FAST Blog: Family Homestead

Permaculture, Preparedness, Homesteading & Survival

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Our Quail Tale: Building the Coop

Many thanks to the guys at P2S for getting me hooked on this idea!

Our intention was to start off with half a dozen quail as our first venture into keeping livestock/poultry, then possibly expand the flock and get a few chickens too once we were comfortable with it.

We really loved the idea of being able to get fresh eggs every day, and know that they are not pumped full of chemicals and hormones. It is also a great way to get the kids involved with responsibilities like filling up their water/food, collecting eggs etc, a real hands on learning experience to teach them to value and respect animals and appreciate what work goes in to the food on our plates.

As with all things, I wanted to try and do this on a shoestring budget. We are planning on getting the Quails after winter so that gives me a fair amount of time to put a coop together. I have absolutely zero experience or skill with DIY so if I can do it then any brummy idiot can. The only tools I have used is a saw, drill and staple gun, so nothing fancy or difficult.

I got all of the timber for free as they were offcuts/scrap from the lumber yard at work, the hinges for the doors were stripped off an old door that was being thrown out and the screws I already had knocking about in the shed. the only thing I have actually paid for was the wire mesh, and to be honest I could probably have wombled that too if I had been patient and kept an eye on the skips, or tapped up a plasterer to see if he had some left over. Rather than use chicken wire which is too flimsy, or weld mesh that is too expensive I have opted to go for EML (plasterers metal lath) as it can be picked up for a fraction of the price of any alternative.

I started off with a basic frame, I didn't put supports at the ends as the legs will eventually be screwed through the ends to give strength there.

I am planning to do a double hutch type design, the top level will have a cage floor that the muck can fall through on to a tray, and the bottom level will have a solid WBP ply base. The plan is that we will start off half a dozen "pet" quails in the top for eggs, and then if we need to quarantine and for any reason, or to clean/maintain the coop then at least we can make use of the bottom deck. Also since it will have a solid floor if we decide to breed them for meat also then we can use that level for this purpose.

The footprint of the coop is roughly 4ft by 2ft and headroom is about 18 inches per level. I made up the two frames, screwed the OSB roofs on both and put the ply bottom in to the other, then stapled the mesh onto the sides etc.

Next the legs are screwed on to pull the whole thing together. I still need to staple the mesh on front and back and finish the doors off. Once it's finished we're hoping to paint the whole thing and get the kids involved, maybe make potato stamps to put eggs and chick designs on the frame.

So far the whole thing has cost me about £8 so needless to say I'm happy with the budget on this project. The most difficult thing is trying to find the time to get outside and finish it off, with two kids under the age of 3, 2 businesses and a full time job, time is my most precious commodity.

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