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Chicken Coop Expansion, Part 1

Friday, November 4, 2016 14:19
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(Before It's News)

Many years ago, we took down an old barn for a woman in our church. We salvaged most of the lumber and assorted accouterments, and this resulted in a rich source of old lumber we’ve used for endless projects.

One of the things we salvaged was an oddly-shaped little shed.

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Don retrofitted the shed with salvaged glass windows and turned it into a tiny greenhouse.

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We used it in this capacity for a couple of years…

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…but discovered it was easier to start seedlings indoors on a shelving unit instead.
 

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So the greenhouse fell out of use and became a sort of catch-all for assorted garden-related stuff: planting trays, pots, bird netting, that kind of thing. A couple of windows broke. It became an embarrassment.

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But the shed itself was sturdy and we didn’t want to just burn it. As a fall project, Don wanted to use the shed to expand the chicken coop.

To back up a bit, last summer we started raising Jersey Giant chickens. So far we’re very pleased with the breed: the males are large (suitable for butchering, although since we only have two mature roosters at the moment, we haven’t done that; we have some young roosters we have earmarked for the pot), the hens are prolific layers, and I have never encountered a breed more likely to go broody than these ladies.

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So we’re slowly transitioning to an all-Jersey Giant flock. As our older assorted ladies die off, we won’t be replacing them with other breeds.

We are also interested in expanding the flock: more layers (for egg sales) and more roosters (for meat birds). This means our current coop is too small. We need extra space; not only for the upcoming young layers, but also a place to separate maturing roosters, and a “brood” area for mamas and their babies.

As part of this expansion, we decided to utilize the old greenhouse shed. It will make an excellent brood coop.

We started by chaining up the shed and moving it out to the middle of the driveway, to make it easier to work on it.

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Don stripped off the plywood siding and remaining windows…

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…while I got busy cleaning out the junk inside.

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Then he started roofing it with OSB (oriented strand board). He also put OSB siding on the shed, making it much stronger.

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One of the disadvantages of the current chicken coop is its lack of windows. The birds have no natural lighting when they’re inside. For this new little coop, Don installed one of the windows which had formerly been on the roof (when it was a greenhouse). Obviously it needs cleaning, but it will provide ample light inside. He plans to put hardware cloth (metal mesh) on both the inside and outside of the window to prevent breakage, and will also make a “storm window” for winter, for better insulation.

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Then he removed the window (it was just a “fitting” in the above photo) and finished retrofitting the shed with OSB.

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Our plan was to snug the shed against the outer wall of the existing coop. However this couldn’t be accomplished without first cleaning out all the junk which tends to accumulate on any farm. (See what I mean by “embarrassing”?)

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Heavier things were lifted en masse with the tractor. Heavens, what did we ever do without this tool?

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Soon the only thing left to remove were two posts, sunk deep into the ground, left over from an abandoned project years ago.

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Once again, the tractor helped.

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Then it was time to shove the shed into place…

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…using, what else, the tractor

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First Don pushed the shed from one direction until it was just about level with the chicken coop wall.

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Then he pushed it from the other direction…

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…until it snugged up against the building.

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We still have lots to do to make the coop extension habitable, including bolting the addition to the wall. But that will be a future blog post (Part 2). For the moment, at least, we’re making progress.

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