I have been looking around the site for several months as my wife and I build up the courage to take the plunge. Well this past week it happened. My wife and I started the conversion of an existing horse "structure" (not sure the proper name) into a chicken coop.
We had the concrete floor poured several months ago, just in case we took the plunge (and because the cement trucks were there already for another project). To give everyone a sense of scale the existing building is about 14 ft. wide and 10 ft from the back wall to the leading edge of the concrete.
Step one: The roof for the run
As I stated in the title, I may have let my engineering degree get the best of me, but we decided that a 14 x 20 ft run should be enough room for the flock. Given the 8-10 sq. ft. per bird guideline we should have space for approximately 30 birds outside. We have no intention of going that high, but more space is always better.
Step two: The internal coop
With the roof in place, we could start to close in the portion of the structure that will be the coop. The goal was 90-100 sq ft. to match with the ~30 birds that the run can hold. We had 3 basic goals for the coop:
1. Plenty of windows for light and ventilation. we ended up with 4 total. 2 fast the west and are fairly unprotected and 2 fast east and open into the run.
2. Internal storage - we ended up with about 15-20 sq. ft. of storage in the coop located behind the man door in the pictures. the other nice part about this small storage room is that we have access to the nesting boxes without going into the actually chicken area.
3. Poop control and clean-ability - this is where the engineer got the best of me. The plan is for there to be a large door that can be opened to clean the coop. Behind that door will be 4 large totes that we reside under the roosts with the intent of catching a vast majority of the poop. I am going to try (and this is where you all tell me that I am crazy) to turn these into worm bins by keeping the bins 60% full of dry, shredded leaves. the leaves mixed with the poop should balance my greens/browns out and allow the worms to do there thing. if it doesn't work then the totes will just collect the poop for me. The other added benefit to the door is the ability to easily push all coop contents out and clean the coop
The 90% finished external view (I still need to cut in the door for the chickens and close up a few small gaps)
Now we are onto finishing things, but I had a few questions for the group at large:
1. To insulate or not to insulate? We live in Ohio so the winters can get cold, but not usually crazy cold.
2. Height of nesting boxes? My thought was to put in 6 boxes stacked in two rows of three. The first row would be about 20 inches of the ground and the second would be about 36" off the ground. Now for those of you doing math I know that is not enough for 30 birds, but the current plan is that we will not have more than 12 hens laying at any one time. The rest of the population would be "meat birds" as my 4 year old likes to call them.
3. Any other advice for a complete chicken novice would be greatly appreciated.