Last week I shared how we demolished our old coop. This week I’m sharing the plans for our new coop.
I’ve had 11 years to think about this project. We could have had birds long before now. But I’ve waited because I want to have a safe, permanent home for them. (And I avoid going to the feed mill in the spring when birds are in-stock.) I really want to do this coop right. So I’ve thought (and thought) about what the birds will need and also what we need.
First step is to move the coop into the barn. We have this huge beautiful barn that’s not being used. So I am going to devote part of it to birds.
The part that I’m going to use is what I call the lean-to, where the old coop joined the barn. (The part covered in paper house wrap below.)
The lean-to is a more recent addition to the barn. It has 5 horse stalls, our tractor garage and large open area at one end. It extends about 18 feet off the back and runs the whole length of the barn and then continues out behind the silo.
I am planning to use the large open area at the west end and divide it into three stalls or pens. I’m thinking the stalls will likely end up around 50 square feet. This would give us plenty of space for as many birds as we can handle right now. (Chickens each need about 4 square feet of coop space.)
Where the old coop was will become attached, covered runs.
The plywood patched and overhung area to the left of the paper-covered hole (seen in the top photo) will be a new door. A window used to be behind the plywood, but the foundation under the window collapsed years ago. We had our mason change it into a doorway, anticipating that I’d want easy access to birds from this side of the barn. (I’ve been planning this for a long time.)
My plan is for the stalls to be fully enclosed–walls and ceiling. Animals can get into the barn. I want to do everything I can to protect our birds. The bottom half of the walls will be wood (I have some handy tongue and groove boards I saved from the old coop). Solid wood means the birds in adjacent pens can’t peck at each other through a fence, and it also gives me a spot to mount nesting boxes, roosts, feeders or water buckets.
The upper half of the walls and the ceilings will be mesh. I want the pens to be high enough that I can walk in without stooping.
I’m considering making part of the lower walls between each pen a gate, so that I can expand the pens if I want to. For example in the winter, when chickens are in the freezer, and ducks could use more space.
The three pens give us space for laying hens, ducks and geese, and meat chickens. Or perhaps a few turkeys. We likely will not start with all of these at once, but it gives us the option to expand (or shrink) if we want.
For the runs, there will be three separate outdoor areas side by side. These will have mesh roofs and buried mesh around the perimeter to try to ensure that, again, the birds are as protected as possible.
The first step is to clear the layers of manure off the old coop foundation. Matt’s Dad rightly pointed out that it shouldn’t go to waste. So I will be working on that as soon as things thaw.
Then, we will be able to get rid of the old foundation and regrade this side of the barn. The ground is higher than we need it to be.
After that, we’ll be rebuilding: the wall, the door, the stalls, the runs. Electrical, plumbing, fencing.
This is a big project for us, and I’ll likely be working on it for the whole year. My goal is to be ready for birds in spring 2024.