Building my First Coop and Panicking

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by chicky_mommy, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. chicky_mommy

    chicky_mommy Chirping

    Sep 10, 2010
    Northeast Corner of CT
    I have owned chickens on and off for almost 13 years now, but until now have never built my own dad has always built what we referred to as a "ramshackle coop" out of what ever was laying around the yard, or we have once in a while used an empty rabbit hutch for a pair of them.

    I am now being faced with the semi-daunting task of building my own coop and I am wondering...
    1~What kind of materials would best suit?
    2~What is the best way to raise the coop off the ground? I've been told bricks, cinder blocks and 4x4s...I just don't see how the coop
    wouldn't slid off of bricks/cinder blocks, and the whole point of raising it off the ground is to prevent rot getting into the wood so I don't
    quite see how 4x4s would help...
    3~How many Square feet of coop do I need? (This will NEVER house more than 5 birds but birds may be standard/bantam/mixed)
    4~How many Square feet of "yard" do they need?
    5~Is it better to build the "yard" walls out of stretched wire or framed panels?
    6~How big does my pop-door need to be? (and for that mater why is it called a pop-door?)
    7~Do I need to build separate nests for each bird or will they share?
    8~How big should a nest box be?
    9~In areas where the winter(and spring/fall nights) temps can reach Zero Degrees (or lower) is a round or flat roost better?

    I'm sure i will come up with more questions as i work my way in and out of panic spells between now and the time the thing is finished and the birds are moved in.

  2. awesomefowl

    awesomefowl Argues with Goats

    Read the chapter on coops in Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens over and over and over....
  3. chicky_mommy

    chicky_mommy Chirping

    Sep 10, 2010
    Northeast Corner of CT
    Quote:The book "Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens " recomended by 'awesomefowl' is...shall we say less than helpful in answering most of my questions.
    This book did answer questions 3, 4, and 6. This leaves questions 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, and 9 unanswered...anyone?? advice please??
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2010
  4. mcostas

    mcostas Chirping

    Aug 2, 2010
    A chain link dog kennel makes a good run. It's easier to make a hole for a coop in it than you think it would be. It's pretty easy to secure too, I am putting a hardware cloth apron on the bottom and wire on top. I have the tarp cover as well, to help it stay dry.

    I am using my tractor coop temporarily, I'm interested in ideas as well. I have the coop books for the stupid on the way.
  5. Crabella

    Crabella Songster

    Mar 22, 2010
    Inland Pacific NW
    Quote:Take a deep breath, there are a ton of helpful people on this website. [​IMG]
  6. 33yardbirds

    33yardbirds Songster

    Jun 15, 2010
    Southern New Jersey
    You can go to Lowes, Home Depot, or your local library or even the internet for basic framing or building sheds. It is like a big puzzle but heavier. There are many ways to do your foundation. I just used PT 4x4s, PT floor joist, then the rest of the framing and sheathing was Hem fir. Laid on the ground. Some digging in the ground to make sure the foundation was level. FUN and EASY
  7. dsqard

    dsqard Crazy "L" Farms

    Jun 11, 2010
    York PA
    GET THE BUILDING CHICKEN COOPS FOR DUMMIES!!!!!!!! This book will answer all of those questions! [​IMG] I am building the big walk in coop all by myself (well DH comes out to stand on the boards if I need them to stop sliding on the floor when I am screwing them together [​IMG] ) I have never built anything this big before and I have been using that book to do it. They have different coop plans, explain basic carpentry, explain about leveling the coop and different ways you can raise it off the ground. You can absolutely do this!!! I have been posting my progress on the BYC website and I have gotten so much encouragement from everyone!!!! You go for it! [​IMG]

  8. Judy

    Judy Crowing Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Well, even for 5 birds I'd build and 8x'x8' shed type building. Its big enough to store the feed, etc., and to knock together a separate space if you get a broody with new chicks, a sick hen, etc. Lets you walk around in it, which is very convenient, especially in bad weather. And the cost is not a lot more than a tiny coop, as materials come in 4' and 8' sizes. In that climate, there will be days they go out little if at all, so to prevent their feeling crowded, a much larger indoor area is a good idea. I believe our resident "coop guru," patandchickens, has 10 sq ft per bird in the coop -- she lives in Canada. Do read some of her stuff: One of her pages is about cold weather coops, and the ventilation page is great -- you need to plan for good ventilation even in that climate, really.

    For the run, check out what is available locally, and if you want it predatorproof, be sure it is very strong. I ended up buying some stuff that is woven like chicken wire but is some kind of galvanized very tough wire, because it was on sale.

    It really does not matter how big the pop door is, as long as it is tall and wide enough for them to walk through without brushing. Whatever fits in what you have already framed. I think mine is about 12"x20"; they go through two or three at a time.

    I agree, certainly no more than two nest boxes. You could also just set a kitty litter pan or similar container on the floor and put hay and a golf ball or something else round in it; you will probably find two ore more nesting together, anyway. I do both. Be sure the roosts are higher. You might at some point want to close the nests off at night, to keep the nests non-poopy.

    Definitely flat roosts as above. If you will have some really large fowl like orps, even that may be too small. I have 6 that are of this size and one sleeps on a shelf. It's so their body warmth can be touching their toes; they like to sit on their feet, which prevents frostbitten toes, and their toes don't curl around a round roost, anyway.

    You will probably want power available, if you haven't already thought about it. It's not difficult for an amateur to install, if this is new to you; the home depot clerk will point you to the supplies needed. I also have water, but my coop is about 30' from the well, and little is involved in preventing their freezing in this climate. I realize this is just a bit different in yours! That's one use of power; you could plug in a heated dog waterer, if nothing else, or make a small heater to put under the water. (Space heaters tend to lead to disaster; don't think about that.)

    Also, if you want a poop board, it is easier to plan this at this stage rather than later.

    You will probably come out best if you invest in plywood for the walls, unless you can find a cheaper weatherproof material. It doesn't have to be really thick, at all. Insulation is not a necessity, esp. with a material like plywood. For the roof, again, see what's available.

    I have learned that the "dummies" book has at least one problem: it recommends too little space, even in a warm climate. It is said to be very helpful otherwise, though.

    On last thing: it is much easier to prevent critters from digging in by laying something on the ground maybe 2' out, like hardware cloth or rocks, and securing it to the ground and coop, than it is to dig down.

    By all means use pressure treated wood anywhere it touches the ground; it won't hurt the birds.
    Good luck!
  9. chicky_mommy

    chicky_mommy Chirping

    Sep 10, 2010
    Northeast Corner of CT
    Quote:Thank you everyone for the advice. Most of my questions have now been answered.
    1~I'll use ply wood and 2x4s.
    2~I'll use a combination of 4x4s and cinderblocks...i'll put the 4x4s in the cinderblock holes...
    3~i'll build my coop 4x4=16sqFeet with external nest boxes but put in a floor half way up so i have storage underneath plenty big for a pair of hens...and as for those of you who recomended bigger incase of flock expansion i live in an area where i am not legally allowed to have more than 2 hens and 0 roosters.
    4~i'm building a 5x5x4 yard so 25sqFeet of ground space and 4feet high, but i'm going to section off part at a time so that they can always have good ground, idea from coop pages.
    5~i am building my yard walls (after some consideration of price etc) out of 2x2.5foot 2x4 frames with wire over them on both sides and the top will be part pannels like the walls and part plywood coverd in shingles (so that they have yard space that is sheltered from rain)
    6~is a 1sqFoot door big enough for a pop door?
    7&8~i am going to build 2 nest boxes at 1cubic foot each which will be in adition to the floor space already stated
    9~i am going to put a 2x4 with the corners rounded off (so they arent sharp) as a 18inches off the ground enough?
  10. ScotH

    ScotH In the Brooder

    Jul 20, 2010
    South East Texas
    Most of what I've read and seen shows a 12"x12" pop door is fine unless you'll have big birds like Jersey Giants .. (I'm making my pop door a little taller just for extra headroom.)

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