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Will Chickens Use A Dog Flap?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hello,

 

This is my first year raising chickens, and my first year having them over the winter. I converted a wooden dog house into a chicken coop. Their water access is always outside the coop as there really isn't any room for it inside. Plus, I just don't want any water in there to keep it from getting wet. Because of this, I'd like them to have outside access most of the time. But that means I'd have to leave the door open. The biggest issue is the door faces north. There's no way to move it. So the cold north winds will blow into the coop with the door open. I still have the clear plastic flaps from when the dogs used the house and was wondering if the chickens would figure out how to use them.

 

I'm also a bit worried about whether or not the chickens will stay warm enough. I only have 4 chickens (2 Barred rocks, 1 Brahma and 1 orpington mix). The coop is fully insulated on the sides, bottom and roof in addition to the pine shavings and straw on the bottom. The nesting boxes are not insulated. I'd say there's about 6-8 square feet with about a 2.5 ft height to it. I don't feel comfortable putting in a heat source. Will the chickens stay warm enough or should I get some more chickens for some more body heat? I live in northern Illinois.

post #2 of 8

Your coop is already at max capacity with your chosen breeds. The issue isn't whether or not they will be warm enough, it's whether or not your coop has adequate ventilation to exhaust moisture and ammonia with all the insulating you've done. Frostbite is usually caused by moisture that can't escape. If you're worried about drafts blowing through the door, you can make a decent wind break by placing a hay bale or two a foot or two in front of the opening. The door should be shut at night to protect the flock from nighttime predators.

post #3 of 8

2' X 4' is not much room for four good sized chickens.  Is there a run?  Will their food dishes be inside?  The nest boxes are inside as well?

Is the coop to be used by the chickens only at night?  Questions to be considered. I have seen nest boxes with flaps over the front where the hens had to push through the flap to get into the nest.  I'm not sure, but rather expect that chickens could learn to use a doggie door.

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Sorry for lacking in details.

 

The roof lifts up. I have it propped up an inch for ventilation. There is a wooden ledge that hangs over the gap to keep the wind out. The nesting boxes are on the outside, so the square footage I quoted is for them to move around or roost. Should take photos as it's tough to describe.

 

Yes, they have a run. The run was 20ft long by 5 ft wide. The recent wind storm destroyed it. I plan on rebuilding it soon.They still are contained within a fenced in area, but they can get out if they really want to and birds of pray can get at them from above. I have not had any issues with this though, and since it's been getting colder, they seem to be content to stay within the fence. And the chickens usually only use the coop to sleep or roost in during bad weather.

 

Since it's been getting colder too, I've been keeping a container of food in their coop for them to have total access to 24/7. It does not take much room at all. I still scatter some food and treats outside so they can scratch and eat some of the grass too.

 

The barred rocks don't seem to be bothered by the weather. The brahma seems a little less tough than the barred, and the orpington mix seems to hate the chilly weather.


Edited by Cheesay - 11/19/15 at 1:53pm
post #5 of 8

Yes, chickens quickly learn to navigate plastic door flaps. All my coop pop holes have them to keep out flies and cold drafts. Even my baby chicks lean to navigate them by age five weeks.

 

But if I were you, I would rig up a vestibule on the door and have the entrance offset  so the chickens enter from the sides of it. That way, the north wind won't blow directly into the coop.

 

Also, I hope you have plans for a larger, more suitable coop in the future. Get a dog and let her live in the doggie house coop.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input. I may just try the flap now. I will still close the door at night or on really cold days.

 

While we're talking about the coop, I found some older pictures of it. I was under the impression that the coop did not need to be that big if the chickens had a nice sized run to flex their wings.

 

 

 

This pic shows the doors. The run is not what I ended up building. It was just temporary. My planned run was much bigger and taller. I can't really add a side access. If I do that, the side door would be located outside of the larger fenced in area. You can see the pvc fence in the first pic. And yeah, it was a bit of a mess in the making lol.

 

 

 

This pic shows the nesting boxes.

 

post #7 of 8

Ventilation is key, as has been said.  I have my opening into the run offset and that sure does block the wind!  As has been suggested by @ azygous, you can do the same thing with hay bales or anything that will give them a "hallway" with a turn into the coop.  

 

They do not need access to food 24/7.  They don't eat at night anyway so all you'll be doing is feeding late night mice.  

post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheesay View Post
 

Thanks for the input. I may just try the flap now. I will still close the door at night or on really cold days.

 

While we're talking about the coop, I found some older pictures of it. I was under the impression that the coop did not need to be that big if the chickens had a nice sized run to flex their wings.

 

 

 

This pic shows the doors. The run is not what I ended up building. It was just temporary. My planned run was much bigger and taller. I can't really add a side access. If I do that, the side door would be located outside of the larger fenced in area. You can see the pvc fence in the first pic. And yeah, it was a bit of a mess in the making lol.

 

 

 

This pic shows the nesting boxes.

 

You can get by with a coop that's a bit too small if you have a very large run and the coop isn't the only shelter. If the coop is the only place in the run that they can get out of the elements, then no, you can't skimp on coop size.

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