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what do I need in a chicken coop

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I'm new to having chickens and I currently have about 5 light brahmas that are about 4 weeks old. I'm getting ready to order 25 more. I need to build a chicken coop. does anyone have any plans they could share on here? I plan on free ranging my chickens. I want a coop that I can move to different parts of the yard. I plan on giving them freedom to go anywhere in the yard and in and out of the coop. So here are some of my questions.
1. how many square feet per chicken do I need inside my coop?
2. Do I need a nesting box for every chicken?
3. Do I need to insulate the coop? if so, how do I keep the chickens from tearing the bat insulation down?
4. Is it ok to use pressure treated wood?
5. do light brahmas need heat in the winter time? I've read that they are very cold hardy birds, but of course everything has it's limits.

thanks everyone for helping the beginner.

post #2 of 8

The style of the chicken tractor you are wanting to make depends on the part of the country you are in.
Southern states that have very hot summers (high 90s & triple digits) need more open air style coops to help keep the chickies cool and well ventilated.
Northern states need coops that have the cold winters in mind with good ventilation.

Must haves;
**Hardy cloth (no chicken wire as chicken wire is not predator proof)
**nest boxes. If you have a small number you could get away with just a couple of nest boxes; however as you are getting more it would not hurt to have at least 6 boxes so that they have more choices to decide which box everyone will pile into to lay their eggs.
**comfortable roosts. You need the roost to be wide enough that their feet are flat on it in cold freezing temps. This helps them protect and keep their precious toes from frostbite.

I will let others answer your question on insulation. My coop is open air and not insulated. We do not get very many freezing days here so it is not an issue.

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post #3 of 8

Oh yeah, Dad used treated lumber on our coop. The chickens don't chew on wood so it is no problem.
Most breeds can weather cold weather as long as you keep their coop draft free. We wrap our coop with construction plastic and it works well for us.

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post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

thanks for answering. Now my next questions.
1. what is hardy cloth? are you talking about a heavy gage wire mesh?
2. would 6 boxes really be enough for 30 egg layers?
3. by a roost, would you mean a round rod somewhere in the coop that they could perch on? enough for all of them at the same time?

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

thanks, I'm in indiana so I'll have to keep the winters in mind. How many square feet per chicken do I need?

post #6 of 8

It is welded wire that is 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch squares. It is very good to use.
Chicken wire is quite flimsy and only good in keeping the chickens in or out of spots you do not want them in. A predator can break through chicken wire very easily.

You will be amused and amazed on the nesting antics of hens. When picking out a box they get the I want what she has syndrome. It will not matter if there is a dozen free boxes. We have 4 boxes and every day they use 2 of these plus a couple of the girls are using the cat box that I got for the Silkies. Ofcourse, not sure how my egg customers will feel that I got their eggs out of the cat box lau

Leave room to add but start with 6 for 30 hens. Watch what they do, if you feel more would work better than you can add to it.
Oh that brings up the BIG TIP:  Always allow yourself growing room in making your new coop. Chicken Math is a sneaky critter. tongue

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post #7 of 8

Roosts can be a thick limb or a 2x4 with the edges rounded. Sharp corners can bruise them when they are perched and are uncomfortable.

Square footage varies from person to person on what they will tell you. Normally it is 2 sq ft per bird to 4 sq ft per bird depending on the size of the breed. If the chickens are going to be in the coop and run all the time I would go for the 4 sq foot per bird. If you will be letting them free range you can get away with the 2 sq ft as they will be using the coop to lay eggs and roost in at night so space is not as big of an issue. You still want them to be comfortable inside the coop.

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post #8 of 8

Hard cloth is also called Hard Ware cloth it is a wire mesh and it is heavier gage wire than chicken wire and  available in smaller wire spacing 1/2" is good for baby chicks as they can't get head through it. 2 x 4's layed flat so chickens have 3 1/2" to cover their feet to keep warm is better than round rods for winter cold. Stuff I've learned from this great site. Good Luck with your chicks thumbsup

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