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New coop: Do I need a run and/or power?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

      My family and a few of our friends are looking to start raising backyard chickens. We will be “hosting” the hens since our friends do not have enough land. Instead of a farm co-op, we'll call it a coop-op. I tried to find answers to these questions on-line so feel free to just send me links if there are some that I missed.

 

Here are the specs:

Central NJ

2.25 acres + >1 acre common area (meadow) where they can forage

Regular sightings of red foxes and hawks

12+ hens expected, but room to grow is not bad

 

Do I need a run?

     I plan to have the hens forage most of the daylight hours on our lawn and in our meadow. I like the idea of a coop without a run because I can more easily move the coop since we are not yet 100% sure on a permanent location. I don't want to mess around with fencing or any type.

 

Do I need electricity?

     The coop will be located in a place where we don't currently have electricity. Extension cords won't be practical for the long term and definitely not during lawn mowing season. If I have chickens who can handle the cold, don't I still need to defrost the water or will it stay unfrozen in the coop? Is solar a good cost effective option? I could also run cords during the coldest winter months.

 

   A local purveyor, which I trust, sells coops from the Hen House. We are currently thinking the 4'x6' coop or the 6'x10' combination. I may be open to going to the 6'x12' combination if I have to go with a run since the price isn't much more and I'd be already going with something fairly immovable.

 

Thank you,

B34N

post #2 of 7

You don't 'need' a run, but what are your plans if you have to go out of town for a few days?  I guess since there are several of you going in on this you may have that area covered - letting the chickens in ad out and such every day, if not, I'd build some sort of run for them.  I'm not sure any of those coops will give you room to expand past 12 hens - questionable if they would even hold a dozen comfortably (depending on how many sqft/bird you subscribe to - most people say 4, others more, others less.  Average of 4sqft/bird gives you room for 6-9 birds depending on the coop.  Since you have several people helping - I'd consider building your own coop.  You can build based on any of those designs for a fraction of the cost.  Prefab coops are rubbish - either overpriced or of terrible quality, often times - both...

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post #3 of 7

Welcome to BYC!

A run is always handy, even when your plan is to free range - because there are times might need to confine your flock (ie when a predator has taken a liking to your flock and you need to pen them up for a bit while you wait for it to move on/deal with it, when you want to sort/catch birds, for treatment purposes, for breeding or integration separation, nest training, etc).  It is one of those things that is best to have and not need rather than need and not have as the times that can arise where the need for one would present itself are usually not on a schedule that allows for you to take the time to build one. 

Electricity is one of those things that could also be counted in the good to have and not need category.  I have made it through all my years of chicken keeping without ever having a wired coop - but that doesn't mean that there haven't been times it sure would have been handy.  If it is an option I would do it.

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post #4 of 7
1) They only need a run if you are ever planning on keeping them locked up. This is useful sometimes, if you have an attack by a predator, or cannot be home, a contained run is very useful. Do you need a run? No you do not, I do not have one. I do have a broiler pen, it works very nicely for containing mry chicks until they are large enough to freerange.
2) you only need electricity for 4weeks. That is how long it takes chicks to grow their adult feathers and no longer need heat. I use an extension cord for those 4weeks. It is inconvenient but temporary and unavoidable.
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the advice. I'll go with a run and most likely the larger 6x12 combination. Now I need to figure out what upgrades and accessories I should consider: Epoxy floor?wire over windows (already has screens), gable vents, extra ventilation, litter tray with clean out lid, insulated ceiling, feed bins?

 

The chicks/hens will stay in a warmed garage at one of the coop-op member until they have their adult feathers.


Edited by B34N - 5/10/16 at 5:16am
post #6 of 7
Make wire over your windows a priority. Should be standard, not an upgrade, screens will stop nothing from getting into your coop.
Extra ventilation is always a great idea.
The rest is mostly preference.
post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by B34N View Post

 

Do I need electricity?

     The coop will be located in a place where we don't currently have electricity. Extension cords won't be practical for the long term and definitely not during lawn mowing season. If I have chickens who can handle the cold, don't I still need to defrost the water or will it stay unfrozen in the coop? Is solar a good cost effective option? I could also run cords during the coldest winter months.

 

You don't NEED electricity, but it sure makes things easy in the winter.  Dig an 18" (minimum) trench, drop electrical CONDUIT on the bottom, backfill 6", put a 3/4" water line in, and fill in the rest.

 

Solar is never cost effective if you can run mains power, and you won't be using it for heating.

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