Coop Inspiration — Hiebert Rural Colorado Coop
Rural Colorado Coop
By The Hiebert Family, Colorado
Our family — Dan (dad), TJ (mom), Silas (son) and Lydia (daughter) — moved to rural Colorado about one year ago from Minnesota. I have always dreamed of living in the mountains. Montrose, Colorado emerged as the perfect livsing place … summer weather is fantastic; spring is long; winter is mild (compared to Minnesota), and fall is amazing!
We relocated to a 13-acre property, within 1 mile of town. It has nearly a 360-degree view of the San Juans, Grand Mesa, Flat Top, the Black Canyon and the Uncompahgre National Forest. This really is a dream property for us. However, there was a missing key element: no chicken coop.
We knew living in rural Colorado meant wild and domestic animals could be a problem with chickens, so we decided to build our own coop primarily with security features in mind and with large enclosed northern/southern exposures.
With our exterior, we needed overhangs in summer and sun availability in winter. Basically, we wanted southern sun exposure for winter time to keep the chickens dry and warm while keeping the snow out. We wanted northern exposure for summer time to maximize shade. We built roughly a 22′ x 12′ entire structure, with 8’x12′ enclosed coop interior and two wire enclosed sides that measure 7’x12′ on north and south.
We rented a skid steer to do some ground leveling since we had to build the coop on a slight hill and we had to fix drainage around the coop to ensure during heavy snow melt the water would move around the sides and away from the coop. The coop rests on 16″ x 16″ concrete pavers that are 1.5″ thick to help alleviate animals from burrowing under. The flooring frame is encased in 1/2″ hardware cloth to prevent critters from getting into the coop. We attached the hardware cloth on the top and the bottom of the flooring for redundancy and security. Lastly, we attached the sub-flooring plywood to the treated floor frame. Note: Keep in mind on the flooring it is probably best to use at least 5/8″ or 3/4″ treated plywood if possible, it will greatly strengthen the sub-flooring and worth the investment. I initially used that OSB (oriented strand board) flooring. The coop was not structurally sound until I switched to 3/4″ plywood.
Once the floor frame and sub-floor were in place, we began construction on framing of the coop with the interior dimensions of 8’x12′, with 8′ walls. For the roof, we hand constructed our own gable trusses to cover the 12′ expanse on each side including the shaded overhangs. 4′ was for the enclosed coop and 7′ for the overhang. I think extending the coop with a 12×3 pitch was tricky, but using some good levels and bracing, we were able to accomplish the continuation of roof line out over our eventual wire areas.
The rusted tin we got from Recla Metals. We bought four panels of 3′ x 24′ and had them cut them in half, so we had eight panels of 12’x3′ in their 1/2″ bare skin corrugated metal. Once the roof was on, we left about 3″ at peak for the ridge vent, adding 1/4″ hardware cloth over the 3″ vent, basically to keep critters out and allow for good ventilation on hot summer days.
Note: The exterior overhangs are roughly 7×12 to allow for roof pitch and overhang, but I used a 12′ sheet of corrugated tin, wanting to keep a few inches for drip overhang.
I believe it was at about this point we got our first 6″ snow storm! We were glad to have the roof in place before the snow hit. Plus we got to take a couple days break. We actually got hit by a second storm.
My wife ordered windows from Shed Windows and More. I framed in the windows and then cut holes using a Sawzall. The windows come with a basic screen but we added an additional 1/4″ hardware cloth over all the screens for predator protection. All the doors are custom framed, cut, and trimmed. I framed in the door, cutting again with the Sawzall, then we framed in another 2″x4″, to give a good frame of the door something solid to close and secure against. Lastly, we added hinges and latches for closing.
The coop was nearing completion. I used 1/2″ hardware cloth for the exterior shaded areas and stapled it every 3″ and sometimes more! We added a 24″ hardware apron to prevent animals from digging under the sides into the coop, so the hardware cloth comes down to the ground and then goes below about 2″ round and then extended another 24″ horizontally, under dirt away from the coop.
I built the nest box with six nests for our 12 hens. The roll away nest boxes allowed us to be gone for a day without having to collect eggs. TJ did all the interior painting. She used a kiltz primer and Behr exterior paint.
The final, final project was attaching our sign from Dakota Sign Co, our friends in Rochester, Minnesota.
Our chickens now have a functional and secure home. A special thank-you to our friend Jean. She put in a lot of hours building the coop and helping us move, always coming with a positive attitude, encouraging us, and keeping us motivated. The only remaining feature we plan to add this summer is an exterior chicken run 50’x100′ with 5′ tall wire fencing with another underground hardware apron.
The project was completed on our 17-year anniversary, so it doubled as my anniversary gift to my wife. “The Perfect Gift,” she says.
Visit the Hiebert Families blog at: http://lifeinruralco.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-coop.html.
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