery charged and ready to go to keep the job moving. Tin snips: Just about every chicken coop on the planet uses some sort of wire mesh somewhere in its design. But, the problem is, not all of them are good enough to follow. Most of them are either too hard to build or don't have detailed plans.
That's why I created this article. I gathered 61 of the best-looking, easiest-to-build, or the cheapest chicken coop plan available so YOU too can build it by yourself. A coop isn't just a shelter, it's a house where your chickens live. Just like a human's house, the happiness and healthiness of your chickens highly influenced by the coop.
Hooking up electricity Running an electrical line to a chicken coop is an expense that many caretakers are reluctant to consider. Flocking to Your Own Chicken Coop 17 you might think so, too.
From simple task lighting to space heaters to turbine fans that exhaust stale air, electricity can spark all kinds of ways to make your coop cleaner, better, and easier to maintain. Messing around with wiring, though, is a potentially dangerous endeavor for many weekend warriors. If you like the idea of having juice in your coop, think about hiring a professional electrician to take care of it. Chapters 12 through 16 contain full materials lists, cut lists, and assembly instructions — all with detailed illustrations to guide you through each cut and every connection.
It uses basic pieces of lumber and requires only simple straight-line cuts — and as few of both as humanly possible.
Another small coop, for two to four birds, the plan in Chapter 13 requires even less material to build the shelter, thanks to an A-frame design. A hinged roof panel allows easy caretaker access. A square-foot run is attached to this self-contained coop, and attractive exterior siding makes it a nice addition to the landscape. Specifically designed to be relocated around your property via a heavy tow chain, this coop featured in Chapter 14 incorporates a shelter that accommodates two or three birds and a square-foot run in a portable unit.
Part of the run extends underneath the elevated shelter to provide your hens a shady spot to chill out on hot summer days. Combining the best features of all coop styles, this coop shown in Chapter 15 is small enough to be portable, yet tall enough that the caretaker can step into the attached run and stand upright.
The shelter can accommodate four to six chickens, yet occupies a smaller footprint than the Alpine A-Frame coop. Our largest coop shown in Chapter 16 is for chicken owners who want to start out with a big flock or just increase their existing bird count. The 8-xfoot shelter can house up to 30 birds at once or fewer birds with some storage space leftover!
Or something like that. But seriously, do you really need a chicken coop for your backyard flock? Humans were keeping chickens long before they started building little houses for them.
So why is dedicated housing even necessary? Technically speaking, a chicken owner could let a bunch of hens fend for themselves with no coop whatsoever.
For almost every one of us, no matter where we live, having some sort of housing is a prerequisite to keeping chickens. A toolshed, an outgrown playhouse, or even a repurposed doghouse can easily be retrofitted with a roost and a nest box and turned into a darn fine chicken coop.
But for a large number of chicken-owners and maybe most , the desire to keep a backyard flock comes hand-in-wing with an urge to construct a coop. Chalk it up to the pioneering, self-sufficient streak that runs a mile wide in most folks who decide to get into chickens as a hobby, but for many, getting out there with a bunch of tools and building a personalized, one-of-a kind shelter is one of the best parts of the whole chicken-raising endeavor.
Coops come in all different shapes, sizes, layouts, and configurations. All chicken coops, whether improvised, assembled from a prefab kit, or constructed from scratch, must meet some elemental requirements.
And there are several factors that you must consider before making any decision on a coop in your own backyard. This chapter runs down those requirements and considerations, and points out how a few common coop styles stack up. All Cooped Up Providing Basic Benefits with Your Coop Whether the coop you have pictured in your mind is a basic box cobbled together from some scrap wood or an enormous architectural masterpiece with its own zip code, a coop must provide the following: A chicken coop, at its most basic, is a shelter from the elements.
Their coop is where they go to be protected from whatever Mother Nature dishes out. Raccoons and opossums are prevalent chicken-hunters.
Foxes and coyotes are more common than you might think. Hawks and owls can bring terror from the sky. In some regions, snakes, cougars, bobcats, and even alligators are a big problem.
But the biggest nuisance to chicken-kind?
Fido, Rover, and Spot. Dogs love to chase chickens, and they typically end the chase with a kill. Even domestic pet dogs, no matter how well-behaved or mild-mannered, will often make short work of a backyard flock if given the chance. A coop not only keeps your chickens in, it keeps these predators out. Remember that tiny one-bedroom efficiency apartment you suffered in through senior year of college? A good rule of thumb is 2 to 4 square feet of floor space inside the shelter per adult chicken; this amount of space allows chickens to strut about normally, flap their wings, and socialize properly with their coopmates.
While some coop-builders like to incorporate electrical lighting for their own needs and convenience as described in Chapter 11 , most large coops simply have a window or two to let the sun shine in.
Fresh air is a necessity. The ammonia-saturated air that results is bad for your chickens and can lead to respiratory illness, not to mention mold and mildew, and just a general unpleasantness about your coop. Chickens like things tidy. Check out Chapter 4 for more on flooring materials you may want to consider. Analyzing the Anatomy of a Coop Even though coops come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, with special amenities and added quirks as varied as the chicken-owners who build them, there are a few basic features that every chicken shelter should have.
A roost is where your chicken will sleep. True free-range chickens in the wild find a tree branch to perch on each night to sleep. This offers them protection from non-climbing predators, and a branch under the canopy of a tree can provide cover from hungry owls and nasty weather.
Figure All Cooped Up Roosts are explored more in-depth in Chapter 9, but for now, aim for giving each bird at least 12 inches of roost. Your roost or roosts should be as high as possible inside the coop while still allowing your chickens to sit fully upright on it.
Also, realize that the area directly under the roost will collect the greatest concentration of droppings, so plan accordingly. A nest box see Figure is exactly that: Chapter 9 offers step-by-step directions on building your own nest boxes, but keep a few general rules in mind as you plan: A run is the yard for your chicken coop, giving your flock access to fresh air and sunshine.
A run should allow each bird to have 3 to 6 square feet, but more is better. Beginning with Housing Basics 23 Look out below! Chickens hanging out in their run may be susceptible to predators that can burrow underneath the frame. Consult Chapter 10 for an easy way to safeguard against subterranean attacks in a stationary run; it requires just a little bit of shovel work on your part during the build.
Many coops are built with a sizable for a chicken drop from the shelter down to the ground. Look at constructing a simple ramp that lets your flock strut up and down in style. Look for more ramp-related revelations in Chapter 9. But factoring yourself into the equation is just as important. Often, just thinking through a particular aspect of a design and your particular circumstances will point you in the right direction.
Most chicken-owners will tell you that keeping a flock and maintaining a coop is always a work in progress. There will almost always be a better way to do something or a new trick you can employ to make some part of the process easier, better, quicker, or more rewarding. Having a tough time chasing down hens because your roosts are in the way? Attaching one end of each roost to the coop wall with a hinge will fix that.
Is cleanup taking too much of your time? Try adding some litter pans under the roosts or constructing a giant slide-out tray that can be removed for cleaning. And chicken owners everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to the first guy who thought to build his nest boxes into the wall of the coop, with lids that could be opened from outside the coop for easy egg-collecting!
Location dictates everything. All Cooped Up Before you flip ahead to the next section and fall head over heels for a particular coop style, you need to begin by determining where on your property a coop can and should go. This section tackles a few of the considerations you should weigh carefully in deciding which corner of the yard will become home to your hens.
Before you begin: In some cases, the law may say nothing about keeping chickens, but will come down on you like a hammer when you go to construct a coop without proper permits or inspections. He may have gone through proper channels to obtain a zoning variance.
Be sure to check with local government officials about zoning restrictions and whether building permits are needed for constructing a coop on your property. Regarding your house One of the most common mistakes first-time coop-builders make is putting the coop too far away from the house. Beginning with Housing Basics 25 need to do this at least twice a day every day!
This allows you to keep a lookout for predators and escapees while making maintenance less of a chore. Chickens will make short work of those in no time, so keep your flock well away from any landscaping you want to keep.
Considering your neighbors Many neighbors of chicken-owners are supportive and encouraging especially if it means a few fresh eggs every now and again! Enough said. Is it really fair to make them stare at the backside of your chicken coop every time they look out their bedroom window? Or to subject them to an eyeful of your chicken run during their next cookout? Taking your neighbors into consideration when it comes to selecting your coop location may be the smartest move you make during this whole adventure.
Creating animosity amongst neighbors makes life unpleasant for everyone, and having your backyard hobby be the root cause is a surefire way for your chickenkeeping endeavor to end badly. Talk over your plans with those on either side of and maybe behind your home, and offer them a chance to throw in their two cents. Utilizing utilities While scouting out the location of nearby houses in relation to your planned coop site as explained in the preceding section , take a quick look around for two other things that will make your life as a chicken-keeper much easier: Plumbing Ah, running water.
In addition, you may find that you like having an ample supply of water handy for coop-cleaning purposes. It may seem like a no-brainer to locate your coop within easy reach of a garden hose. No hose spigot conveniently located near your coop? Put one there!
It can be even farther away if you use a full-length garden hose as the connecting piece. A steel stake driven into the ground holds a shut-off valve at a handy height. Turn on the water at the house; then plant this great gadget just a few steps away from the coop for running water at your fingertips — all without ever calling a plumber! A faucet extender puts a garden hose shut-off valve wherever you need it.
But some owners like to provide permanent, hard-wired lighting inside a coop, whether as supplemental lighting for the hens or just as a work light for themselves. Check out Chapter 11 for more on whether juice is justified for your particular coop setup.
If you plan to include actual electrical wiring in your coop, give some thought to how far the electrician doing the work will have to run the wire, and know that a longer run translates to a more expensive service call.
Because your coop will be outdoors and technically part of the landscape, the way water moves and drains on the site is something you should take time to consider, too. If a slope or low spot in the yard is your only choice, you may want to erect your coop on heavy-duty support posts that are anchored in the earth with concrete pilings.
Advice on how to do this can be found in Chapter 6. When you go to hose the place out, all that manure will be washed somewhere. And if your home draws its water from a well, the chicken housing should be at the very least 50 feet away to prevent contamination of the well water. Many smaller coop styles are designed to be portable and move from spot to spot within your yard. You can move the coop close to the house as needed, back it into a corner when the nextdoor neighbors have a garden party, haul it to the hose spigot on clean-out day, and relocate it to higher ground before that big thunderstorm comes.
Building Chicken Coops For Dummies Cheat Sheet
All Cooped Up Figure on a minimum of 2 to 4 square feet of floor space in the coop itself and 3 to 6 square feet of outdoor run area per bird. Or get creative with the design. Use the 16 square feet of ground for the run and then build a square-foot coop on stilts, with the housing built directly over the run!
Your hens will love the sub-shack shade! Many coops are just tall enough for the chickens. These may require you to do some crawling on your hands and knees to collect chickens or perform maintenance. Some even incorporate a hinged roof in the design for human access and maintenance. But many chicken-owners build walk-in coops for the ultimate in convenience. Just like a toolshed or potting shed, they feature a human-sized door and a floor that can accommodate human weight.
This type of coop often complements the landscape better than a small A-frame coop. And many chickenowners find the extra space of a walk-in handy for storing some of their chicken-related supplies.
But building one does require more materials and demands extra care when selecting materials and constructing the shelter. See Chapter 4 for more details on building a coop you can literally get into. Not exactly. Based on zoning and neighborhood restrictions, location, utilities, drainage, and desired coop size, you may find that only one style of housing will work for your unique situation, or you may have your pick of the entire roster. While your site and your flock size certainly help drive the decision on which coop is best for you, you still have more to consider.
One consideration is pure aesthetics. How do you want the coop to look? Do you want it to match the architecture of your house? Are you hoping it blends seamlessly into the landscape?
Beginning with Housing Basics 29 time you glance out your windows or step outside. Theoretically, you picked up this book and are reading it because you are at least contemplating getting out there with some lumber and tools and building this thing yourself.
Great; read on. The chapters that follow go into detail about everything from tools to materials to basic building techniques. Some will even build the coop for you and deliver it in one piece, ready to plop on the ground and move chickens into. Surely your area has plenty of qualified professional contractors and builders who would be more than happy to erect a chicken coop for a new client.
Maybe you have a handy neighbor or cousin you could cut a deal with. We hope you decide to build your own coop, and we think this book will help make that practical. Ready to check out the coops? The following sections offer a quick thumbnail sketch of a few popular types.
In Part III, we present five coops, with detailed plans, complete materials lists, and step-by-step instructions. Because of their small size and basic design, these coop styles require a minimum of materials and know-how to construct. All Cooped Up the least expensive coop types to build and great examples of what a lowcost hobby raising chickens can be. Here are a few details on both types: An A-frame see Figure is long and triangular in shape. Two sides lean against one another and come to a point, serving as both the walls and the roof of the structure.
Most often, a solid, covered shelter portion is connected to a fenced run portion in one long unit. A hoop coop see Figure is typically rounded and tunnelshaped. Flexible piping like PVC often makes up the frame, with some kind of bendable fencing material covering it. A simple tarp or solid fabric can be draped over a portion of the hoop to make a decent shelter.
A small hoop coop can be very lightweight and may need to be anchored to the ground to keep it from tipping over in high winds. Chicken tractors No, John Deere has not come out with a miniature model that allows you to stay inside and watch the big game while your feathered friends saddle up and till the back A-frames and hoops, described in the preceding section, can be considered a subset of the tractor family.
Beginning with Housing Basics 31 Figure A chicken tractor is meant to be moved around on wheels or skids. This allows the chickens to work the soil and fertilize different patches of ground, depending on where the chicken-keeper places the tractor. To facilitate moving the coop around the property frequently, most tractors are built either with wheels refer to Figure a or on heavy lumber skids refer to Figure b. A tractor-style coop is still fairly economical, thanks to its relatively small size and materials list.
Some tractor designs, however, include a real shingled roof which, as discussed in Chapters 7 and 8, can add a level of carpentry that makes some DIYers nervous. Tractor coops built without a side door or top hatch must be lifted to catch chickens. Welcome to the all-in-one coop. As shown in Figure , an all-in-one coop usually features a shelter and a run under one tall roof that covers everything and provides human access to the run but not the shelter.
This access — for egg-collecting, feeding, cleaning, and chicken-gathering — makes this an attractive coop style where carefree maintenance is a goal. All-in-one coops start to get larger than the styles previously outlined, with real stud walls, tall support posts, and an actual roof that includes rafters and such.
The all-in-one coop is a big structure, tall enough for a human caretaker to enter, so the materials list can be lengthy. An all-inone coop puts the shelter and run under one roof.
Walk-in coops If you have the property to pull it off and the skills to slap one together, a walk-in coop as seen in Figure is generally considered the primo option for backyard chicken-keepers. Material cost, space, and build time notwithstanding, a walk-in coop is unquestionably the most comfortable housing choice for chickens as well as their keepers. Beginning with Housing Basics 33 Figure As the name says, a walk-in coop is large enough for you to stand upright in. Think of it as a full-size toolshed with chickens living in it.
This obviously makes maintenance, cleaning, and all other chicken chores much easier on you, and it gives your flock a lot of room to move about inside their shelter. The primary distinguishing feature of a walk-in coop is a heavy floor that allows you, the caretaker, to enter the shelter.
For the floor to support you adequately, you must use the right materials and build a proper support system underneath. We deal with these issues in Chapters 4, 6, and 7. The larger size also means you can increase the size of your flock more easily or just start out with more chickens than if you had a smaller coop.
But even the gold standard of chicken coops comes with a drawback or two. For starters, a walk-in is big. That means it takes up a lot of space, requires a lot of material, and demands a good deal of skill to build.
Walk-in coops seldom factor in a run. The outdoor run is almost always a completely separate entity, to be designed, laid out, and incorporated however you see fit. That makes it like two fairly sizable projects, so keep that in mind as you decide.
If time is in short supply, this one may be tough to do on a deadline. Just remember to go out and lock the coop at night to keep them safe from four-legged midnight snackers. Free-range chickens come with both pros and cons, but if you have room for them to roam and want to give it a shot without a dedicated run enclosure, I have great news: We just saved you a bunch of money on your coop construction costs.
Most backyard chicken-keepers eventually end up with a walk-in coop, even if they start out with a smaller coop style. This chapter runs down the tools you need to have on hand Chapter 5 delves into how to use basic tools effectively and safely.
All the tools mentioned can be found at your local hardware store or home improvement center. Many can also be rented for short-term use. True, a wellstocked workshop can certainly make the building process more fun, and a few certain specialty tools make specific steps of the build easier.
You can construct a perfectly workable coop with nothing more than the following everyday tools, most of which are probably rattling around in a toolbox in your garage or basement right now: All Cooped Up Putting Safety First with Essential Equipment Before you cut your first 2x4 or hammer home a single nail, spending a moment on safety is essential.
61 DIY Chicken Coop Plans & Ideas That Are Easy to Build (100% Free)
Any tool can do bodily harm if used improperly, and many tools are downright dangerous just by their very nature, even in the skilled hands of a pro. No chicken coop is worth a trip to the emergency room. Using a little common sense and taking a few simple precautions should be the first step in any DIY project. Here are a few basic pieces of safety gear that no toolbox should be without: Using even an inexpensive pair of throwaway foam earplugs protects your eardrums from potential permanent damage.
A good pair of work gloves gives you a better grip on your tools; protects against scrapes, nicks, and cuts; and helps prevent painful blisters. Make sure the gloves you wear fit properly! Forget those clunky, elastic-banded geek glasses from high school chemistry class. Safety goggles can be as comfortable as your designer sunglasses, and just as stylish. They also keep stray bits and pieces of dust and flying material from putting your eye out, which would be a bad way to end a good build day.
No one ever mistook a tool belt for a chic fashion accessory. But what the tool belt lacks in style, it makes up for in convenience, practicality, and safety. A clean worksite is a safe one, and all of those pouches, pockets, and loops keep your hand tools and fasteners within safe reach. Digging Up Dirt on Garden Tools Depending on the desired location of your coop, using garden tools may not be necessary.
Many chicken-owners place their coop on a plot of flat, grassy lawn that seems custom-made for chickens. But in some yards, you have to clear out a spot.
This may be as simple as digging up a few shrubs, or as backbreaking as removing old tree roots and busting up some rocky ground. For clearing away wet and packed leaf litter or mulch, a rake is as easy as it gets. A bow rake with metal tines has more pulling power than a plastic leaf rake. A flat-bladed shovel or garden spade is an effective tool for slicing underneath sod, should you need to do that. A shovel with a pointed blade is the way to go for digging up shrubs or plants to make room for your coop.
If your coop location is inundated with close-to-the-surface tree roots, a mattock see Figure is a good weapon of choice.
On one end is a small blade similar to that of an axe, perfect for chopping through roots. The other end features a broad, chisel-like blade that can be used for prying or trenching. A mattock makes short work of stubborn tree roots and shallow rock. If clearing the site for your particular coop requires anything more than these rudimentary landscaping tools like a backhoe, for example , you may want to rethink the location of your coop.
Finding a new spot is probably easier than taking on full-scale excavation as your very first step. Check out Chapter 2 for guidelines on selecting a spot for your coop and Chapter 6 for the ins and outs of preparing your site. Flip to Chapter 4 for the basics of shopping for lumber. Measuring up tape measures When Noah built the ark, he measured out his lumber using not feet and inches, but an ancient unit of measurement called the cubit.
And while it may seem like the most straightforward gizmo of them all, some features warrant a closer look: Tape measures come in different sizes, but , , and footlong tapes are the most common. A smaller tape means extra measuring and a greater margin of error, but a longer tape is bigger and heavier, so try it before you download it.
Most tape measures have some sort of locking mechanism that holds the tape at any desired length. This is extremely handy for transferring the same measurement over and over to several pieces of lumber.
Some models employ a thumb-controlled lever, while other tapes automatically lock in place and require a manual release. Which one you use is a matter of personal preference; they work the same. The metal hook on the end of a tape measure is called the edge clip. This loose play is built in at the factory to compensate for the thickness of the clip itself. But how you mark it may mean the difference between a perfect fit and a wasted piece of wood.
Consider these marking tools: A pencil is a pencil, right? Well, kind of.
String is coiled up inside a container filled with chalk dust. When the string is pulled tight and snapped against a surface, it leaves a brightly colored line to refer to as needed. Gathering Your Gear 39 Figure A chalk line is a bright idea for marking a long cut-line. Tape measures are now on the market that have a marking device built into the bottom of the housing.
Once you find your exact measurement, you simply touch the tape measure to the workpiece. Is this advancement in tape measure technology worth a special trip to the home improvement store? Probably not for most folks, but if you have to download a new tape measure and are habitually losing your pencil, it may be worth considering.
Sizing Up Saws and Supports Walk down the saw aisle of the hardware store, and you may be overwhelmed by the obscene assortment of sawing implements available to anyone with a credit card.
For a chicken coop build, you can probably get away with just one or two of these basic saw types: Commonly called a Skilsaw after the company that invented it , a circular saw is by far the one used most frequently by doit-yourselfers.
Cutting a truly straight line, though, requires either a very steady hand or the use of some kind of straightedge. A powerful motor, a metal fence and bed to place the lumber against, plus factory-set stops at 90 degrees, 45 degrees, and common angles in between allow you to cut through lumber as easily as slicing through a stick of butter. All Cooped Up Figure A miter saw is practically a must-have for fast and accurate straight cuts. Consider marking all your lumber first and then renting one for a day to tackle all the cuts in a single afternoon.
Yes, Virginia, there are still handsaws out there. Having one handy is recommended, though, because it does a great job of finishing off cuts that may be too deep for your circular saw or miter saw to complete. A table saw see Figure can be a true luxury when it comes to cutting or ripping sheet goods.
Maneuvering a handheld circular saw down the length of an 8-foot-long piece of plywood and keeping anything resembling a straight line is a real challenge for any craftsman. A handheld jigsaw is typically reserved for making curved cuts in a variety of materials, but this tool can be quite adept at ripping sheet goods as well.
With a decent straightedge as a guide, cutting a full sheet of plywood with a jigsaw is fairly easy. It takes longer than using a table saw or circular saw, but many people find that controlling and maneuvering the lightweight jigsaw over a long cut is far easier than manhandling the larger saw types. Gathering Your Gear 41 Accessorizing your table saw Fashion models know that the accessories make the outfit.
A little black dress is nice, but the right jewelry, purse, and shoes take it from bor-ing to ba-boom! A full sheet of plywood is heavy and unwieldy all by itself. Maintaining control of it as you feed it through a table saw is so difficult that it could be an Olympic sport. A roller stand set to the same height as your table saw and a few feet away gives you an extra set of hands and helps support the piece as it comes off the tabletop.
Most table saws can be outfitted with extensions that expand the surface of the tabletop. A combination of extensions and a strategically-placed roller stand or two can make cutting a full sheet of plywood a oneperson job. Maintaining good leverage on the workpiece can be tricky, especially as you near the end of the sheet. Your hands have nowhere to go but closer and closer, inch by terrifying inch, to that spinning saw blade.
A push stick or the larger push shoe is used to guide that workpiece through the saw while keeping your fingers at a safe distance. These can be downloadd or made from scrap wood. If you use a table saw, this safety accessory should be a nonnegotiable add-on. A table saw is tops for cutting sheet goods like plywood. In addition to a saw of some kind, enlist a few handy helpers to keep things stable and steady while working with power saws: A good set of sawhorses is crucial.
They can be set up as a temporary workbench, act as a platform for your miter saw, and keep you working at a comfortable waist height instead of down on the ground. Tightly clamping a board to a solid work surface frees up one hand to better guide your saw through the cut. This kind of skid-frame construction allows great flexibility for future use.
Want to move your small coop to another location? Just grab some strong-backed buddies and heaveho after temporarily evicting the chickens to a safe place, of course. Some coops are built on wheels, specifically designed to be towed to different areas in the yard to allow the chickens to turn and fertilize the soil.
See Chapter 2 for more about these types of coops. But for many coop-owners, it makes sense to build a coop as a permanent fixture in the landscape.
If your ideal coop location is on a slope, for example, constructing it on stilts that are anchored in the earth may be your only option. And if you want to use permanent support posts, you need the tools in the following sections. See Chapter 6 for details on putting in posts. Digging postholes To get your coop up off the ground, you may need to install footings: For a simple, modest-sized coop like the ones we describe in this book, you can get away with four footings — one on each corner.
Typically, footings are cylindrical in shape and made of poured concrete, with a timber post encased inside and sticking up out of the ground to build off of.
But it all starts with digging a big hole. And that means. The lowest-tech way to dig postholes is with the unimaginatively-named posthole digger see Figure Not digging the idea of excavating those footing holes by hand? A power auger see Figure is a massive, gasoline-powered drill made for digging deep, round holes. You can find one at most tool rental shops, along with spiral-shaped drills in a variety of widths and lengths. Gathering Your Gear 43 Figure A power auger brings horsepower to a holedigging party.
For a couple of holes, it may not be worth it. Chapter 6 has the ins and outs of using an auger. These tools can help: Braces are your answer. Check out Chapter 6 for a quick step-bystep, how-to guide to making your own braces.
For now, plan on downloading some extra 1x2s, about two 8-foot lengths for each post you have. A post level is essential for making sure your posts are plumb. Mixing and pouring concrete Concrete is hard. There are several methods you can use, each with its own list of stuff you need to do the job. First things first: And it comes in extremely handy for many phases of the coop build.
You can use it to shuttle tools and materials back and forth to the build site. Cleanup is a breeze when you use it as a portable trash receptacle for those bent nails and scrap corners of lumber.
Every landscaper on the planet has accidentally dumped a load of something in the wrong spot trying to navigate a heavy, single-wheeled wheelbarrow through a tight turn or over uneven ground. A mortar hoe see Figure is perhaps easiest of all, thanks to holes in the blade that help the ingredients mix faster. There are several other high-tech ways to mix concrete, including some plug-in power options; clever, specialized gadgets; and even alternatives that require no mixing whatsoever!
We deal with these methods in Chapter 6. Gathering Your Gear 45 Figure A mortar hoe is designed to mix concrete quickly and thoroughly. Framing Your Coop When you get right down to it, building a chicken coop or just about anything else is, at its core, just putting a bunch of pieces together. Taking those 2x4s and fastening them to one another to create the outline — the frame — of your chicken coop is called framing. Ah, but what you use to put those pieces together — that makes all the difference.
As with just about every other tool choice, you have several options here. Each has its pros and cons: Flip to Chapter 4 for information on the nails and screws you need for your coop build. Honing in on hammers Do hammers require an explanation?
Well, yes. The heavier the hammer, the more force you bring with each swing. Fewer swings equal faster nailing. But a heavier hammer can be harder to control and can tire you out more quickly. Now imagine swinging it with force, repeatedly. Over and over. All day long.
But beware:Well, yes.
A chalk line is a bright idea for marking a long cut-line. Maintaining control of it as you feed it through a table saw is so difficult that it could be an Olympic sport. An A-frame see Figure is long and triangular in shape. Perfect for constructing a storage shed, tool shed, or mini-barn. Screws tend to be even more specialized than nails. Pie plates. Plywood has become a bit of a catch-all phrase used to describe any type of wood product sold in a flat sheet.
And that's all you need to know…now you're ready to build a chicken coop. One consideration is pure aesthetics.
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