Coop maintenance long overdue

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chrismahon
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Coop maintenance long overdue

Post by chrismahon » Sat May 18, 2019 2:36 pm

We've been in France 7 years now and the only things I have done are replacing pop-hole pull cords and fitting clear acrylic sliding vent covers to the North side, instead of plywood, which is the one usually fully closed. The climate here means coops take a real bashing and realistically tongue-and-groove boarding simply doesn't work in the extremes of humidity and temperature. Unfortunately I can't find the original post for our France-bound mobile coop and I didn't have time then to post pictures of the three Breeding coops built then. As it happens the Breeding coops have performed really well both in terms of longevity and also ease of assembly, transport and use.

There have been some quality issues. The Wicks 30mm Zinc nails rusted quickly, however their 40mm nails are still fine. The expensive neoprene nest box sealing strips have split- fortunately they are wide enough to cut down and still work. Some of the plywood was of inferior manufacture (despite what was claimed) and has warped and split.

On the plus side the roofing felt, although a bit blistered, is still intact despite the surface temperature often exceeding 60C. The Cuprinol Shades paint is well outside its designed operating limits but has only just started to flake. Pleased I used 18mm exterior plywood for the base of the Breeders as anything plastic quickly disintegrates here and I have to kneel inside the coops to assemble and clean them- something overlooked and that Stockboard would withstand.

By complete co-incidence the house we have bought has the same coloured green on the shutters as all our new coops were painted. The previous owner kindly left us 7 litres of very expensive oil based microporous paint, which now being used on the coops, the Cuprinol shade having almost run out anyway.

An important point here is coop orientation and that needs to be considered in the build. By sheer fluke all our coops were as right as they can be. They need to face South for Winter, so the run is on that side. This means in Summer that side gets hot! The most vulnerable side is the West as that gets a real bashing from wind, rain, hail and the afternoon sun- best not have any openings on that side. The North attracts moss growth but stays cool, so a good place for nest boxes and the East is quite sheltered, so the best side for the access door.

The main cladding damage is to the West sides, with the South a close second. None of the coops have damage to the East or North. Seems the usual route taken down here for a coop is to convert a small shed. Now sheds are new to the French and didn't exist 10 years ago. They are rather expensive because the construction allows for significant wood shrinkage and expansion- far more than the 5mm our boarding can cope with. The sides are usually 28mm and they interlock- no nails or screws. This allows the shed to rise when damp and shrink when dry without compromising the weather proofing. Seems our coops, which are fast becoming redundant, are unsaleable here as we've tried! So the message is, don't make coops to bring here unless you have a lot of spare boarding, as it isn't sold here. Happens we have 20m2 of it, so no problem.
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Hen-Gen
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Re: Coop maintenance long overdue

Post by Hen-Gen » Sat May 18, 2019 6:49 pm

Sounds like the extremes of climate present you with a real challenge. A thing us natives often forget is just how equable our climate is. Our extremes of snowfall would make the average Canadian laugh. And what we call a heatwave would not even cause an Australian to break into a sweat. Our wind, even at its most severe would be nothing to a Phillipino.
I guess the middle of the road is where we are. I don’t envy you the expense of maintaining your poultry houses. I had a very good outbuilding done here about four years ago. Though it cost £14,000 it was money well spent. I’m toying with the idea of having another one built as a henhouse. They say you can’t take it with you. I guess the same applies to a bank loan aswell!!! :D
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chrismahon
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Re: Coop maintenance long overdue

Post by chrismahon » Mon May 20, 2019 7:02 am

The climate came as a shock when we got here Hen-Gen, as we'd only been to France in Autumn. If you keep coops entirely in shade the cladding wouldn't be a problem, but that needs a lot of big trees. What happens otherwise is the wood gets wet, the sunlight hits the surface and dries it causing the plank to bend as well as shrink and that bending flicks the tongue out of the groove and sometimes splits the wood. Fortunately there is no expense involved as we have brought all the repair materials with us.

The last coop I built here for new bantams with the environment understood. The West side is just cladding and the nest box is integrated into the structure, not just an add on. Makes a tidy looking and very stable coop. Went back to an apex roof because it looks pretty and increased the vent sizes again to 20% of the floor area. Used Aluminium for hanging the perches and clear acrylic for the vent sliding covers. The nest box is on the North side with heat reflective insulation under the lid felt and an air circulation gap was created inside to let and heat buildup escape. The climate worked for us during the build- the weather was warm and dry so I just left everything outside on the lawn for two weeks.

And what am I doing today? Well after finishing a radiator cover it's back to repairing coops!
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tiny_tam
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Re: Coop maintenance long overdue

Post by tiny_tam » Mon May 20, 2019 10:14 am

Where in France are you, Chris? The climate seems to vary considerably over the country. I live in the windy and wet northwest near Normandy. However my thick treeline protects the house and coops and it stays pretty mild. Coop maintenance over 7 years has been only re-roofing and waterproofing of our basic wooden shed.
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chrismahon
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Re: Coop maintenance long overdue

Post by chrismahon » Mon May 20, 2019 1:19 pm

We're in Gasconny Tiny_Tam, or more precisely in the South Central part of the Gers, which is in the far Southwest of France. Yes you are right about the climate varying considerably across the country. Step outside this just tiny area and you will notice increases in wind and rain/thunderstorms. Just 30km to the Northeast snow in Winter is normal whereas we rarely get any and it stays for just a few hours. The wind and rain 30km to the West can be extreme and they are on flood alert at the moment. To the South 20km and it's the mountain weather. To the North is 'thunderstorm alley' running from Bordeaux to Agen and including the Dordogne. 2hours to the West and the wind really starts, from Toulouse right across the Mediterranean.

As you say, trees make a big difference. We have hit 42C and good shade is essential but we chose a property with hills and trees protecting our North and West from extremes of wind. Our last place was exactly 10km North and on the top of a hill. Great views of the Pyrenees but the wind was horrendous-nothing shelters you from 100km/hr near horizontal rain. We had 75mm of rain once in 45 minutes which went through the wood wall of our shed and flooded it.

As I mentioned earlier, sheds down here are built differently to cope with the humidity extremes 20-100%. We threw away our tumble dryer as clothes can be dried quickly outside in Winter when the humidity is lowest. You could spend ages looking at forecasts to pick a place to live and still be wrong as 'microclimates' are all over the place. We were here 5 years before we knew exactly what to look for (and avoid) and by sheer luck we found this place just after we sold in the UK. Our biggest problem really is water storage for the veg plot, but we have a solution I think?
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