Building first coop, need advice

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by lilcheeks, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. lilcheeks

    lilcheeks Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 2, 2014
    Byron Center, MI
    My wife and I recently purchased a home with a barn. The barn is a 32' x 48' pole barn with concrete floors (see image below). The previous owners had 2 horse stalls in the barn that they took with them. So I have plenty of space but need advice on how large the coop needs to be. There is also a 1/2 acre fenced in pasture that the chickens could use during the warmer months, so I plan on making a doorway to the outside pasture.
    .[​IMG]

    We are planning on having 3-6 chickens (hens only), with no plans of getting more. My questions are:

    1) Does height matter? The area i would like to build the coop is in the corner and under a hay loft so the ceiling is roughly 8 feet. My plan was to run chicken wire from the floor to ceiling, with 2x4 wood braces somewhere in the middle. Is there anything wrong with that?

    2) How large does the coop need to be to accommodate 3-6 chickens? I think I found the answer to this one actually in the "How much room do chickens need" section.

    3) Are there any tips on building a chicken coop? Is it really just building a rectangle box? Or is there anything I need to plan for? I want to access the eggs from the aisle so I will plan for that, but anything often overlooked? I looked in the chicken coop section for photos but didn't see a way to see interior designs, I only saw stand alone coops. Feel free to post a link if I just missed something.

    4) I live in Michigan so its under 32 degree F for roughly 4 months. Do Chickens need a heater? The barn is not insulated, so maybe the coop needs to be? Since its a non-insulated pole barn, its not air tight so you do get cold air (and warm air) in.

    I'm sure I will have more questions but this is all for now :)

    Thanks!

    Nick
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  2. seann

    seann Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm newbie but I think I can answer correctly on how much space a chicken need.
    If in permanent confinement: 10 sqft per chicken.
    If with run: 4 sqft per chicken.
    Height inside coop: as high as they are so they don't have to duck.

    Other answers from my knowledge (very limited):
    -chicken can tolerate cold weather (unless it's super cold, I don't know what super cold is for chicken)
    -chicken cannot tolerate windy or drifty wind
    -ventilations are more important than insulations (have both if possible)

    Btw, wow that's a big barn.
     
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    1) Most breeds of chickens like to roost as high as possible. 8' is plenty. Make sure there is head room above the roost so they don't break their necks when they hop onto them. Nests should be slightly off the floor but roosts need to be significantly higher or the hens will roost in the nests and that's a no-no.
    2) 4 sq. ft. per bird in the coop with outside access. 10 sq. ft. per bird without.
    3) Maximum ventilation, dry and predator proof are the primary considerations. Predator proof does not mean chicken wire - that doesn't keep them safe.
    4) Breeds selected for climate won't need heat and providing heat would negate any advantage to having chickens.

    I recommend subdividing their pasture so some will have time to recover while they're excluded. They will rapidly eliminate any vegetation.
    I recommend, if you have the space, to get way more chickens than you think you want.
    You will use many more eggs than you currently do when you have delicious fresh eggs in your backyard.
    After the first 18 month flush of egg production, hens will shut down for an annual molt and winter lull.
    You can store eggs for 3 months to get you through those lulls.
    It is a shame to have to buy eggs after all that time, effort and expense.
    The US govt. used to recommend a minimum of 2 hens per family member.
    Chickens die and are eaten by predators.
    Lone chickens don't fare well.
    It is much more difficult to add birds to an existing flock.
     
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    good answers for a newbie- you've learned well.
    Yes that is a nice barn.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  5. lilcheeks

    lilcheeks Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 2, 2014
    Byron Center, MI
    If I subdivide, should each run be covered? I'm a littler nervous about hawks getting the chickens during the day (or other predator), would it be better to have them covered at all times? Or if they have access to go in and out, will that be enough to keep them "safe"?
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I've got an interior build....check out My Coop page under my user name.
     

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