Commonly asked questions when people are considering raising chickens; “Where is the best place for me to put my chicken coop” and “Where should my hen house be located”?
When it comes to real estate, everyone says, “It’s all about the location, location, location!” Our future chickens deserve the same attention! The first priority is finding a great location that gives them shelter from the elements and predators. Depending on where you live you have to take into account all aspects of potential dangers. For us, we have very cold winters where it can get below zero degrees, and also have experienced very hot summers over 110 degrees. There are also many predators here in central Oklahoma that we need to be aware of, ranging from snakes, owls, skunks, opossums, armadillos to neighborhood dogs–and the list goes on. There is no shortage of threats here!
My first goal was finding some aerial coverage over the hen house and coop. The site we chose has a beautiful canopy of trees. If you are considering a location where there aren’t any mature trees, you might want to plant some or find another location if possible. This tree canopy coverage helps with providing shade and also allowing additional protection from things that fly above that would see a delicious snack in your fine feathered poultry! This is our future location!
On Day 1, we chose our location and began construction of the area. We already had an existing playhouse purchased years ago for our children that have since outgrown it, and decided to re-purpose that structure as our hen house. Why spend the money starting from scratch when you can utilize what you already have? We cleaned everything out the playhouse and then removed it from the base platform it was sitting on.
Our next step was demolition of the original foundation that we made years ago for the playhouse. Some of the horizontal boards were rotting and weakening from weathering, so we just removed the old boards. We were pleased to discover that the cement piers in the ground and the wooden beam “bones” of the platform attached to them were still in fantastic shape with no compromised structural integrity. Luckily we were able to save money here as there was no need to replace it.
The original foundation that my husband built several years ago was a very simple square shape. The original concept was designed for our kids, so we did not want to set it very high off the ground level, only about 10-12 inches in most spots. Since we have high winds here, (go figure, Oklahoma), my husband used cement tubes you can get at your local hardware store, dug 4 holes a couple feet deep to form our square, and buried the tubes in the ground. He hand mixed bags of Quikrete and poured it into the tubes to establish the foundation. After the concrete had set up for a while and began to solidify, a large L-shaped threaded bolt was pushed down into the Quikrete with only about an inch and a half protruding up out of the concrete and this was allowed to set.
Here are the links on Amazon for a 10 pound bag of Quikrete and a tube to get you started! You can pick these up at a local hardware store but sometimes it’s easier to just order it on Amazon!
The last step of the process was securing 4″ x 4″ wood beams onto the concrete piers using nuts secured to the bolts in the cement. This allowed us to have a 8′ x 8′ framework for a platform foundation. At the time this was originally done it was only intended for our kids to use it so we intentionally made it low to the ground; but looking back now I wish it was more elevated to allow the chickens access to underneath the platform.
Since it was still in great condition, we decided to leave the framework exactly the way it was and planned to purchase some new pressure treated lumber planks to be used for the decking. Consequently, the height ended up staying the exact same level as it was in the past and we did not do all the additional work of attempting to raise it for the chickens.
One of the main reasons we decided not to raise it was because after removing the playhouse and old decking we made an interesting discovery–a hole in the ground about the size of a standard rubber tire! We had no idea what little creature possibly lived in there, so we covered it up with extra fill dirt and a boulder. This really reinforced to us that potential predators are very rampant here, and it was safer if we just closed it off and started brainstorming about other solutions to help protect the chickens.
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Part of DIY projects is taking what you have available to cut down on cost. Demolition on Day 1 cost – zero dollars. Materials used: whatever tools we had laying around the home. My kind of day!