Adapting a coop kit

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Coykoi, Sep 17, 2016.

  1. Coykoi

    Coykoi Just Hatched

    48
    8
    19
    Sep 6, 2016
    Hi all,

    I started out with a coop kit (I know, they're not very good but I didn't want to sink a lot of money right now (and that I didn't have) until I knew that this is something that I really wanted to do long term and until I knew what the best setup for me would be. I figure it'll last me a couple of years, and by that time I'll know what the "dream coop" needs to be. This current one has two enclosed coop areas on top of a long run. For the 3-4 hens that I'm going to have, I leaned toward this unit in order to get the most run that I could. I think the best use is to designate one of the coops as the nest box, which leaves one as the roost. Once I set up the unit it was obviously that one coop enclosure is going to be too small for 3-4 standard hens to roost in. I'm thinking two would be max in the space. What I'm considering is to enclose in the run area directly below the coop on the three screened sides and partially on the run side, thus doubling the size of the roosting area. This would mean the hens that take the "bottom bunk" would be roosting a few inches off the ground. I don't need to worry about freezing temperatures and the area that the coop is in is the highest/driest area of the yard, so I don't think water will be a problem. I'm building an outside run as well to give the birds more run space.

    The main problem I see is being able to clean out this lower area, as I'd have to crawl half the length of the coop to get to this nesting area, and make the door side on hinges to be able to rake it out. This doesn't sound like something I'd be successful in actually doing long term. Scrapping that plan, plan #2 is to make the hinged side below the "upper bunk's" door. The "top bunk" has a slide out tray, which would keep top bunk birds from pooping on bottom bunk birds. The hardware cloth is just stapled on to the panels so I could remove the one panel's wire and make a door to fit.

    I've added the stock photo from the seller. I'm considering the side to the right to be the roost area. It's about 39" tall at the front side, sloping down in the back. The lower bunk is about 18" tall. Looking at it from here, maybe I could expand the enclosed area to two panels wide to quadruple the space. They'd still have access to it being part of the run, just the "enclosed porch" area. This would get the birds a little higher off of the ground too.

    I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts on doing a bunk bed setup, will the birds accept roosting that close to the ground, the door issue and any other unseen problems with this plan. I'm not particularly handy so I often don't see potential problems until I get into the middle of things and realize that my plan doesn't work.

    Thanks
    [​IMG]
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,522
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    [​IMG]

    My first thought is, the lower bunk idea isn't going to work. The birds won't like it. Chickens' instinct is to roost as high as possible, and I can't see them roosting that low. Plus, they like to roost together. I think they'll all cram into one of the coops. Any bird that can't fit on the roost will simply hunker down on the floor of the coop and sleep there----that's what happened in my small elevated coop when a roost broke and I didn't get it replaced for a week or so.

    I don't know if you'd be able to get them to separate and roost two each to a coop. If you only have 3 birds, they'll probably all fit into one of those coops. There may be a bit of squabble at roost time while everyone gets situated, but I'm thinking they'll figure it out.

    Using one coop for roosting and one for laying might be a good idea, if the birds will cooperate.
     
  3. tmarsh83

    tmarsh83 Chillin' With My Peeps

    554
    212
    136
    Oct 16, 2015
    NEIN
    Birds naturally want to roost high. I think you're going to have issues getting them to accept it.

    They're going to overcrowd themselves and bicker to get higher roosting.
     
  4. Coykoi

    Coykoi Just Hatched

    48
    8
    19
    Sep 6, 2016
    OK, thanks. It sounds like the two coups should be roosts and I figure out something else for a nest box. Maybe they will all cram into one, but I'm thinking they'll probably not like so much togetherness and eventually decide to split up into 2 and 2.

    If the nest box was in the lower bunk position, would they use it? I'm thinking bring it up a little on risers, maybe 4", which would still give them head room but get it off of the ground a little, put a lip across the run side and the back side to contain nesting material, but so I'd be able to access to eggs from the door. The side walls could be full height to make it feel like a safe space, and then the back side of the run could be a hinged and locked door for access.

    Am I off base here or does that sound like a reasonable and doable plan?
     
  5. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

    786
    255
    126
    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    They're going to want to roost all together most likely, so plan on all 3 or 4 birds on one roost. You want 8 to 12" per bird if possible. The nest box being lower is supposedly fine (I'm still building mine and plan on putting it slightly above floor level).

    I have a small prefab coop as well. I've already had to alter it. I tore out my nest box to increase the roost bar length because I have 4 birds and the bar just wasn't long enough (they still crowd together on one half of it, but now it's easier for them to fly up to it). Realistically you need to look at how long a single roost bar is and imagine them all wanting to sleep on it.

    As far as cleaning it out, a rake or similar tool would be your best bet, as you probably can't comfortably get in there. My coop "unhinges" in the middle so I just pull it apart, rake, put it back together.

    Also are you planning to keep the birds in there full time or are you adding a larger run? Hard to tell what the overall square footage is of the "run" portion is if you're intending to use it as the only run.
     
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,522
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    My nest boxes are all at ground level. Elevated nest boxes are for human convenience. Chickens nest on the ground in the wild.

    You could easily rig an area under one of the coops for a nesting area. Problem would be getting access to it. You'd need a door you could open easily, and a way to reach the eggs cause of course they're going to lay way back in the farthest corner from wherever you put the door [​IMG].

    My nest boxes are just plastic totes, usually turned on their side. I like them cause they're portable, I can stick one back in a hard to reach corner and just drag it out to collect the eggs. They're also easy to clean if an egg gets broken, just hose them out.

    Chicken don't have the reasoning skills to follow this train of thought..."Gee, it's too crowded in there, I'm having a hard time getting on the roost, and Bessie is so hot she heats this whole place up every night. I"m going to go sleep in the other coop, it'll be cooler and I'll have more space to myself". They're very social, and I'm pretty sure they'll all want to sleep together. You can train them to sleep in different areas if you want, but I think you'll have to physically place the birds in their desired spots for a while until they get the hang of it. Once their sleeping spot is established in their little chicken brains, you should be good. They're creatures of powerful habit, and don't like change once they get a routine.
     
  7. Coykoi

    Coykoi Just Hatched

    48
    8
    19
    Sep 6, 2016
    Thanks, I think I can add an access door on the short end of the run below the coop in order to get to the nest box and make sure the nest box has a back door in order to reach right through for easy collection. I just don't see how 4 full sized birds would cram in one coop, so when they're old enough to go outside I'll work on teaching them which coop they've been assigned to and we'll see if that works.

    After I posted my last reply, I found a thread that was all about creative nest boxes, and as always I'm amazed at the information that you all have. I've got an old litter box sitting in the garage that should be perfect. I'm still going to screw it onto rails to stabilize it and get it above any rain run off (if we ever get rain again).

    My first attempt at building roost bars is not going to work (not surprised, given my poor carpentry skills), so I'm going to try again. It looks like a simple 2 X 4 spanning the width of the coop should work. Since the coop is only about 20" high, I think its got to be pretty low.

    The access door has a screened in window that I think is going to be too drafty in the winter so I'll partially cover it too.

    I had some screened panels from another project that I've turned into a secondary run, but it's only about 4 feet high and has no top. Originally it was to keep the dogs out as well as more run space for the chickens. I might get bird netting, or just a tarp to cover the open air access, or I might add extenders to make it 6 feet or so height. Hawks are a problem around here, from what I've heard. The secondary run makes the whole setup into a square, so the whole footprint will be about 6' x 9'. They have a little tree, which eventually will give them shade, so a tarp would help right now with shade and death from above. There's also an access door so I can get in and I could let them out in the yard when I'm home for even more free ranging.

    This kit has been more work than if I'd just gotten plans and built a coop from scratch, but at least it's making me think about what I'll want in a future coop.

    Thanks again for all of your knowledge and wisdom!
     
  8. chickensfinally

    chickensfinally Chillin' With My Peeps

    167
    15
    78
    May 12, 2014
    Des Moines, Iowa
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] I know you meant it seriously, but "death from above" just hit me funny.
     
  9. Coykoi

    Coykoi Just Hatched

    48
    8
    19
    Sep 6, 2016
    I definitely meant it with tongue firmly in cheek. I'd hate for anything to happen to my babies, but you gotta laugh a little too! [​IMG]
     
  10. chickensfinally

    chickensfinally Chillin' With My Peeps

    167
    15
    78
    May 12, 2014
    Des Moines, Iowa
    Oh ok cool. Yes we do not want anything to happen to our babies!!!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by