Friday, September 23, 2011

Mobile A-frame Henhouse

The idea for an A-frame chicken coop came from a book about chicken coops.  There was also an article about one in an old issue of Mother Earth News.  So I decided to build one.  I started building it last Fall and got the basic structure finished except for the hinged roofing panel.  Then I got to thinking that I really want to do some traveling in the near future and that wouldn’t be possible with a group of layers.  I decided to finish the coop anyway.  

There weren’t any clear plans for the construction so I had to wing it mostly.  That’s OK, the only drawback to being creative is my zero experience raising chickens, so I would not know if some of the features of the coop would work or not in a real chicken situtation.  I knew the coop needed some nest boxes, a perch, a way for the hens to get to the second floor, and chicken wire all around the ground floor.   Here’s a pic of the almost finished henhouse, with the nest boxes, and enclosed ground floor.

The frame members are cedar 2x4’s.  They were on sale at the local lumberyard so the price wasn’t ridiculously high, just expensive.  The A-frame layout makes a very strong structure which isn’t likely to get blown over.  The coop is about 5’ by 5 1/2’.  It’s built on a rectangular frame of 2x4’a with the A-frame built on top of that.  The A-frame 2x4’s were notched to accommodate the horizontal crosspieces so all the frame members were in the same plane.  This allowed the roof panels to go directly on the frame without additional lumber.  I was trying to use as little lumber as possible in order to keep the weight low.  The lower horizontal crosspiece supports the penthouse floor and extends past the house so a handle or rope can be attached. 

The roof on one side is fixed.  I used some leftover metal roofing to cover that side.  The peak has an open space about one inch wide for ventilation.  The grooves in the roofing panel should allow for air to enter at the bottom and flow inside to the ridgetop. 

The other side has a hinged roof panel built of 2x2 cedar.  I bought one sheet of clear roofing which did not quite cover the hinged side.  Considering the cost of this stuff I decided to fill in the rest with a piece of metal roofing.  My thinking here is that hens need light in order to lay eggs, so why not let in natural light.  I thought the clear side could face away from the sun in hot weather and also be propped open a bit.  During the winter the clear side could face the sun and also bales of straw could be stacked against the coop for insulation.  That was the plan anyway.   This is a recent pic of the finished coop.

This is the hinged door to access the nest boxes.

The chickens need a chicken ladder to get from the ground floor to the penthouse suite. Here’s a pic of the chicken ladder down.  The rope is threaded through some eye bolts to the outside where it can be cleated. 

Here’s the chicken ladder raised up.  It would take a very determined predator to get past the ladder once it is raised. 

The one part of the coop that I really don’t like is the ridge top.  It needs a flexible ridgetop so the hinged side can be raised and lowered.  The only thing I could find was a rubber floor liner which is not nearly thick enough.  Anyone has any ideas where I can get a more solid sheet of flexible material please leave a comment.   
Lastly here's a recent pic of the finished house with the hinged lid propped open.  A perch made of closet rod has been installed and a handle was attached to the crosspiece extensions for pulling the coop.  The coop is not all that heavy and is easy to pull over level ground.  Hope you enjoyed the tour.  

1 comment:

Dirt Lover said...

This looks like a great project! We have about 6 hens, and have been trying to decide how to change their living arrangements. We originally had them in a very large yard, but then raccoons killed almost all of them, and now they are in 2 small pens that are too hard to move. Your design looks like a great place for us to start! I also like that it isn't very heavy and fairly easy to pull. Thanks for the post, and the great info you gave.

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