Friday, September 28, 2012

Mobile Turkey Coop

A mobile Turkey/Chicken Coop fit for a princess!  

Full credit for this design goes to Harvey Ussery and his great book, The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers, which contains the plans we used.

It always seems to start with a square (or at least a square rectangle).  Measured on the diagonals.  This is 9' front to back and 8'3" side to side.  Looking back on this, I should have just made it 10' long, as I ended up using 2' wide plastic roofing panels, rather than the 3' wide metal roofing the author used.

With this coop, I took the extra time to ensure it was also square up to the ridge beam.  This saved alot of hassle, since roof panels went on without being crooked.

Add more rafters and 2 stringers from front to back.

Frame in the opening for the door in front and the nest box in back.  Note the 1x2 furring strips used on the rafters to keep them nice and square.  This also really stiffens up the structure.

Here's the nestbox frame, which sits on the roosts, that you can see in the next photo.  The bottom of the nestbox was covered with 1/2" hardware cloth to allow water and dirt to drain out.

Here you can see the back wall on the nest box, which includes a rectangular door above it for easy access. There is blocking between the rafters and collar ties, which perform double duty as additional roosts and places to hang water and food.  Since we are housing turkeys, we made the roosting bars 4" wide, which is supposed to help prevent foot/leg problems.

 Dylan took care of covering the front and bottom of the back triangle walls with 1/2" hardware cloth.  He LOVES cutting that stuff so much that he tells me how many cuts it takes.  Only 800 wires to cut on this one....  He does appreciate the pneumatic stapler, after having to use a hammer and fence staples to attach poultry netting to the barn's petrified 2x4 lumber.  It's good to let kids learn the manual way of doing things before they get to use the power tools.  It builds character, and they can appreciate how dad built an entire clubhouse with handtools and lumber found on the side of the road--drug home by hand from 3-4 blocks away.

I'm finishing up the roof, and Dylan already has the wheels on.  These wheels are setup to be removable, so you can roll it into place, then drop it to the ground to exclude predators.  It's pretty heavy, so we chose to go with 4 wheels, rather than try to lift one end completely off the ground, like our smaller coop.  The roof is 6' on the diagonal, and luckily, the sheets of plastic roofing are sold in 8' and 12' pieces.  The 12' pieces cut in half pretty easily with heavy duty kitchen scissors (shhh! Don't tell my wife!), so there is no waste.

Here you can see the roosts, attached at the front and back of the coop, which some hangers from the rafters for extra support.  That's the nest box in the back and the door above it.

As pretty as that coop is, when it came time to "wire" up the automatic waterer, which requires the water pressure to be less than 8psi, the solution was to hang a bucket from a tripod from some dead saplings from the woods.  We hung the feeder right in front of the door to make it easy to refill.  

After a week of use, I'd recommend installing wire mesh on the collar tie that the feeder and waterer hang from to prevent roosting and pooping into the foot/water.   Dylan, grab the hammer, hardware cloth and fence staples!

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