We are R and T and are new to this forum. We have been thinking about raising laying hens and have been busy reading and planning for the day when we will be bringing home our adopted girls. And with such a great and experienced cloud of witnesses to glean wisdom from we feel assured of success. Reading the wealth of information from this site has only increased our determination to the task.
We have recently retired and moved from our home in Mukilteo Washington state to our new home and new life in Crossville Tn. We live just outside the city and when we bought our home it was with chickens in mind.
Our only child that is at home is a lovely rescue Sheltie Caleb. He is a Tri Colored and is very sweet and gentle. We got him 4 years ago and he is now 11yrs. Our neighbors have three chickens which have the run of the neighborhood, two rosters and a hen which look like Road Island Reds? Not all the neighbors are excited about them running loose. This will not be the case with our girls. I have spoken to all my other neighbors next to us and they said they would be excited to have chickens next door.
Crossville is very much a retirement area as taxes and cost of living is very low. People are very friendly and obliging. The temps are somewhat mild, 80's the high and teens the average lows. Our home has a lovely back yard, about 100 x 100. About half is yard and the other half is trees and is pretty much tiger country. We are cleaning it up and will be landscaping for a free range area for the girls. We will be plants grains and grasses for the girls to thrive on.
Please read the following and give input as to how I might change things in the vision we now have.
We will be starting our new chicken family with 8 - 12 Speckled Sussex. They seem to be handsome and have the right temperament we enjoy.
We are thinking of permanently building the coop under our attached backyard deck. For safety and ease.
The coop will be, 2 phases. Phase one will be;
5'd x 7'w x 4'h and 2 ' off of the ground.
Insulated 2x2 construction and sheeted with 3/8 plywood inside and out.
Nesting boxes will be attached to outside and have 2 boxes and one brooding area all insulated. 2' H x 4'W x 18" D total area.
Coop will be wired 110v with water inside for pressured water pan with cover over its basin. We will make a 3" PVC feeder with 2 feeding holes from T style connectors. The coop will be heated with a temp control heat element that screws into socket from above. A timer and lights about 3600 Kelvin's in color will be set for 14 hours a day with LED lighting and a fixture recycled from house remodel.
Vents will be louvered able to open and close ( recycled from replacing house HVACs registers) on walls around the bottom and top so as to create cross ventilation sufficient to keep birds cool in summer, warm in the winter and enough air movement to keep them healthy. ( I will be able to use the cool air from under the house to help keep summer temps down with a blower.)
2 windows each side will be on the 2 outside walls to allow nature light into the coop. We will place a thermometer in one of the windows so we can check on temps inside the coop.
Cleaning the coop will be eased by scrap vinyl floor. With Mulched leafs and a trap door in the bottom with a utility trailer to catch and transplant to compost pile. Accessed by a wall swinging open on hinges.
Coop door will be a sliding version weighted and bottom of door will go below floor so as to not allow predators access.
Coop will have perches at least three inside. Hanging swing perch and other perches under the deck area but outside the coop.
Coop will be painted and trimmed to look like a faux old cabin with distressed wood look, a brown with a red dry brush effect.
Phase 2 will be a run.
Run will be solid floor made from 2x4 with tongue and groove 3/4 plywood. dimensions will be 7'w x 15' L just about 6 " off of the ground with a trap door in middle to allow access to sweep the Run out onto a tarp and deposit into the compost pile. Vinyl flooring will be used to face the floor with and 6 " base around perimeter.
Very large faux windows will make up the two walls facing the outside with 1/2 wielded wire clothe. Also the other side all open with framed cloth mess of the same size. I am thinking of a 1 foot wide belly band around the bottom to help protect the girls from wind . The run will enclose the coop all around except the wall where to nesting boxes are installed.
We what do you all think. How can this be a bad plan.
Thank you for your input.