Building first chicken coop - have lots of questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by seann, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. seann

    seann Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 30, 2013
    I'm building my first chicken coop in the backyard and I need some advice. Its size is 48" by 55". Upper area will be the sleeping part with roosting (height 24" + roof). Ladder at the back goes down to dirt + sand (height also 24"). I live in La Mesa (San Diego) California so weather is very nice (min avg 45, max avg 82 according to The coop will be located next to wooden fence (about 6-7 ft high), 1 tree on left and 1 tree on right and next to the right tree is a storage building.

    1. How many chickens? Upper area is 17 sqft. Lower area is another 17 sqft. I would think four to eight but four may be more comfortable for everybody. What do you think?

    2. Where should I put the waterer/feeder? I will lift the waterer off ground - if I put on lower area, it will create more room in the upper area but that means they can't drink for almost 12 hours (6pm dark to 6am morning). If I put on upper area, it will mean less space but I guess it will have to do, right?

    3. Predator protection. I don't expect bears or wolves but I may expect mice/rats, skunks, cats (2 neighbors have a cat each), dogs (neighbor has 2 small dogs), hawks/etc, racoons maybe? opossum? My neighbor once told us she saw a coyote nearby at 5am walking on street. How about snakes? I hope not.
    So I read about installing hardware cloth on the bottom, bend it and lay it on the ground to prevent diggers going in. Will this work?
    Do I also need to install poultry fence under the bedding and also on the roof just in case?
    Do I install plywood cover over the poultry fence on the upper area, for more safety at night (but less ventilation)?

    4. Wood sealing against water and another against bugs/termite/mold. Do I need these? they cost plenty ($15 + $25 for a gallon).

    5. Do I need to provide light/lamp in the upper area of coop? Baby chicks will be in the house (garage) with heating lamp but once they get older they will be put in the coop (backyard). I heard that by providing light they may lay more eggs but if the energy or light is cut they might be shocked. What do you think?
    When can I transfer chickens to backyard coop? (at what age)

    So many questions, I apologize.
    Take your time if you can :). Thank you for any answers.
  2. Catfish267

    Catfish267 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 26, 2012
    I Don't Remember
    start with 6-7 chickens. If they want food or water then they can just jump down from the top right?3. try using this, or you can just use chicken wire. Just clip your chickens wings and then you don't need fence on the roof. Just close up the chicken door at night and then you don't need fence on the bottom. No wood sealant needed. My chickens only get sunlight. I don't know what the temperature is where you live.
  3. chfite

    chfite Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 7, 2011
    Taylors, SC
    Usually allow 4 square feet per chicken in the coop. The food and water don't need to be available after dark. Chickens are not active after dark. I keep the food inside the coop to protect if from the weather. The water stays outside so that any spills are not a problem.

    Making an apron around the run extending about 24 inches out lying on the ground will keep diggers out. Any part of the coop or run that you want to be safe from predators will need sturdy wire such as 1/2" hardware cloth. Poultry netting or chicken wire is not of much use other than to keep the chickens in or out. Most any animal can easily tear through chicken wire.

    Chickens need adequate ventilation.

    You can paint the wood that you decide needs painting. I painted in order to protect the wood from the weather and to make it easier to clean. I don't provide lighting for my chickens. I understand that you would add light in the morning so that they have a total of 14 hours of light per day to keep production normal.

    Little ones can usually go out when they are fully feathered, around 12 weeks.

    Chickens will be on the roost before dark, so they don't need light to get around.

  4. seann

    seann Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 30, 2013
    Thanks for replies.

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