Building a coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Jennifer74, Jul 17, 2016.

  1. Jennifer74

    Jennifer74 Just Hatched

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    I didnt realize building a coop could be so complicated :) I guess I have to take in to account direction for everything. The south side of the coop would face my house. So Im wondering where the best placement of my door, chicken doors, windows that open and close and vents would be and how many/ how big should the vents be and also what is the best way to insulate - I really would like to have 2 silkies in my group
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2016
  2. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Brain surgery is only complicated if you want to do it right. Coops are harder. (kidding)

    Most folks who get started with birds are not aware of all the factors related to poultry husbandry, so they are never considered and likely as not, the birds suffer because of it. That you are even aware of it already puts you miles ahead of most.

    Facing south and being up high on a south facing slope on well drained soils are the goals whenever possible, al least if you are located far enough north such that winter temps are a factor.

    Facing south lets in winter sun and light and helps block cold winter winds from the north and west. Coops located on a north facing slope don't get as much sun (some may not get any) and are exposed to brutal north winter winds and thus become cold, miserable places for birds in winter. Putting windows on the south is what allows winter sun to permeate into the coop. Winter sunlight means winter eggs and is warmer. Up high on well drained soils means the coop and surrounding area will also be dry. Putting birds in a wet mud hole almost guarantees they will do poorly and suffer doing it.

    In almost no circumstance do you need insulation. This runs counter to what most assume. What you do want is ventilation and lots of it..........if the size and design allow it, some will even knock out the entire south wall. Dry birds are warm birds, and well ventilated is dry. The moisture is created by the birds themselves and needs to have a place to go other than by condensing inside the coop. Birds have feathers and can manage really well in freezing temps, provided the dry, well ventilated coop does not have drafts of such extent that those feathers are ruffled at night while on the roost. So most ventilation needs to be away from the roosts to avoid drafts and lots of air movement under and through the roosts. The farther north you are, the trickier ventilation becomes, but you still want it and lots of it.

    Put your door on either the south or east sides. Again, winter winds. Part of that is also dictated by the coop design which when winter winds and winter sun are considered, likely has the low walls on the north and highest walls on the south. Due to coop size, the high south wall may be the only one tall enough to fit a door. Near the south wall on the east side is a popular place.

    Lastly, for protection from predators, which are everywhere, make your coop tight. Fort Knox tight. Durable materials and no residual openings any larger than 1 square inch. Maybe even smaller if rats and weasels are issues in your area. If you don't account for predators, which are determined to wipe you out, all else is moot. Unless your coop is predator proof it will be empty so whatever you built won't matter. Later on, if you want to yard or free range your birds, you can work on a secure perimeter, but above all else, the coop they spend their nights in must be Fort Knox tight or nothing else matters.
     
  3. Jennifer74

    Jennifer74 Just Hatched

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    That is so helpful now my next question is - I want no more than 10 chicken - besides the coop they will have a large 20 x 20 fenced area to run in while Im at work and then out when Im home how big does my coop need to be - I was thinking 6 x 8 - I see so many tiny coops for sale on line and through fleet farm saying I can fit 6 - 10 chickens and it doesnt seem like they would have room to move
     
  4. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You are correct about most of the small, commercial built coops. Some are built very well, by well intentioned people, but often as not, by people who either don't know anything about the birds these buildings are intended to house, or don't care. They will all have the "essentials"......a pop door with ramp (in most cases, no ramp is needed at all), roost bars and an abundance of nest boxes on the order of 2X to 3X more than are actually needed. (for 10 birds you would only need about 2 nest boxes....not 1 per bird as many coops offer). They won't have enough ventilation, if any. Almost ALL of them grossly overstate their capacity.

    Then there are the poorly designed, poorly built, miserable little death traps. No chicken deserves that.

    On your space requirements, standard rule of thumb is 4 SF per bird for the coop or house, which should be considered the minimum, and if there is an outside run, about 10 SF per bird. So at 6' x 8', and a large run, you would be setup for as many as 12 birds. Actually less, as the 4 SF per bird is the actual INSIDE net effective area. Most folks get that wrong and use the exterior measurements which is the gross area.

    If you don't have a set design, and if you have a way to build one, one of the very best designs available is that of the Woods Colony House. There are several references to them on BYC, including at least one that is 6' x 10'.
     
  5. Jennifer74

    Jennifer74 Just Hatched

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    for the fencing would regular chicken wire be strong enough and small enough to keep out predators like raccoons? I will use a thicker tighter mesh on the ground so nothing can dig under. Id like to use that all around but its spendy and I want a huge space for them - but if chicken wire isnt safe then I'd rather do it right the first time
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2016
  6. jim c

    jim c Out Of The Brooder

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    chicken wire will keep raccoons out as good as a sieve holds water. Chicken wire has one job and that is to keep chicken in or out of something. please use something stronger to keep predators out. wire mesh, welded wire fencing, chain link. the stronger it is the longer it will last. I prefer to use chain link it can keep a bear out, the plus side is you can use welded wire to cover the top to make it really predator proof.
     
  7. Jennifer74

    Jennifer74 Just Hatched

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    I figured - I will for sure use a strong wire mesh - I think this coop and fenced area is going to cost more than my house hahahaha
     
  8. Jennifer74

    Jennifer74 Just Hatched

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    May be a dumb question but are they at risk for predators during the day? Im thinking of building a small fence area 20 x 20 with the strong wire mesh for sides and top for them to roam in for when Im gone camping or something. Then could use chicken wire for a large area and cover it with netting on top?
     
  9. jim c

    jim c Out Of The Brooder

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    predators may surprise you by the way they look. I once had a large feral cat that got a couple of my pullets before I found a way to trap it and relocate it. always assume that you will have or get predators in your area once you have chickens. build for protection and you may not suffer a loss.
     
  10. Jennifer74

    Jennifer74 Just Hatched

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    I know there are fox, coyotes, eagles, hawks and feral cats around. I have an 8lb terrier mix that I have to watch constantly even though I have invisible fence
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2016

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