Our Mobile Coops

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Our Mobile Coops

Postby chrismahon » Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:10 pm

I've learned a bit about building coops in the last 4 years and have now seen a few as well. I've posted this to give anyone building or buying a coop food for thought. I suppose the main difference to anything I have seen is that the vents are fully closable and are positioned on the sides, which means cold air doesn't drop over the perches. Appearance has always taken a back seat to practicality with anything I have designed, so if anyone thinks it looks nice it is purely accidental I can assure you! In fact a nice looking coop can turn out to be a real lemon. With any design there have to be compromises, but if there are too many some aspects become impractical. We bought one second hand which has been and still is quite practical, even though it looks a bit ugly. We were given a new cheap 'pretty' one which has basically fallen apart, is hugely impractical and I look forward to burning it!

When I built our first simple fixed coop from dismantled old pallets and then started using it we soon realised it wasn't going to be very practical for us at all. At that stage I had foolishly never looked at another chicken coop, so I didn't realise how complicated they ought to be. We hadn't had chickens before either, so we didn't know what useable features they really needed. Then a friend donated a big rotten shed and I built a second coop using the best of the timber. I still hadn't seen another coop but at least had some experience. This one was much bigger (10 -14 large hens), had 4 nest boxes and a proper pop-hole. Most importantly it could be moved around, or at least that was the theory. Turned out that the wood was so poor that it split and absorbed a huge amount of water, even when painted. This meant that when wet it was too heavy to lift, even for two of us. The third was 4" smaller in footprint (8-10) but otherwise similar using another old shed as most of the material. It had 3 larger nest boxes for bigger or more ornate hens, larger vents, a hinged nest box lid and a different roof angle. There were still a few minor drawbacks but nothing worth modifying it for.

The chronic red mite problems we had this year and the inability for our user friendly chemicals to keep it under control has lead me to resort to coating a traditional 50:50 mix of creosote and paraffin on the inside. This takes time to apply and dry which needs a spare coop.

So the fourth one (a spare) is what you see in the following pictures, built entirely from new timber. Despite taking as much weight out as possible it is still really a two person lift. The overall height remains unchanged but the floor height has been raised for easier access when cleaning out but also so that Bottom will go underneath when it's raining. The floor match-boarding has changed orientation for better cleaning out. The roof is painted to compensate for darker creosote walls. The door apertures are stronger to improve security and reduce draughts. The perches are lowered as far as possible without affecting cleaning out and chicken headroom. The vents are slightly larger.

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Front end MK4
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Back MK4
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Nest box side MK4
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Internal pop-hole ALL
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Nest boxes inside MK3 & 4
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There are loads of things I considered when positioning and sizing everything. Far too much to explain in one go. You would fall asleep reading it if you haven't already. But if anyone wishes to know about any aspect of it be it materials, paint, wood treatment, fixings, hardware, position of things, how well it works I'll happily go into the details. It took about 200 hours and cost about £400 to build. About 50 hours of that went on design sketches and material calculation. To help speed things up and improve the build quality I bought a dual purpose saw bench, support tressel and drill stand, so it's not really a DIY product.

I know it's a long way for them to jump to the pop-hole! The steps are fixed into the runs at the moment, but new chassis mounted steps will be available next year.

The next two I make, time permitting, will be just for France and will follow basically the same formula but will be slightly smaller again -just 6 or 8 hens with 2 nest boxes. Got to be careful they still have enough landing space off the perches and they are not perching in a draught. We're not getting any younger and are worried about being able to move them in 10 years time or maybe even next year!
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Re: Our Mobile Coops

Postby foxy » Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:19 pm

Excellent post, and a beautifully made house! :-)08 :-)08

Hope you don't mind that I have "stickied" it so others can benefit from your thoughts and experiences :D :-)17
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Re: Our Mobile Coops

Postby tygrysek75 » Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:48 pm

Wow,this is all i can say at the moment.This great looking cop.Does anybody moved inn :-)08 :-)17 :-)08 :-)17 :-)99
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Re: Our Mobile Coops

Postby chrismahon » Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:18 pm

Thanks Tygresek and Foxy. The 7 birdies are in it now. I'm sure they didn't even notice it was a different coop -except they may have noticed the absence of red mite. The coop in the background of the first picture, MK3, is now out of service and will be dismantled into its component sections, jet washed, dried, modified slightly, 50:50'd on the inside, touched up on the outside and reassembled. Then it goes back out and MK2 comes in for a total refit, which is a big job as the roof angle changes so the end panels will be remade and the roof will be replaced. All the cladding is coming off to be replaced with new, so a full repaint as well. About 70 hours work.
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Re: Our Mobile Coops

Postby karminski » Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:36 pm

wow from me to if only i had £400 i would get you to make me one :D puts my simple ply house to shame not that i think the girls care as long as they are dry and draft free .
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Re: Our Mobile Coops

Postby chrismahon » Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:38 pm

You've hit the nail square on the head there Karminski -dry and draught free are primary essentials, then the heirarchy of needs descends (ventillation, nest boxes, perch height etc.), with appearance last in my book. Difficult to achieve on nights like this, as it's even draughty in our kitchen.
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Re: Our Mobile Coops

Postby Marigold » Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:40 pm

That's just fantastic, Chris. I'm glad the French are going to think at least someone in the UK knows how to do a good job. I particularly like the adjustable vents - very simple but easy to vary according to which side the wind is blowing and how hard. Prototypes always take much longer to make, but next time it should be quite a bit easier. Lucky hens! (also Bottom of course.)
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Re: Our Mobile Coops

Postby chrismahon » Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:52 pm

Botty is on the second pic Marigold, keeping an eye on me and one on some of his girls. Think I could build one in 100 hours if I had a workshop -the timber was cut in the cellar, the coop sides were assembled in the spare bedroom, the chassis, floor and roof assembled on the drive. then all painted and assembled in the carport.
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Re: Our Mobile Coops

Postby karminski » Mon Dec 12, 2011 10:03 pm

i'm still impressed :D although i prefer the colour pink :lol: :lol: actully if i owned that i would have to go mutlicoloured literally .you are giving me ideas :-)05
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Re: Our Mobile Coops

Postby dinosaw » Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:44 am

Great job, very impressive indeed, you cut a far better mitre than me. Only thing I may have done differently was used onduline on the roof, did you consider it?.
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