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A 5x6 Chicken Coop Kit's Journey to Florida

By Jill Siragusa, 09/25/2012 - 7:46am
For our blog this time we are fortunate enough to have a guest writer and current customer take us through her experience of buying our popular 5x6 chicken coop kit and assembling it with her husband.  We thank Betsy for this insight in to taking on a project like this with no professional help.  It can be done folks and it can be fun. 

We will look forward to an update from Betsy next month on the progress of her new chickens and to see how the coop is working for her.

 
The Journey of a Chicken Coop to South Florida

 
 
Thursday August 30, 2012

 
Coop was delivered

 
The coop actually came yesterday Wednesday August 29, 2012 but the driver was unable to get it off the truck.  Apparently putting a huge crate the whole way up front on a tractor trailer with no means of getting it to the back drop gate is not the wisest thing to do. They agreed to bring it back the next day placed on truck so that it could be taken off first.

 
Chicken Coop transport

Coop waaaaaay in the back

 
When the truck came back, the coop was on the back of the truck and the new driver got it off without a hitch!! Then it sat half in my yard and half on sidewalk until Saturday.

 
Chicken Coop

My new coop !!!!

 
Saturday September 1, 2012

 
Rise and shine chicken lady!!!

 
With my coffee in one hand and my brand new handy dandy crow bar in the other hand I proceeded to the front yard to un-crate my brand new coop from Horizon Structures.  

I purchased the 5X6 coop kit http://www.horizonstructures.com/coop.asp  with the optional run with under coop panels http://www.horizonstructures.com/chicken_run.asp  ,optional dusk to dawn chicken door http://www.horizonstructures.com/Details.asp?List=3&Product=62  and the optional “cleaner coop cage” http://www.horizonstructures.com/clean_coop_insert.htm .  My coop is stained, not painted for a more natural look to go with my existing little starter/transition coop.

 
I had my coop assembly manual and a brand new sharpie to check off the pieces as I unloaded them. That big crate pretty much implies there is going to be a lot of parts in there. 
Custom Chicken Coop

Assembly manual and sharpie

 
I would like to redirect here a moment and talk about owner manuals and assembly manuals of the world.  Manuals come in almost any format imaginable; from pictures only (IKEA) to twenty different languages (major and minor appliances) to a few pictures with a few words, none of which pertain to the product you are trying to assemble. Mike at Horizon Structures advised me to use the manual when un crating to make sure all pieces were sent.  He sent me the PDF manual for easy printing at home (or work).  First – let me say that this manual is in COLOR and has REAL pictures. I KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!  Who knew? I had to show about twelve different people this manual because I knew NO ONE would actually believe me.  Second – The words are in ENGLISH – ONLY!!!!! Again – everyone look at this!!!! I was almost expecting the manual to be set up that the pieces were crated in the exact way they were displayed in the manual, except backwards so the top item was first on the list. {wink, wink, hint, hint} I know, I know – come on Betsy – really?  Come on!

Third – Each piece that did NOT have a corresponding picture was all bullet lined at the bottom of the page.  They took almost every possible scenario into account when they made this manual. 

 

OK, back to the un crating portion of my day………I was so excited to see this coop I was pumped to get the pieces out and ready for assembly.  I would like to point out that I un-crated this beast by myself as the hubby was sick in bed with the flu (no not the avian or chicken flu!!) We needed to get the crate off the sidewalk and lawn, so I put my tough pants on and got to work.
Coops
This picture is after the front crate panel was removed and two of the under coop panels were removed and I remembered to take pictures. I tend to lose all sense of common sense when I am excited!!! 

Custom Built Chicken CoopHere is a picture of my newest tool – my handy dandy yellow crow bar! With this little number almost all things are possible.

 
I would like to stop here and explain how I came upon Horizon Structures.  I have an existing little coop that claimed to house 3-5 chickens.  I currently have two (2) Amerucana Pullets in there along with a little dust bath box, a feeder and a waterer and there is hardly and room left for them to act like chickens.  Let alone bring in my other three babies.  Currently in the brooder I have one Silkie that hatched July 8, 2012 and two baby Amerucana’s I purchased at a local feed store after the second Silkie died.  Hence my quest for a bigger and better built coop for my ever growing flock. I was really not happy with the construction of my first coop, I don’t think those people in China really get what good construction with quality products implies.

 
I started with one of my favorite things -  “Google search”. I needed something affordable, something that actually allowed me to get inside to clean without having to hire someone from Cirque Du Soleil.  Currently the cleaning process involves long handled tools and me trying to squeeze into the little tiny Alice in Wonderland type door.  I can never fully get everything out in order to have a complete clean. Which is unacceptable to me. I also needed something that came in a “kit form”, I do not want to have to hire a boom operator to hover it over my house and get it to the back yard where it needs to go.

 
After looking at a lot of “coop companies” I landed on Horizon Structures, I read the website and did some additional research on them. They really did have everything I was looking for. I am originally from York, Pennsylvania and Horizon Structures is an Amish run and built company.  I grew up relativity close to Lancaster Amish country, I have gone to auctions and Farmer’s markets were one can purchase directly from the Amish, I have seen barn raisings. I have firsthand knowledge of their craftsmanship and the pride in their own work that they take.  This was a no brainer for me, so I placed my order and sat back and was ready to wait my 3-5 weeks for shipment.  After about 1-2 weeks I cracked, I sent off an email asking if they have any idea when it would ship.  I knew I was going to have to wait, after all they have to build the pieces and ship it to South Florida, and I can only imagine how many coops are heading this way…………probably could count them on one hand.  I will admit I lack patience, it is a thing I have.  I have fourteen eggs in the incubator that will be hatching on or about the 13th of September, so I need to clear out my brooder, so the plan is that everyone gets upgraded one level.

  
I digress; my point is this, Horizon Structure’s quality is unsurpassed by no one.  These panel pieces and coop pieces are HEAVY!  Heavy means built with actual 2x4’s and actual plywood, no balsa wood in this crate!! I spent about two – two and a half hours unloading the pieces and I was huffing and puffing like Jillian Michaels was putting me through a “boot camp workout”. The wall panels were so heavy I had to tilt and pivot them to get them even as far as my front gate. 

 Chicken Coop 

About half way through the un crating

 
 
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A little bit further……

 
Buy Coop

 
All that is left is the floor to the coop and removing the sides and top of the crate.  Oh and the pack of shingles. Horizon incorporated the floor of the coop into the floor of the crate. Which is a fantastic idea so there is less waste and unnecessary product use.

 
The floor is solid and heavy, so heavy all I could do was stand it up and pivot it and get it as far as the driveway just so it was off the sidewalk.  It has since been moved to the side gate that is closest to where the coop is going to be.

 
My next step after catching my breath and drinking some water was to cover up the pieces that I had to leave out front, not so much protection from the weather, after all they ARE made for outdoor use, but to keep them from tempting others with their coop beauty. All the pieces that could be damaged by extended time left out in the weather were put under my Tiki Hut where they will stay nice and dry until assembly. These items included; nesting box dividers, roof supports, roost bars, the ramp, and some other miscellaneous items. They even sent me a paint brush and stain for touch ups! GO HORIZON STRUCTURES!!!!

 
I am completely satisfied with the coop thus far; I cannot wait to see the coop assembled and being used. One thing I will probably adapt is the wire, Horizon pre-assembled each panel with the wire on, and I will probably add a layer of ½” hardware cloth to the inside of each panel to offer more protection to my flock from possible predators here in South Florida.  I will forgo appearance for safety every day of the week.  Yes, the ½” hardware cloth is harder to view the chickens through but that is better than the freaky animals we have here gaining access.  I will even lay a layer of the hardware cloth on the ground and cover that with sand and attach it to the base of the enclosures. We have little snakes, Bofu Toads, mice, rats and sneaky sneaky cats and dogs.  I would not want to come home to find that a dog or cat has tunneled under for a nice snack or one of the other critters got in the coop or run through the larger opening of the wire that is on the coop.  Chances are they would always be OK with how the coop came, but I tend to lean to the side of caution.

 
 

So, to recap the delivery and un-crating aspect of my new coop; I give Horizon Structures TWO THUMBS UP! Their customer service is astounding; their product is extraordinary, their assembly manual is incomparable to any other I have eve

 

ever used. Wait is that three thumbs?

 

 
Saturday September 15, 2012

 
Coop Assembly day has arrived, we gathered up our assembly manual and tools and out back we headed. The tools we planned to use are as follows: cordless drill, tape measure, long level, short level, Hex head drill bit as well as a Phillips drill bit, razor knife, shims, assorted extra screws, a hammer, and the handy dandy crow bar.  Having everything ready and close by is very important.  We set up two saw horses and laid a piece of wood on it for a make shift tool bench.

 
Our first step was to put the floor where I marked off for it to go.
Building Custom Coop

Floor placement

Cute herb pots on the fence!

 
Because the old coop was in about the same location and we really didn’t want to dig up any more grass and sand because of the irrigation pipes we decided to use paver blocks to level it out where needed.  To ensure that it was sturdy and not going to shift to much we both got on the platform and jumped up and down and kind of did a chicken coop happy dance.  Naturally there are no pictures of this because none of the dogs have thumbs in order to take a photo!!!  Convenient!!!
Off we went to the front of our property to get the first wall. Left wall is first to set.

 
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First wall and McKie our Cock-a-poo

 
Chicken Coop Construction

Another view of wall 1

 
To explain why McKie is wearing a flotation device – We also have three Labradors that are of course water dogs, McKie likes to swim with them in our pool.  Sometimes a little too much.  He has fallen in the pool a few times and he really doesn’t understand what pacing oneself means.  So the vest helps him stay afloat and if he tires he won’t drop like a rock.

 
The front wall is next to be set in place. So far the assembly is by the book and relatively easy.  It definitely does take two people to get the walls in place and attached. 
 
Coop Construction

Wall 2 and McKie is still supervising

 

 
Chicken Coop Building

Wall 2

 
 
 
Chicken Coop

Wall 2 back view

 
This coop is made with good solid construction materials, see those windows? Yea they are real windows, that open, yup ~ gonna totally put curtains up in this coop! One of the reason why I picked this coop was the access points to clean the coop.  My other coop was impossible to clean properly.  The people door is perfect to get into the coop.   Before wall three went up I opened the windows and squealed with delight of having real windows!!

 
Our next step was installing the roost bar. In order to get it in with the third wall in you must attached the bar first.

 
Building Chicken Coop
Roost bar attached to far end and propped up for right wall

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Roost bar

 
Next up is the right wall.  This wall has the chicken door, I ordered the automatic chicken door, and my first coop had a manual slide door, which required me to actually walk outside at the crack of dawn and the set of the sun to shut the door.  In all actuality this isn’t a difficult task to accomplish.  It is more of a chore though.  There are times when one enjoys sleeping in and the guilt of the girls being holed up in the coop longer than necessary is a bit hard to handle.  Also we are not always home at dusk.  So automatic door it was!

 
Custom Made Chicken Coop
 

View of right wall in with automatic door pre-installed

Chicken Coop

 
Right wall and automatic chicken door

 
 
After we attached the right side of the roost bar our next step is to put in the final wall.  My back wall has a drop down door for air circulation and also I got the cleaner coop feature.  I knew I would need room to get in behind the coop, drop the door down and be able to pull out the cleaner coop tray. Hence the space between the coop and the fence.

 
Clean Custom Chicken Coops

Top door is for air circulation


 Bottom door is the cleaner coop access

Coop

Back of the coop

 
 
At this point we decide to take a lunch break. Well, right after a dip in the pool.  We are in South Florida and it is HOT today!

 
The next few steps were easy enough for me to do alone, so right after I ate I started on the nesting boxes.  Per the instructions you line up the nesting box dividers evenly across the front of the coop.  Then screw them down.  Easy Peasy!

 
Building custom Chicken Coops
Nesting box dividers

 
Chicken Coops

Inside view of nesting boxes

 
 
The front panel for the nesting box area goes on next. This requires two people, it was hard to hold it up in place and attach, so I had to get my helper out of the pool to lend me a hand.

 
Chicken Coops Building

Front panel

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Front panel

 
 
 
During the entire assembly I had my two oldest hens outside of the old coop free ranging, it is nice to see them roam around and do what chickens do best.  The three younger girls were inside their run we made for them to get some outside time.  They were all on the side of the house so they could be close to each other with only some hardware cloth dividing them.

 
Carrie and Miranda

Carrie and Miranda

Amerucanas

 
Please excuse the blue tarp, it is there because the old coop had a leak into the nesting boxes.

 
 
The lift up to the front panel of the coop goes in next. For easy access to the eggs I am sure will start any day now, or maybe weeks.

 
Custom Chicken Coops
Lift up to nest box

 
Custom Chicken Coop Construction

Front of coop almost done!!

 
The roof was the next step,  we placed the two pieces of wood up as directed and then screwed them down. 

 
 
Custom Built Chicken Coop

Wood on the front of the roof

 
Coop Construction

Wood on the back of the coop

 
 
 
We filled in the gap with a piece of wood we ripped down from the crate the coop came in. There are two trim pieces for the front and back of the coop.

 
Chicken Coop Building Trim
Front trim piece

 
We installed the drip edge as instructed, nothing exciting enough for pictures I am afraid.

It’s shingle time!!!!!!!!!!!!  I wanted to shingle the roof myself, I started in the back and did about two rows from the ladder on the ground and then realized I would need to climb up on the roof.  My hubby handed me the shingles and he cut them where needed.

 
 

 

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Roof front view

 

 
Buy Coop

So close to being done!
 

Of course against my urging not to, my hubby had to take a picture or two of me up on the roof.  His theory on why we needed these photos; “No one will ever believe you climbed up on the roof and shingled this yourself.”

Of course I went right along with this, not so much though now.  But nonetheless……………………

 
Building Chicken Coops

About half way done with the shingles

 
Chicken Coop
This IS easy!!!

 
 
Our next step is the under coop run enclosures.  I did not want the wheels on the coop, but did want to utilize the space under the floor for chicken activities such as dust bathing, shade enjoying and the ever popular with chicken crowd ~ hide~n~seek.

 
Custom Chicken Coop transport

Front of coop under coop enclosure

 
Buy Chicken Coop

Back of coop

 
As you can see there is quite a gap in the back, but do not fear, I am putting paver blocks around the entire base of the coop.  Multi-functional – practical and aesthetically appealing.

 
 
Chicken Coop Lower Part

Side enclosure

These pieces are so easy to attach, just had to make sure the ground was level enough to accommodate them.   We got the pieces of the run all together and started assemble.  Four pieces total, easy right?  Not so much!  At this point we are tired and hot. Common sense went out the window about an hour ago.  After attaching the two sides and the front it was clear we messed up.  (No photos of this, wasn’t even thinking about recording this for history) A tape measure and a level will be your best friend here.
Finished Chicken Coop

Ta-Da!!!

 
Delivered Chicken Coop

Lots of digging required to install the run
 
Here are some inside photos:

 
Coop Roof From Inside

Back of coop ceiling

 
Chicken Coop Roof

Front of coop ceiling

 
 
Coop Roof Inside View

Roost bars and cleaner coop cage area

All in all the assembly took about eight hours, give or take.  I am super happy with my new coop, yes there are a few things we had to improvise with, but that is always the case as each coop is not set up in the same or ideal locations.

 
We both got nice tans and a mini workout. There are some final touches I will make tomorrow before I can actually put my hens in their new coop.

 
In the course of the weekend we also had some new excitement!!

 
 
Chicken

Buff Orpington #1 right after hatch

 
Chick

Buff Orpington #2 a few hours after hatching

 
Chick

Buff #1 asking when she can leave the incubator

 
Chicks

Orpingtons one and two!!!

Little tiny fluff balls.

THEIR SO FLUFFY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 
 
Sunday September 16, 2012

 

It rained most of the day here and then there was football ~ GO EAGLES!!!!  After the game I went outside to finish up prepping for the hens to go into the new coop.  I laid pavers along the base of the coop in the back, I dug out and laid a little patio o

 

out front at the run gate door, and I hung the water and the food containers.  I had not hung these in the other coop as there just wasn’t any room for that.  One thing I learned from having floor containers for food and water; they like to sit on top of them and poop.  Not such a good thing for anyone involved.  I used the two roof rafters to screw in hooks and I got some old hanging baskets and used the chain from them to hand down for the containers.  The food feeder went without a hitch.  The water container proved to be more of a challenge, the handle is hand width which means it tilts back and forth.  Not so great when it comes to water inside the coop.  I took some pretty duct tape and built up a little spot so the chains would not move as much.  I used two chains for the water container.  It is higher than I would like, I know the little girls will not be able to reach it and I really don’t think Jenny my Blue Silkie will ever be able to reach it so I put a floor water container up on some pavers (to try and keep shavings out) for the three smaller chickens.   As I was inside the coop sitting on a roost bar working on the chains it started to down pour!!  I mean there is no getting out of the coop until it slows.  So I enjoyed my time inside, it is like being in a playhouse when I was little.  My own little fort!

 

After the chains were up and I was still stuck in there I came up with my decorating ideas!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
When I finished securing the base and making sure no one could escape and no one can enter without a written invitation I got the three little girls out of their brooder for the last time.  (Sniff  Sniff, they grow up so fast) I got the pool net to wrangle Carrie and Miranda out of their old roost area; they are bigger and kinda freak me out with all that wing flapping. And the screaming!!! Oh the screaming! But I got all five into their new home.

 
Here are my girls enjoying their new coop and run.

 
Chickens in Coop

 
Carrie and Miranda (back)

Jenny, snow and Moe to the right

 
 
Chicks

Snow (white)

Jenny (black fuzz ball)

Mow in the back

 
 
Coops Chicks

All five!

 
Chicks

The grass does not have long

 
 
 
 
I need to level out the area, and finishing putting pavers around the base of everything. (Extra predator protection as well as curb appeal) Also need to add the homey touches to their new little house.  Hang some signs around and paint the fence behind the coop. Once everything is settled I will re-sod all around the coop to eliminate all the mud that is there now.

 
 
So that is the story of how my chicken coop got to South Florida.

 
Betsy Stump

Fort Lauderdale, Florida