Build a goat/chicken barn.
My roommate and I designed our barn to hold chickens, ducks, guineas, doves, pigeons and goats. We can also store feed, hay and tools upstairs. We aren't finished with the details yet, but the pens for our three milk goats will be downstairs. The feed, hay and tools are on one side upstairs, and the chicken house is on the other side. The barn is dug into the side of a hill, thus the different height settings of our cement blocks.
I moved here in March, when there was nothing but dirt where the barn is now. Our first chick's arrived April 12th, and were moved into the barn after two weeks in the house. We now have 38 chickens, four White King pigeons, one pair of doves with babies, and eight guineas. They all sleep in the chicken house at night, but are outside during the day. Our three milk goats and 10 ducks sleep downstairs. Everything is locked up at night because of predator problems. We lost chicks, ducklings and goslings to raccoon, bobcats, and stray dogs. Our chicken house is predator-proof.
The house is simple, yet functional for all our needs. It is also attractive, in case we ever sell this place. Many people who visit think the barn is our house. They look in and say, "Oh, you have chickens in your house!"
I will only describe the chicken side (Fig. 1) of the barn (as the goat and storage areas aren't finished yet). We started with a concrete footer running the length of the building (18 feet). Then we laid three rows of eight-inch cement blocks. In the back we put double 2" x 6" boards standing on end on two cement blocks to bring the height even with the front. Then we used 2" x 8" boards on two-foot centers to make the floor frame.
[Figure 1 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
The west side has one window 6' x 6' tall. The rest is rough cedar 1" x 8" boards nailed horizontally across the 2" x 4" studs. The door on the right side is nine inches wide by 10-1/2 inches high for the chickens. It is hinged, made of cedar and hooks shut on the inside.
The roof is 2" x 4" rafters on two-foot centers, crossed with 1" x 4" lath, and covered with corrugated metal sheets. We put four 2' x 6' white fiberglass corrugated panels evenly spaced in the roof for more light.
The south side is the front of the chicken house (Fig. 2). It has three solid glass windows (2' x 4'). We have a front door, 3' x 75-1/2", made of cedar, plus a screen door inside. We have a back door straight across from the front door, also cedar with a screen door. Because our windows are solid glass, we added the screen doors for ventilation. We built this on the ground, then raised it into place. It was quite simple.
[Figure 2 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
The floor is just 10 2" x 8" boards spaced on two-foot centers with 2" x 8"s spliced on each side to make the 18-foot length of the building. Make sure any splice is at a floor joist so you can nail into it. The floor itself is 1" x 8" pine boards nailed across the floor joists. Keep them as tight as possible.
The east side is 2" x 4" studs on two-foot centers. On this we nailed 1" x 8" rough cedar horizontally, overlapping a half inch to shed water. Be sure to use the zinc-coated finish nails for the exterior. The outside corners get a strip of 1-1/2 inch wide cedar vertically on each side of the corner. This sort of closes up the corners and adds to the appearance. Be sure to close the space between the wall and the roof with boards or wire. Raccoons got some chicks before we did.
The north side is 2" x 4" studs on two-foot centers with rough cedar 1" x 8" siding. Of course, our house has a matching door on the north side to get into the top of the barn. This is not necessary, but I would recommend windows that open if you only have one door. The metal roof makes for some warm days inside, and the chickens like a cool breeze at night as well.
I wanted our new chicken house to have all the good aspects of many old chicken houses I had used in the past. We built eight nests, 16 inches off the floor. The front is solid cedar board with hinges on the bottom to open down. It is hooked on the right end near the top. The hens jump up on a 3-1/2 inch wide board and enter the nests from the rear, under the roosts.
Three 2 x 4s extend from the back wall to the top of the nests. They are hinged on the back wall and raise up (propped) for easy cleaning. Under these 2 x 4s is a sheet of half-inch plywood. This catches all manure. The roosts themselves are four 2 x 2s, eight feet long, spaced one foot apart. Between the four roosts and the three 2 x 4s is a layer of one-inch chicken wire mesh. This allows the manure to drop onto the plywood, and the chickens cannot reach it to pick and scratch. To clean, just release the hook in the center (a 3-1/2 inch cedar board will drop down), and raise the roosts and prop them up with another board.
I built a portable wooden feed trough on the floor in front of the nests. Our water dispenser is under the nests.
If you enter the door on the south side and turn to the right, you'll be facing the breeding pens. The large door in the center is covered with one-inch octagonal wire mesh, as are the sides of all the pens. All framing is 2 x 4s coming 63 inches from the east wall. The doors are made of 1" x 4" boards.
Inside the large pen, there are small doors into each of the other three pens. We keep a pair of White King pigeons in the top and bottom pens. A pair of white doves are in the middle pen. They all have half-inch square wire mesh floors in their cages.
We keep our brooder in the large pen on some bales of hay and put our eight guinea keets in it at night. This way we can put the ducks in the big pen and they won't be able to reach the feed that is outside the brooder in the brooder troughs.
We also ran an extension cord underground for power. A light switch is near the door and a fixture overhead. Three receptacles are spaced around the henhouse.
Our chickens share their half-acre attached run with 10 ducks, one gosling and three goats. It is fenced with five-foot poultry wire with small blocks at the bottom. It is quite shady with a small "duck pond" dug out and filled with a hose.
Materials list: Pine: 2" x 4": 608 feet 1" x 4": 239 feet (across 2" x 4" rafters toenail roof on, screen doors) 1" x 8": 284 feet (floor) 1" x 12": 9 feet (nests) 2" x 8": 189 feet (floor joists) 2" x 2": 32 feet (roosts) Rough cedar: 1" x 8": 1,085 feet (sliding and solid doors) 1" x 6": 68 feet (trim to frame windows & doors) Half-inch plywood: 1 piece, 4' x 8' 1 piece, 10" x 8' One-inch octagonal chicken wire: 8'--60" high 15'4"--36" high 12'--32" high 6'--24" high Other: 3 pieces 36" x 36" half-inch square hardware cloth 8 pieces 2' x 12' corrugated steel 4 pieces 2' x 6', corrugated white fiberglass 3 pieces, 23-1/2" x 47-1/2" glass 1 piece, 5-1/2" x 59-1/2" glass 24 assorted hinges (small pen doors, nests, roosts) 9 strap hinges (doors and roosts) 9 gate hooks 1 light switch 1 fixture 3 receptacles 12' #12 Romex wire
(Reprinted from Countryside Publications' Backyard Poultry, March, 1984.)
KENNY BROOKS JUNCTION CITY, KS