This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
The following description of a combined poultry and pigeon house is condensed from an interesting communication made to Amateur Work. The ground at disposal measures 22 ft. by 8 ft., with walls on 3 sides; it is divided into 3 portions - a central covered-in house 6 ft. sq., and on each side a run 8 ft. sq. The house is divided into 2 unequal parts, one 6 ft. by 4 ft. for a covered shady run during hot or wet weather, and another 6 ft. by 2 ft. for a breeding house. The floor is sloped throughout from front to back, and trodden quite hard. The framework (Fig. 600) of the whole rests on a course of bricks, protecting it from damp and rendering it portable. The dimensions of the quartering for the construction of the house will be ground frame, and the upright joists and rafters are 4 8-ft. lengths of 3-in. by 3-in. for the 6-ft. sq. 2 1/2 in. sq. The joints employed are illustrated in Fig. G01, a being that of a corner of the bottom frame, 6 that of the upper frame with the upright, and c that of the cross pieces. In the larger division of the house, the cross pieces are placed 2 ft. from the ground as joists for the loose floor of the compartment reserved for fowls and egg-boxes, this floor forming at the same time a roof to the dry shed beneath.
In the smaller division of the bouse, the joists are 4 ft. from the ground; the lower part is set aside for nesting places, and the upper serves as a pigeon-loft extending to the roof. The object in putting the nests (for sitting) upon the ground is to give the eggs, during incubation, the benefit of the moisture of the earth. Hence the dry run underneath the larger compartment goes no farther than the wooden partition which intervenes. The upright which bisects the front of the house is intended for a stop for 2 large doors, hanging from the outer supports. The 8 rafters, each 3 1/2 ft. long, for the roof are simply nailed in position, the plank placed at the apex acting as a sort of keyboard, and the weight of the roofing material afterwards added being sufficient to make all secure. So far the framework may be made in the workshop, and taken to its place for putting together, temporarily strengthening it by nailing a few diagonal stays to it.
For roofing the building, sheet zinc is perhaps the most suitable material. Felt harbours vermin, requires early renewal, and necessitates a wooden roofing underneath it. Corrugated iron is expensive, and is very hot in the sun and very cold in time of frost; moreover, it wears badly, and soon begins to leak where nails are driven through. Zinc is one-third less expensive, looks as neat, is twice as durable, and can be fixed without trouble. For the roof, 63 sq. ft. of No. 10 zinc will be needed. The weight should be 17 lb. to the sheet, measuring 6 ft. 8 in. wide; 3 such sheets will be sufficient, and if one of them be cut in two, they may be overlapped an inch or so, and, with a few nails, all soldering will be avoided. Out of the same quantity, 3 pieces 12 in. wide and 3 ft. long may be cut. With these, a semicircular ridge, to bend over the key-board of the roof, can be formed; and if care has been taken not to carry the sheets of zinc quite up to the top, a species of ventilator will be the result, the air having free access to the channel running the whole length of the building, whilst direct draught is obviated, and no rain-water can enter. The roof will have eaves extending 4 in. from the sides of the house.
In addition to the ventilation provided by the channel on the crown of the roof, it will be found that the zinc plates, resting on the rafters, will not fit closely to the 2 sides of the house, but an aperture will be left underneath the eaves. This aperture should not bo wholly closed in as a well-ventilated but not a draughty roost-ing-house is a necessity. A wooden strip 2 1/2 in. wide should, however, be nailed horizontally under the eaves.
For boarding in the 4 sides, the cheapest, warmest, and most weather-tight material is 6-in. match-lining (it is practically 5 1/2 in. in width). No planing will be wanted, except that which it has received at the mills. The tongue-and-groove method of joining each strip to its fellow, ensures the air-tightness of the interior, and prevents the possibility of the boards themselves warping; in addition, the superadded beading lends an ornamental appearance to the exterior. This match-lining is bought by the "square" of 16 ft., and 3 such squares, at l1s. 6d. each, will give ample material.
The principal distinguishing feature of this poultry-house is the facility with which every part of the interior can be reached without requiring to go inside. Wherever a place is inconvenient to reach the chances are cleansing will be neglected and dirt accumulate, a state of things fatal to success. Therefore, in the whole arrangement of the compartments, every corner is easily accessible; hence the structure consists almost entirely of doors. But the match-lining throughout being used horizontally, the number of doors is not obtrusive, as many of them are hardly noticeable.