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.
A useful size for a hencoop (Fig. 594) to place against a wall is about 4 ft. long, 2 ft. wide, 2 1/2 ft. high in front, and 3 1/4 ft. at the back. The framework will consist of 6 uprights o, a bottom plate 6, top plates c d, and rafters e. All the wood but that for the rafters may be 11/2 in. sq.; the rafters are 11/2 in. wide, 1 in. deep, and 2 1/2 ft. long. The bottom plate is fitted to the uprights, at about 2 in. above the floor, by halving each into the other. The top plates are fitted on in the same manner, and nailed up. This done, the rafters are cut out to a depth of about half their thickness, and fitted into the top plates. The roof may he formed of 7-in. feather-edge boards, long enough to overhang about 3 in. at each end, fastened by nailing them to the rafters, commencing at the bottom edge and lapping about 1 in. as they proceed; or it may be flat boarded, covered with felt, and thoroughly tarred. The right end is occupied by a door, the left end is boarded up like the roof, and the 3 front spaces are closed by galvanized iron wire netting. The door frame is made of wood 1 1/2 in. wide and 1 in. thick, and both it and the triangular space above it are filled in with netting. The floor is of 3/4-in. deal boards laid the short way. Perches must be fastened across inside.
The wall forms the back of the coop; therefore the coop should be tied to it by means of iron stays driven into the wall and nailed or screwed to the frame of the coop. A strip of sheet zinc having one edge driven into a course in the wall, and the other edge nailed down on the roof, will prevent wet finding its way down into the coop.
Fig. 595 is a plan of a fowl-house of more ambitious dimensions, arranged at the end of garden or yard, so that the back a and sides b c are formed by the walls of the enclosure, thus saving expense. Commencing at one end, the compartment d is a passage giving access to the nests e, and closed by a door f; g is the roosting-place, fitted with perches h, reached by a door i in front, and leading into the run j, also approached through the door k. In arranging the construction, it is beet to pursue the following order. First make the front framing, which will consist of a bottom rail 3 in. sq. reaching from b to c at about 6 ft. from the wall a. Into this will be mortised at intervals a series of uprights, about 3 in. by 2 in. and 6 ft. high, these being nowhere more than 3 ft. apart, and in some places less to suit the positions of the doors. A top rail will next be fitted over the tenoned tops of all the uprights. At about 8 ft. from the ground a wall plate 3 in. by 2 in. is nailed to the wall a, and then the rafters are fitted to the wall plate and the front rail. Before proceeding to roof over and close in the framing, it is well to complete the internal fittings.
These are better shown in Figs. 59G, 597. The 3 perches h are rough poles with the bark on; they are arranged in descending order, and are sufficiently secured at each end by dropping them loosely into wooden blocks nailed to the partitions. The nests e are raised a little above the ground, and closed in on all sides, including the top, a small hole being cut in front just admitting the hen. The fowls enter the nests e from the house g; the nests are provided with doors along the back, opening; into d, both for the removal of the eggs and for the occasional cleansing of the nests. The front of the house, as far as the partition separating the run j from the roostiug-house g, may be covered with galvanized iron wire netting, the remainder is boarded. The doors f i may be of simple construction, such as 3 or 4 boards placed side by side and fastened together by cross pieces nailed to them. The portions I m of the front, coming between the doors, may be " weather boarded," i.e. covered with feather-edged boards overlapping each other and running horizontally. The roof is best boarded flat with 5/8-in. boards, then covered with felt and well tarred.
A zinc gutter along the front adds to the comfort, and a piece of 3-in. zinc pipe inserted in the roof over the middle of the house g forms an efficient ventilator, when surmounted by an overhanging cap to keep out rain. The doors / i, being heavy, will need T-hinges, while butts will answer for k.
A rough pigeon-coop, only suitable for placing under the shelter of a roof, may be made as shown in Fig. 598, say 3 ft. long, 2 ft. wide, 20 in. high in the sides and 29 in. to the top of the roof. For the ends a, 3 strips of 8-in. by 1-in. deal board may be nailed to 2 cross pieces 2 in. by 1 in.
The floor b is of 3/4 -in. deal board laid the short way. The back and half the roof may be boarded in, while in the front are fixed 2 strips c 1 in. sq., joining the ends, and perforated at intervals of l 1/4 in. by galvanized iron wires.
At each end is attached a nest box d 18 in. long, 9 in. wide, and 16 in. high, with sloping top; it is made of 1/2-in. stuff nailed together. The nest box is entered by the holes in the ends a. One or more of the front wires may be made movable for the egress and ingress of the birds.
A house for 7 couples of pigeons, adapted for hanging against a wall having a warm aspect, is shown in Fig. 599. The principal part of the house consists of a box of 1-in. deal, measuring 3 ft. long, 2 ft. wide, and 15 in. deep. Lengthwise it is divided into 3 compartments by 2 partitions a of 1/2-in. wood, and these are supported by 3 upright partitions b of 3/4-in. wood. The bottom of the box forms the back of the house. The front of the house is set back 3 in., so that the sides and floors of all the compartments project that distance beyond their entrances. The object of this is to secure greater privacy for each pair of birds. As the top of the box must be rendered sloping in order to throw off the rain, by the addition of 2 boards c, the triangular space thus enclosed forms a convenient compartment for a 7th pair of birds. The 2 boards c are best dovetailed together at the top, and protected by a zinc cap; they are secured to the top of the box by the intervention of 2 triangular strips which afford a solid bearing.
The entrance holes indicated by the dotted lines measure about 6 in. high and 3 or 4 in. wide, and are cut in the positions shown by means of a keyhole saw.