Chicken Coop and Greenhouse Construction
Backyard Chicken and Greenhouse Duplex
The three Ameraucana hens needed a new, larger coop and I wanted a greenhouse with a sink, so my neighbor, Shawn Thompson, who is an excellent carpenter and all around handyman, designed and built my chicken chateau and greenhouse duplex.
Now the chickens are happy in their 5 by 10 foot hen house and run. And I look forward to starting seeds this winter and also to having more room to house some favorite tropical plants during winter freezes in my 7 by 10 foot greenhouse. Many of the materials used to build the greenhouse and chicken house were recycled, re-purposed, salvaged or left over from other projects, except for the frame and the roofing materials.
Here's how we did it. I helped with the design and even some of the construction and also photographed the entire process from layout to putting the chickens in.
We needed a Chicken House and a Greenhouse. Now we have both in one structure.
Our Hen House and Greenhouse Duplex
I learned a lot from this book. I'd recommend it to anyone who is interested in keeping chickens.
The chicken house and coop and the greenhouse share the 10 by 12 foot building which is situated next to the garden and in front of the Satsuma trees. This will provide an extra layer of shelter during winter for these orange trees while providing easy access from the greenhouse to the vegetable garden when it's time to plant the seedlings out.
The chickens' part measures 5 feet by 10 feet. It is completely covered with chicken wire and hardware cloth or siding on all sides and has a roof over the entire structure. The hardware cloth extends 9 inches out and into the dirt to deter burrowing predators from digging in.
It is subdivided into two parts. The house where the roost and nest boxes are located has a metal roof, walls made of wooden siding, a 36 inch door with a glass insert (that leads outside) and saloon style doors which can be propped open during hot weather that lead into the coop. The coop is where they can take dirt baths in the sun and scratch around when they are locked in. I let them out every day to forage for a few hours.
The greenhouse measures 7 feet by 10 feet. It has window screen and hardware cloth on 3 sides and clear fiber glass on the roof and part of the common wall. In the south where we live, a greenhouse is needed for only about 4 months out of the year, so we designed it to be used as a gazebo during warmer weather and added a ceiling fan. During winter, I can put plastic up on the 3 screened sides. The sink will be used year round for washing and filling hummingbird feeders and for potting and watering plants.
Hen Penny supervises the work.
Building the Structure
Squaring Up and Preparing the Site
The building site was once a part of our garden but it was in too much shade to grow many things. There was a giant fat pine stump that Shawn, the builder, cut off as close as he could get to the ground. I'll have plenty of fire starter this winter.
We also had a fence and a tall trellis designed for mirlitons that had to be removed. The ground was then leveled and pipes and strings were strung to square up the corners of the building. A measurement was taken lengthwise and diagonally both ways to double check that it was square and adjustments were made.
A post hole digger was used to dig the holes for the corner posts and the posts for the center wall.
Putting in the Posts and Wire
4x4 posts were placed in the holes and a level, square and tape measure were used to make sure they were right. Dry Quickcrete was poured in the hole around each post. A little water was added. Down here in wet Louisiana we can do it this way because the soil is usually moist. The concrete was tamped down until the post stood up straight. Braces were used to keep the foundation posts in place.
Then the 6 foot chicken wire and 4 foot hardware cloth was stapled around the posts where the chicken house was to be. The hardware cloth extended 9 inches at the bottom and was buried outside the coop to provide a barrier against digging predators. It extended up to the roof on 3 sides.
Next the horizontal 2x6's were nailed up so they caught the top and the bottom of the chicken wire.
Roof and Sides
The 4x4's for the doors were installed. The 2x4 rafters and 1x3 slats were installed for the roof. We used clear corrugated fiberglass panels for the greenhouse side with the rubber inserts to keep out mosquitoes. Hurricane clips were also installed all around.
The chicken run part of the coop also has clear fiberglass panels and the house has corrugated metal. During the hot weather, we put a silver tarp over the clear fiberglass in the chicken run because they needed more shade in the afternoon.
Chicken Coops Book
There are many wonderful plans for various styles of chicken houses. We incorporated some of the ideas from this book into mine.
The front door of the chicken coop house was a salvaged metal door with a glass insert. The siding of the house are scraps from another project. The 2 small windows in the common wall were in the doors of the original part of our house. The glass panels can be taken out during warm weather and the screen keeps the mosquitoes out of the greenhouse.
A water pipe and faucet was installed in the coop and I added a y-connector so that the automatic watering bowl can provide fresh water 24-7. I also have a hose to wash things off when needed.
Ameraucana hens puttering around their coop.
Chicken Coop Boxes
There are six approximately 1 foot square boxes (2 rows of 3). The top row has a slanted roof to keep the hens from perching on them. It works and the boxes are poop free.
Hens in the Nestboxes
Movable Roost Ready for the Night
The movable roost is a ladder made from two 2x4's and three oak tree trunks. Two screws on each end of the oak trunks hold them in place. The roost can be moved up or down or taken out for cleaning. It should accommodate at least 10-12 hens. I plan to have around 10 eventually.
The roost can be moved up or taken out for cleaning.
Chicken Coop Lights and Back Doors
Lights for Winter and Warmth
Double lights were installed to provide additional light in the winter so that the hens will continue to lay. I can also purchase a heat lamp or floodlight bulb to provide warmth when we have freezing temperatures.
Back Doors for Ventilation and Shelter
Two saloon style back doors were made from salvaged red cedar. We cut a chicken size door so that they can go into the run when the doors are closed for warmth or during hurricanes.
Back, saloon type doors in the closed position. These will be used during cold or stormy weather. A chicken door allows the hens to venture into the run when the weather is pleasant.
Front Glass Paneled Door
Since we live in the south, we are more concerned about the chickens getting too hot, rather than too cold. I rigged up a chain latch with 2 settings so that I can prop the door open enough for ventillation, but not wide enough so the hens can get out. Then when I am around and can let them out, the other setting on the latch keeps the door from closing so that they can go in and out and from opening any wider if a large animal tried to force its way in. I close them up tight at night because we have many predators here in the country.
The Hens love to take dust baths in their new coop.
Ameraucana Pullets Inside the Hen House
Our 7 new pullets have established their place in the flock. The older hens still rule the roost, but as the younger ones grow, that may change. Four of the seven are large breed birds (2 Rhode Island Reds and 2 Barred Rock). All 10 hens are laying and we average about 6 eggs per day.
Chicken Coop Poll
Did you build your chicken coop or buy one ready make?
The greenhouse portion of the structure is designed to be a multi-purpose facility. It is covered with window screen on three sides so cool breezes can waft through in late spring, summer and early fall. We also installed a ceiling fan so it can be used for resting after working in the garden. An electrical outlet will enable me to add a heater to keep my plants from freezing. I may even get a small gas grill that will come in handy during hurricane season.
I will soon be getting some baby chicks and have already set up a 2x3 foot box cage in the greenhouse for the new arrivals. Baby chicks must be kept separate from the 3 mature hens until the young ones have some feathers. Then they will be introduced gradually so that the mature hens don't hurt them.
Pavers and Limestone Floor
We laid tar paper that was left over from another project, then laid down the pavers where I needed to walk or stand. Six cubic yards of limestone was ordered for the carport and driveway and we put a few wheelbarrow loads in the greenhouse and in front of the structure.
Limestone is an environmentally friendly paving rock. It allows water to soak into the ground, but will pack down to form a good surface for paths or roads. Using limestone helps to minimize storm run off so it helps reduce flood waters. Down here in Louisiana, we must do everything we can to control flooding.
Greenhouse Workbench with Sink
Window and Sink
The windows have screen and removable glass panels. They were salvaged from 2 old doors that were in the original part of our house. They are perfect to allow air circulation between the coop and the greenhouse. In winter, I will install the glass part of the windows, which can be opened on warmer days.
Sink and Counter
The sink and counter provide work space for any number of things, especially starting plants when it's cold outside. It can also be used for cleaning hummingbird feeders and/or chicken feeders.
Back door of greenhouse showing plant stands & sink/work bench.
Tray Stands & Starting Seeds
The movable tray stands are versatile and provide vertical space in which to place 6-8 trays of seedlings or cuttings. I can start enough vegetable and herb plants for a very large garden.
Tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds are started in January. Down here in Louisiana that is 6-8 weeks before the last frost. We often put out our tomato plants in March.
Heirloom Tomato & Pepper Seeds Started in Trays.
Greenhouse Gardener's Companion
A great book to go along with my new greenhouse.
Ameraucana Chickens Video
Benefits of Sustainability - Fresh Organic Vegetables and Yard Eggs
Shawn Thompson is the talented carpenter who designed and built my chicken house and greenhouse duplex plus many other structures. He can be reached by calling (985) 705-3150.