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advice needed for new coop builders!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by hdipadova, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. hdipadova

    hdipadova In the Brooder

    Jan 5, 2009
    Mesa, AZ
    We are trying to make plans for building our coop. We are only going to have four girls going in for now and the most we plan is 8. I am trying to figure out what are some must do's and dont's for coops. I know they need nests, roost, and 3 sq ft per chicken. What else is essential? We are in Arizona so what things do I need to do for the heat factor. We were thinking a 4 ft by 6 ft that is 1 1/2 feet of the ground and a total of 6 ft tall. my husband plans on just doing wire flooring but it looks like everyone goes for wood with chips over. Which is better or correct? Please let me know all you have learned in your experiences with coop building.
  2. willowcol

    willowcol Songster

    Oct 10, 2008
    Macclesfield NC
    Wouldn't do wire floor to hard to clean. Thier little feet might not like it to well. Good ventilation is a must. I have wood floor with lanoleum easy to clean, just put wood chips on top and they sweep out easy. If I had it to do all over again I would say a bigger door for easier cleaning. I would also have made it 2 times bigger. My 6 Chickens have brainwashed me into hatching 30 more. Good luck!
  3. greathorse

    greathorse Songster

    Oct 1, 2008
    Northern Colorado
    you will hate the wire floor and so will the chickens. I tried it and covedred it with wood in less than two weeks. Poop didnt really fall t hrough and the birds were obviously not comforatable on it.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Unless you are legally limited to that few chickens, you might think about making the coop a bit larger. 3 sq ft per hen may not be a particular problem in your climate (assuming outdoor shade is available), but larger will leave room for more chickens in the future. Many people are surprised how their thoughts change once they *have* chickens... [​IMG]

    If you can locate it somewhere that gets natural shade, that is best; otherwise you will want to provide as much shade as possible for the run, especially on top and on the W side. (Just the area under a 4x6 coop is not enough shade.) Wide roof overhangs are as good for coops as for houses. And LOTS AND LOTS of ventilation, to the point where you might want to make 2 or 3 walls totally open up to just wire mesh (tho you'd want panels to close them down in bad weather, too).

    Predatorproofing is a big thing. It is amazing what predators come out of the woodwork, that you've never seen before. And many are quite strong and quite good climbers/diggers.

    Some people do use wire flooring and are happy enough with it; others (to me it seems like more than half the people on this board who try it) don't like how it works for them. I don't know any way to tell which camp you'd end up in [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun, welcome to byc,

  5. lauralou

    lauralou Songster

    Dec 10, 2007
    Central Virginia
    I have several hutch type coops, and if I'm not misreading your post, that is what you are planning. It seems to me that 1 1/2 feet off the ground is a bit short. I planned mine so that it is at the appropriate height for me to lean into to clean it. If it weren't raining right now, I'd go out and measure, but then again, that might not be helpful, since I'm kinda short. [​IMG]

    Also, it seems that 4 feet wide is a bit of a stretch for cleaning. Again, your arms may be longer than mine!

    The dimensions of my coops are 3' X 7'. That way they fit perfectly under a 4 X 8 sheet of plywood for the roof. The 21 square feet provided comfortably houses 7 chickens. Here is a picture. The pop door is in the middle, and on either side are big doors that open so I can lean in and clean the whole thing easily.


    The coop itself is about 4 feet tall on the front, and 3 1/2 feet tall on the back. It has a double decker nestbox in one corner, and a roost that stretches from the nestbox to the other side of the coop. The roost isn't very high off the floor, maybe a foot, maybe less. And about a foot off the back wall.

    I have a window on the east side which is covered in hardware cloth in the summer, and by a wood panel over that in the winter. I don't have one on the west side, because we get rain from that direction quite often. It is hot here in the summers, but probably not as hot as your summers. You might need more ventillation than I do. I always keep one coop door open in the summer during the day also. It would probably help you to situate the coop so that the front is facing north, or east. And of course, to take advantage of any shade that you might have when you decide where to put the coop. Our run has no shade at all. [​IMG]

    The floor is wood covered in wood shavings.

    Well, I hope that was helpful to you. I really like the design, and have built 2 just like that. The first coop we built wasn't designed nearly as well, so I tried to learn from my mistakes as I expanded. My biggest mistakes were that I couldn't easily reach the back corners on the first coop, and that I put the nestboxes on the outside, where heavy rains could get in from time to time. Wet bedding, Yuck! I've had to do a lot of reconfiguring on that first coop to make it practical. But you live and learn!
  6. namreknat

    namreknat In the Brooder

    Sep 21, 2008
    N.W. Oklahoma
    I use the deep litter method with pine shavings over a wood floor. It has been working good for me so far. The coops stay dry with very little odor. I stir the shavings about once a week and add some if needed. I will clean out the coops in the spring and start over again. I compost the shavings and droppings. [​IMG]
  7. muddler6

    muddler6 Songster

    Sep 12, 2007
    Jefferson County, PA
    I did one like lauralou (you can see it on the blue link at the bottom of this post), I built it with a large access door on the back of it so I could reach in and get to all the corners, it is about 4x6 and I was able to sit inside to do the wiring. That is my suggestion, is to add lights that you can either put on a timer or turn on and off as you need them. Depending on how much light you get in the winter, they will need additional light to keep laying eggs during the short winter days. Now I also admit that I would have built mine a little larger, but this will be my bantam coop once I build a larger coop this spring or summer. You will need a lot of ventilation that you can adjust depending on temp. (as everyone else has said, I just wanted to agree). Good luck.
  8. CTChickenMom

    CTChickenMom Songster

    Jan 5, 2009
    SE Connecticut
    Another biggie for coop building are the drafts...there shouldn't be any or chickies could get really sick. I would suggest putting a people-sized door or a door big enough so that you could get in to clean and gather eggs. Venting will be very important, especially in the AZ heat of summer. You could leave about 2 inches of hardware cloth at the edge of one part of the floor (and make the rest wood) and have a ridge vent at the top. You'd create a air current to take hot air out the top. You'd have to cover it up if it got cold though. Do a search of the forum, you'll find lots of info!
  9. jforsness

    jforsness Songster

    Dec 28, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    Go big
  10. merry hens

    merry hens In the Brooder

    Jan 18, 2009

    It gets hot here too and one thing I wish I would have done with my coop years ago when I built it is planted more bushes and shade trees to shade the coop. They have a few small ones now, but it will be a few more years before they are big enough to really help cool things down. Extra windows/vents help too.

    The roofing on my coop is corrugated aluminum, which heats up like nothing else in the summer. We also have two strips of clear plastic roofing, which lets more sunlight in. This is great in the winter, but not good in the summer because of the heat. It melts, cracks, and turns black and needs to be replaced every few years.

    My coop has a dirt floor with a thick layer of shavings over it. If I could redo it, I would put in a concrete or wood floor. Predators digging in has been a constant problem, and although the dirt is packed, it still dirties the shavings more. Its quite terrible.

    Also, the more space the better. The more space your chickens have, the less problems you will have to deal with. We built a humungous chicken coop, and they love the extra space. Of course, it used more materials and money, but it was well worth it.

    Hope you have fun building your chicken coop.


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