Kids and backyard chickens have a lot in common. You’ve got to feed them, nurture them, protect them and provide them a safe shelter. It just makes sense to combine a chicken coop with an kid’s backyard hangout! Continue reading as Scott from Connecticut describes how he constructed – The Fort Coop:
This was our first experience owning chickens and therefore our first time building a coop.The game plan changed many, many times, with input from my wife and our two young boys. During our pre-build brainstorming phase, we needed to plan our backyard layout. We wanted a swing set, a fort for the boys, a garden area, a chicken coop, and a run. (While keeping in mind a possible area for a few Nigerian Dwarf Goats, but that’s a project for another time!) We were trying to figure out how to possibly combine things. We knew the run would have to be connected to the coop. When combined, they make a pretty big foot print. Connecting the swing set to the coop quickly became unrealistic, due to the size of the area it would take up. So, we decided the swing set could go on the other side of the yard. The boys really wanted a tree fort, so we got the idea to put the tree fort above the coop and make a deck connecting it to the trees. That is how the Fort Coop was born!
As far as size, I went with a comfortable size coop & fort, not too big, not too small. I settled on 8’x8′ floor, because it fits two sheets of plywood so nicely! Also, the walls are roughly 12′ tall (peak is taller) which nicely fits a 8′ sheet of T-111 and a 1/2 sheet (4′) on top of that to make only one joint.
– Coop: 8′ x 8′ x 6’6″ High
– Run: 8′ x 15′ x ~6′ High
– Tree Fort: 8′ x 8′ x ~4’6″ at the Wall and 5’6″ High at the Peak
I didn’t keep a detailed material list, mainly because the cost started to go way over budget and I didn’t want to be reminded of that, but here is an idea:
Base: PT 4×4’s and PT 2×6’s
Coop & Run Framing: 2×4’s
Run: 3ft Rolls of Chicken Wire
So, construction started at the end of March, 2015. March in CT can be cold, or relatively mild, but as luck would have it, this year there was actually still snow on the ground! Mother Nature can make things tricky, but we don’t let that stop us! Besides, I had all ready been snow-blowing the build area while figuring out our final layout.
First things first, laying the base. Much of the framing was built in the garage. This made the most sense, because it’s flat there and the weather is not an issue. Moving heavy PT frames to the build site is another story, but I had help, so that wasn’t a big deal.
While my Dad & nephew were installing the plywood flooring, my bro & I built the frames for the walls. We also attached the T-111 to the walls and the four of us hoisted them into place. Building the coop in sections in the garage worked great. It kept things moving right along. Obviously, having the man power to move the sections made this possible.
That same day we also added the coop roof/fort floor framing. Here is a pic from the fort. Note the 8′ T-111 is actually higher then the fort floor. I did this because I didn’t need the full height in the coop, but I did want the additional height added to the fort.
We were able to add the plywood for the fort floor and covered it all with a tarp to keep some snow/rain out.
What a difference a week makes! This was exactly one week later.The snow melted and out came the sun! We hoisted up the fort wall frames. Those were approximately 4ft High walls, so, without the T-111, they were fairly light. Good thing, too, because we had to carry them up ladders! The T-111 was added in place. The above photo is the boys making sure their fort is being constructed properly! In the photo below, I added the T-111 aluminum joint….
The next day we applied two coats of stain/sealer to the T-111. We wanted to make it weather-proof and we wanted this massive structure to blend in, at least a little bit. Also, I figured out the roof pitch to be about one foot higher at the peak. I also added temp plywood and the tarp back on to keep out the weather.
Now the Fort Coop is finally 100% weather-proof! Roof, door and storm window added to the front.
Now that it was completely sealed up, it was time to start making it look like a chicken coop!
We (again) pre-built the nesting boxes in the garage. I decided on a section of 8 nesting boxes (4 on top of 4). The horizontal divider is permanent, but the vertical dividers are removable pieces that slide in to place on tracks. I figured that may help with cleaning. To also help with cleaning, I went with the dishpan idea, so I made the nesting boxes big enough to accommodate the dishpans and they fit great!
When framing the coop walls, I had all ready framed out an opening for the nesting boxes. That was a big help. It gave us the exact spot to cut out the T-111, which was still scary to do! I hope we measured correctly! It fit like a glove! Also, added two vent windows. You can see one right above the nesting boxes. Another note: I pre-planned & framed where all the coop & fort windows would go which was a huge help.
Added 2″x2″ perches to the nesting boxes and have the bottom level perch out about 6″ farther, so the chicks don’t bump their head. I also added two roosting 2×4’s above the poop boards. The higher poop board is right on top of the nesting boxes and I stepped the other poop board down a bit to give the chicks options. I also made a 1″x4″ frame around the edge of the poop boards so I could fill them with Sweet PDZ to help control odor and make cleaning easier. That stuff is great!
We cut in the chicken door near the human door for easy access. The ramp to the roosts also ends right at the chicken door, so it fits well. Outside view of the chicken door and the window vent on that side.
Outside view of the egg door and window vent on that side.
To begin the construction of the run, we laid PT 4x4s on the ground to frame it and to keep the 2×4 walls out of the dirt. I built my run walls as individual pieces that we pre-built, then put up and screwed them all together. I did this because it was strong, easy to build, and it would be easy to replace a section down the road, should I ever need to. The 4x4s were also secured to the ground with rebar, but from the inside, for that same reason. If needed, I could knock one out with a big sledgehammer and slide a new one in without disrupting the whole run. The run long walls were four sections and the short end was two sections. All had a horizontal 2×4 added for strength, as well as somewhere to staple the chicken wire to.
Now the chickens can get some fresh air all day long! I also buried hardware cloth under the outside of the run to discourage predators.
Thanks Scott for the great photo progression and instruction of your coop! – More photos and details can be found at BackYardChickens.com at this link: The Fort Coop
If you have a “Cool Coop” you would like to share with the Community, email me at RNickols@communitychickens.com
Click on the link below for previous entries in the “Cool Coops!” series…
To view what else is happening at our Southwest Missouri property visit: the garden-roof coop
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