a few (ok lots) of questions...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by cptbahama, Jan 20, 2011.

  1. cptbahama

    cptbahama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 13, 2011
    augusta, georgia
    I have several questions as we are just getting started in this endeavor..

    We ordered our chicks online last night. The following is a list of our order, we will be keeping 7 or 8 and folks I work with are taking the rest..
    I welcome your comments on my choice of breeds. We don't need many eggs as we only eat a half dozen a week or so, so we plan on giving the majority of them to neighbors and family.

    Australorps - 4
    New Hampshire Red - 2
    Buff Orpington - 2
    Rhode Island Red - 4
    Barred Plymouth Rock - 2
    Golden Laced Wyandotte - 2
    Silver Laced Wyandotte - 2

    Right now I am designing and ready to begin constructing the coop. I am putting some serious money and time in this b/c I think we'll be doing it for a long time.
    The outside dimensions are 5' x 10' x 6" tall. There will be a full size door. The henhouse will be enclosed in the coop and will be elevated 3 feet off the ground and attached to one end. The dimensions of the henhouse are 5' x 4' x 3' tall. In the henhouse I'm building two perches out of 2 x 3's (rounding the tops with a right angle grinder) and 4 removable nest boxes made of plywood. Each nest box dimensions are 12" wide x 14" deep with a 10" back height and 6" front height. The nest boxes are removable to hose them out when needed. We are getting all standard size hens so those dimensions sound ok right?

    Security... we have foxes, raccoons and coyotes. I will bury chicken wire a few inches down and around the perimeter of the coop. For the netting or fencing, whatever you want to call it, I just bought some vinyl coated (black) 16 gauge welded wire mesh 1" x 1". I was told the black would blend in with the surroundings more and not be as noticeable as just galvanized metal color. I almost got the green color. Has anyone used the green and do you like it over the black?

    The entire coop will be covered with metal roofing and sealed tightly against any climbing predators.

    I saw a henhouse design that had a rear door that opens to allow access to the entire henhouse. My idea is to have the floor of the henhouse one big piece of thin plywood that can slide out to dump the media and poop into the compost pile, hose off if needed and slide right back in. The nest boxes will mount to the inside walls of the henhouse so they won't be bothered when sliding the plywood in and out for cleaning. I'm thinking about 5 inches off the floor of the henhouse, that sound ok? Remember the inside height of the henhouse will be 3'.

    If I just dump the henhouse contents in a hole in the ground, will this compost alone over time or do I need to build a compost box? I have a small apple orchard I plan on using the manure for and I know I need to compost it first so it doesn't burn apple trees and plants in the garden.

    Can I add the dimensions of the henhouse together with the dimensions of the run as a total for the coop? I mean when calculating dimensions to see how many chickens can be housed comfortably is it like this:

    5' x 10' run = 50 sq ft

    + 5' x 4' henhouse = 20 sq ft

    TOTAL 70 sq ft for coop...correct? or is it just 50 sq ft b/c the henhouse is enclosed in the run?

    I'll drill vent-holes in the henhouse. As far as venting in the summer, is that sufficient with the opening left open? I mean the doorway the chickens use to enter the henhouse, should I put some kind of flap on there for winter? And do most people use a lamp in the henhouse during winter for warmth and to keep the daylight lond for laying?

    The feeder and waterer I will buy from the local farm store and hang from the bottom of the henhouse.

    The media for inside the henhouse, is hay / straw okay? I think cedar shavings is more popular but I think that would get expensive after a while. The media for the run, is this necessary or is a dirt/ grass floor ok to start with?

    I realize there are a lot of questions here. I welcome any advice, comments and suggestions. Thanks very much for your time.
  2. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

    Aug 17, 2008
    Larry, KS
    My Coop
    Quote:I'm not sure I understand about the front height of the nest boxes- is it a slanted roof on the box? 6" is awfully short for a hen to get in. All of the perches should be 2x4" stock lumber, flat side up for them to have their feet flat while sleeping- Chickens don't grip like other birds, and this is best for them.

    Quote:That sounds fine, but I have never removed my floor in my little coop- having designed it this way, as well...I just sweep it all out into a wheelbarrow.

    Quote:If you go to my BYC page, there is an index of lots of articles regarding this type of stuff- that might be helpful to you!

    You've put a lot of thought into this and I know you'll do great!
  3. WhySayWhat

    WhySayWhat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2010
    One quick thing I noticed...Cedar shavings are NOT okay as they pose a health risk to the respirtory sytems of chickens. Other than that, I'll leave it up to the experts that have experience in building (I am just starting mine as well).
  4. paceysgl5

    paceysgl5 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 20, 2011
    Quote:I am not an expert and am just building a coop myself but have done a lot of research so I'll try to answer your questions. Regarding the coop/run size they seem too small for 8 chickens. Rule of thumb is 4 sq ft/chicken inside and 10 sq ft outside. Which, for 8 chickens, would be 32 sq ft inside and 80 sq ft outside. You currently have dimensions for approx 5 chickens to live comfortably.

    You should only need 2 nest boxes. The height does seem very short. I've seen it typically more like a cube - say 12x12x12 or something. 6" is really short.

    Your run sounds like it will be secure, but make sure you run that fencing down and also out to keep out predators. Any venting/windows/open doors in the coop need to have fencing too.

    heating seems to be a hot topic here. general consensus is they don't need heat.

    No, don't do cedar shavings. Pine seems to be the preferred flooring material, with hay in the nest boxes. That is what we planned to do.

    Also, keeping the food/water outside the coop seems odd. You may end up putting the hens inside at night, despite the well-made run, to keep out predators, and they'll want food & water in there.

    Not sure about compost as that will be new to us too.

    Good luck!! [​IMG]

    Edited to add: also try to make your roosts about 80" in length - 10" per chicken is preferred. Some say 5-10" each but it's better to have more.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2011
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi, welcome to the forum [​IMG]

    Those are all nice breeds, nothing to particularly comment on in there, if there are individual chicks with less-friendly or less-calm temperaments just make sure those are among the ones that go to the other people you're going in with LOL Did you order them straight-run or all pullets? Be aware that even if you ordered all pullets there will almost certainly be at least one probably several cockerels in there, that you will want to figure out what to do with; if straight-run, remember that it will NOT be a 50/50 sex ration (except rarely), it is quite possible to order (say) 6 straight-run chicks and have them ALL turn out cockerels. Maybe you know all this already, but "uncertainty as to how many pullets and cockerels you'll have" is something to definitely build into your planning.

    20 sq ft indoors and 50 sq ft outdoors is kind of, um, un-ample for 7-8 chickens. Not to say you may not be able to make it work, especially if you are in an always-very-mild climate and end up with very placid hens, but if you could enlarge things you would not regret it and it might avoid you some problems. More space really does make a big difference, not only in their behavior (both happiness-wise and reducing-chances-of-cannibalism-wise) but also in ease of management/sanitation.

    For 8 hens you really only need 2-3 nestboxes. Of course you cna make more if you enjoy it [​IMG] and as long as they're not taking up floorspace there is nothing WRONG with that, but most will go unused. Actually even if you have 2-3 nestboxes, they'll probably almost entirely use just one of them [​IMG]

    Not sure I understand your nestbox heights, if you mean floor-to-ceiling clearance is really only between 6" and 10" then that is much too low-ceilinged. But maybe you mean something else?

    I have read of people planning to build sliding-floor designs but honestly am rather skeptical... you would probably want to at least find some people who've been using that setup for SEVERAL YEARS now and remain satisfied by it, and then copy their design exactly. Or maybe just plan on a normal floor and normal cleaning measures. If you want, it is certainly easy enough to design things so that you can edge a wheelbarrow (or tarp) under your cleanout door and then just scrape everything out into it, if that is your goal.

    Please don't rely on drilled holes for ventilation -- not even with a 3" holesaw bit -- for ventilation. That is just WAY inadequate for most situations. I have no clue what climate you're in, and that will make a big difference for how you design your ventilation, but think in terms of square feet not square inches.

    You might want to take a look at my ventilation page (link in .sig below) also maybe my cold coop page (ditto) since you are asking about winter arrangements.

    Cedar shavings are, um, questionable on mainly-theoretical basis (few people actually have problems with them, esp. if ventilation is ample, but there are some concerns)... but frankly most places PINE shavings are cheaper in horse-stall-size bales anyhow. Hay or straw are real hard to clean out and maintain (in many but not all peoples' opinions), unless you are using chopped straw but that is hard for most people to get/produce.

    I would suggest devoting an evening or six to just browsing this forum, whatever threads' titles catch your eye, and you will get a really good sense of the variety of things people do in their coops and the pros/cons of the commonest choices. It will also answer many of your other questions that I'm too lazy to addres in this reply LOL

    Good luck, have fun,

  6. cptbahama

    cptbahama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 13, 2011
    augusta, georgia
    Thanks for all the replies, great info. Here's a pic with the nestbox dimensions. I thought it should be lower in front for the chicken to step into. Can someone post a pic of their nestbox?

  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Aha, see, I did misunderstand [​IMG] As long as there is no low 'roof' on it, your dimensions are just fine, it will make a good nestbox [​IMG]

  8. cptbahama

    cptbahama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 13, 2011
    augusta, georgia
    Pat, I wasn't very clear with my description. A pic = a thousand words, right?
    I read all three of your write-ups. The venting makes a lot of sense. I so far have read nowhere of this issue. I drew some massive vents into my henhouse plans. And the mud in the run was very helpful as well. I plan on putting down maybe two types of mulch; double ground hardwood and pine bark. Then throw in a couple bags of gravel and sand each. This is all such good stuff and I'm glad to have started on the forum before I erected this coop. I posted a "before" pic on my page. I need to move the ugly brick pile, I think the previous owners had a bbq pit there. I'm putting the coop in place of it.
    thanks again-
  9. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Pine shavings are not all that expensive, especially when you realize it comes in compressed bales and will fluff up to provide a whole lot of bedding. One of my coops is 4x8 and it took two bales, which will stay there for six months. I add some every couple of weeks, but usually just a bucketful at a time. I use it in nest boxes, too.
  10. rebecky1305

    rebecky1305 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2009
    Lansing, MI
    Your before pic doesn't show up for some reason. If you have enough bricks use them to surround the run to help keep preditors from digging under.

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