A-Frame Coop/Run Week 1

Living alone has some nice perks. You don’t have to ask any ones permission to do things like put in a garden or to get a bunch of chickens. Your finances don’t get messed up by another persons lack of control and every day you come home to peace. However, there are times when having another set of hands comes in handy. I have struggled at times to get a project completed because I did not have that extra set of hands to hold and steady the other end of something. So now in my planning stages of projects I spend time thinking through how I will get things done with just my set of hands. It may not go as fast or as easy as when you have a helper, but I have yet to start something I could not finish.

IMG_5583When I created the grow out coop for the chicks I hatched from my own flock, I ended up creating something too heavy for me to get up where I needed it. Lucky for me I have some great neighbors and they were all to happy to get that coop up. Now that I want another coop that is similar in design for the Legbars and Isbars I will be raising, I had to think through a way to create the coop in a way that can be done by one person. Always cheap and penny pinching, I also wanted an inexpensive coop. Because others also find themselves alone and/or on a budget, I am going to share my constructing of this coop. I am going to work my way through this coop over the next few weekends and post the progress, time and expenses along the way.

The Design

I liked the A-Frame design I had created as a grow out as it completely encloses the birds. An enclosed run means I do not have to worry about hawks and other predators. The A-Frame design also allows me to comfortably walk in and I can work around the entire coop area if needed. Even the areas next to the ground are easily accessible with a rake or fork should I decide to remove the bedding material. I really like the idea of not having to dig post holes and setting posts as well. For me the A-Frame coop and run also was cost effective and easy to build.

In the first A-Frame I built I created each side by making a rectangle frame on the ground. I then added the wire. It found it was easy to add the wire with the sides flat on the ground. I then joined the two sides with a heavy duty hinge figuring it would be no issue getting the peak off the ground and into the air. Unfortunately I was wrong and I found I could not get it lifted into the A shape. Lucky for me I have some great neighbors, also chicken people, and they helped me get the frame up and the sides in making the “A” shape. When designing the current project I still liked the idea of the hinges. However,I could not create an entire side, especially with a 32′ coop and run. I decided instead to create just the frame and do it in pieces.

Weekend One

The first weekend materials list:

  • 2 – 2″ x 4″ x 10′   … @ $4/each   …. $8.00
  • 8 – 2″ x 4″ x 8′   … @ $3/each   … $24.00
  • 2 – sets of hinges   … @ $2.50/each … $5
  • 1 – box 3″ wood screws … $10
  • TOTAL $48.00

I have an SUV and I cannot carry both 8′ and 10′ lumber at the same time. Seems I have to have the passenger and back seat in different positions for the different sizes. Since I have a Lowe’s just up the street from where I work, I spent my lunch break getting lumber and the supplies two days that week prior to starting the coop.

img_6524To start the coop I laid out two of the 2 x 4 x 8’s end to end. I then attached a hinge so the hinge opens all the way back on itself. This one is backward and I removed and corrected it. Did not get a photo of the corrected way, but the hinge part should be on the top, not between, and you want to leave a space like above between the boards. After the hinge is attached you can fold the one board on top of the other.

img_6525-1Now you want to grab a 2 x 4 10 and lay it out where you want the end of your coop to be. Then bring over the two hinged together 2 x 4 x 8’s and put them on the ground with the 2″ ends up and centered to the ten foot board. Then spread the eight footers so they are spread to the width of the 10′ board.

img_6526-1Put your 10′ board on the top and adjust so the bottom corner of the 10 foot board is even with the bottom inside corner of the 8 footer. Add just one screw on one side to hold it in place then do the same for the other side. You don’t want to add a second screw as a little flexibility here is not a bad thing right now.

img_6527Without a second set of hands it is difficult to get the end raised. So I ended up on each end of an eight footer putting a single screw so it barely comes through the back side. Then I fastened one end of the eight foot board to the top of the top near the hinge. The  photo above is my second weekends project of adding to the coop end.. but I did not get photos along the way and I want you to see how we are using that eight foot board as a prop to get the frame up. The screw is barely into the A frame board and is used as a pivot.

I have found the easiest way to attach the prop board is to lift the frame up a bit and position the prop board until I can get the two in a place I can join them together. It will not be exact.. but close. When we get it more upright and the other side in place we can adjust this end and put it where it needs to be.

I created the second frame with two more eight footers and the other ten foot board and added another eight footer to the top of the other side near the hinge and propped the two frames facing each other and tilted in towards the center. I then took one of the eight foot board and on each side connected the board to the base of each frame. That way I had the base where it was supposed to be as I worked on the top. Again I only used one screw so the frame could pivot as it as moved upwards and into place.

I also ran the horizontal boards to the outside edge of the vertical boards. If I had more hands I would try to have the horizontal boards line up with the mid point of the vertical ones so that the horizontal boards would butt up next to each other. I do not think running the boards as I have will cause issues but we will see as we go forward. You will see when I add the next sections what I am talking about.

I actually used that upturned cat litter box you see in the photos as a step stool to build the end of the coop. But the next weekend I got out my indoor step stool that has three steps and it got me a bit higher. The additional height of the stool does help give more leverage when screwing the screws into the wood… but an over turned bucket can be used as well.

Working on one side at a time I grabbed the end of the prop board and stepped up on the bucket/stool and raised the board into place and screwed it slightly into the top of the other frame end. I then went to the other side and end and lifted up the other prop board up and brought it up and into place. Since the other ends was sorta in place it should be easy to get this side exactly where you want it and screw this one in tight. I then went back to the other side and end and adjusted the top board if needed then screwed this board in tight. I then added a second screw to each end.

img_6535-1I found with the deck screw I used with the star head I did not get the boards pulled flat to the board they were on top of. So I ended up using 3″ wood screws with washers to pull the boards up close and tight to each other. The other smaller hole is the deck screw. After using both I think I like the wood screws better for this part of the project. Again, this is a photo from the second weekend where I have added on the next section, but you can see the washers being used. You can also see where I ran the horizontal boards to the outside edge of the vertical boards and where I have to stagger them. I felt this would be a workable option but you can try to run them so they butt up against each other if you want to.

IMG_6517 (1)

After we got the top where we wanted it we went back to the bottom and made any adjustments if needed then added a second screw to each of the ends. The above photo is what we got done the first weekend and I was surprised it only took a little over an hour to complete.

The base is ten feet wide and the section is eight feet long. The center peak is close to six feet plus or minus I think a few inches. Initially I was going to add two eight foot sections as a run and decided a little more run space would probably be better.. so I am going to add three eight foot sections as a run. That will give a 10′ x 8′ area under the coop and a 24′ x 10′ area as a run.. so 32′ x 10′ total run area. The chickens should have plenty of personal space outside of the coop.

Looking at the coop in the above photo the far end is the East. With the East/West orientation it will have winds to blow through it giving it good ventilation. This section we have built will be enclosed at the top as a coop. With two roosts running east and west as well, I have an expectation to house 16 birds in this coop and run. Next weekend we will add the rest of the frames.

See ya next weekend…

Running Total

COST: $48.00

TIME:  1.25 Hours

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