Coop Questions for Kentucky/Midwest
Cute chicks! Your best option is a shed type structure with lots of ventilation, and on the ground with perimeter predator protection, rather than off the ground. Walk-in interior rather than crawl- in, and no space under for rats, etc. I hope your photo is of a temporary pen, because chicken wire won't keep out predators! Hardware cloth over every opening, well secured. Then there's 'chicken math' to consider; build as big as you can! Mary
Also, if I put the coop directly at ground level, will my girls get damp if we have a big rainfall? Our yard area isn't flat, and the flat area where the girls will be is at he lowest point in our yard. We haven't had issues with major water collection there, but I would imagine it stays wet a little longer than desired.
The predators in my area are limited. We live in the country on our (crop) farm, but and our home is far from any wooded areas. We occasionally get opossum which is my biggest concern. Coyotes are in the area, but my husband hunts them, so they tend to keep their distance from our property. How do most predators enter the facilities normally? Dig underneath? Break through barriers? Finding weak spots in the structure? When they are free ranging?
Make sure that any drainage issues are fixed BEFORE your coop gets built! French drains, adding sand/ gravel to raise the site, ditches for runoff, anything, but don't have a very damp site. Hardware cloth costs more but is much safer. Horse fencing, the 2"x4" woven wire type, helps too. Predators will come calling for sure, and they all love chicken! Some will dig under, climb over, break through chicken wire, open latches, the works. Nobody complains here about too much security! Many of us learn the hard way about predator proofing, and it's very hard on our chickens. Mary
I think predators are going to roll out of the woodwork when young chicks get put outside. They are at their most vulnerable right now. I don't think it will take too much time before something realizes there is the possibility of an easy dinner and tests yours or my security. It just is what is.
Does anyone use non structural forms of protection? My husband had a spare security light (the kind that comes on when motion is detected) and I figured it wouldn't hurt. I have also heard that turning a radio on outside can keep skittish predators away. Any truth behind that? I've also seen people using electric fencing on the outside perimeter of the coop & run, but I feel like that could be dangerous to our dog, cats, and child.
As far as drainage goes, I think I will use your idea of concrete blocks instead of raising it. We don't ever have standing water in our yard. Part of our farm is right behind our house, and my husband is obsessed with making sure all of his farms drain properly. I just worry that the rain water will pass through that way as it drains off, being as its at the bottom of a hill. I will try to post a photo.
As far as the coop construction goes, I'm looking at possibly doing the frame with pallets and then covering the outside with barn wood. We just dismantled a barn from the 1930's and we have pallets galore... And I know all about chicken math, so we are building for growth. I'm fairly certain chicken math applies at the hardware store too... Every time I go, I think I only need another $20 in materials, but somehow end up spending much more. Haha what kind of latches are the best to use for people doors & egg collection doors?
And yes, I'm sure the predators will come out when the girls start staying outside. Im soooo thankful for helpful individuals on this site... Hopefully I can learn from others' mistakes without learning the hard way and losing members of our flock. We have already grown so attached to these girls! And I'm shocked at how entertaining the little clowns are. I was thinking they would be about as entertaining as a goldfish... Boy, was I wrong!
Excuse the mess, it's still a work in progress. And we are going to move it a bit to take advantage of the shade tree. And when the coop is built, we will add a roof over a portion of the run as well. The chickens access to the coop will be on the right side of the run, just to give you an idea of what I'm working with.
We have 100+ temps with high humidity in the peak of the summer and our winters can have a week or more of temps not reaching over 32 degrees. All of the chicks are breeds that are equipped for cold temps, as long as Rural King didn't have them labeled incorrectly, which I now know it a possibility.