Buy? Or Build? Heeeeellllllppppp!!

Birdsong 82

Crowing
Aug 17, 2017
3,583
6,195
432
Virginia
depends on how close to the coast and storms affecting your location. Sturdy can be true for certain locations but not for other so that's something to think about whether building or purchasing
 

readymom

Chirping
May 18, 2014
18
9
79
I bought my daughter the OverEZ chicken coop. It is well built and easy to assemble with 2 people. She has 5 chiickens in the medium. Plenty of space. I thick it was $800. Some will say that is way too expensive. But well built and easy are worth the money to me. We bought a 20x10 dog kennel and put it inside. set the coop up on blocks to give more run space. Put chicken wire around the bottom with apron and over top. Easy peasy. Our only predators are hawks, dogs, rare racoon. No problems in 2 years.
 

Acre4Me

Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2017
5,175
13,436
737
Western Ohio
You are in Florida, so you can go with an open air style coop. Mainly you are going to need to keep the birds out of the rain and wind, and safe from predators.

All of FL is warm to hot year-round. Even though some areas might dip into 20s on occasion, the birds will not mind that, they wear down coats.

An open air coop is one with 1 or 2 sides covered in HWC or welded fencing. It could also be a roofed structure with walls on the upper half, open underneath (covered in HWC). With this in mind, a carport type set up could work - open on all sides, you only need to cover 2-3 sides or all 4 partially. Or something similar to this. Securing any structure is also important.

The issue with prefab are 2-fold: Price tends to be high, and durability. You can find a pre-fab at a good price and then put it under a roof of some kind to prolong its life.

Recently we had a 4-H meeting at someone's farm. An actual farm, with an actual big wood timber-frame barn with some pigs inside and big storage area for some equipment. They had chickens...only about 6...in a prefab...in the barn...near the people door. Genius! They only wanted chickens for eggs, pre-fab was on the concrete floor (with shavings), and completely protected from the elements, yet chickens got fresh air and sun during the day from the door way. Maybe you have a garage or carport that can house and protect the coop, even if they have access to outdoor run from this.

We built our coop - an elevated walk-in style, but without building skills, you are best to go with a pre-fab if it can be found for good price, and can be protected in some manner from the elements. Or go with a carport-like item or other simple building that comes in a kit with instructions, like a shed. In FL you will have to be aware that you only need to protect from direct winds and rain.

Good Luck.
 

One Lucky Momma

Chicken Kisser
Premium Feather Member
Apr 25, 2020
442
1,330
196
Madison Co, NC
YOU are in an exciting position, faced with endless possibilities! Looks like you’re getting tons of good housing advice.

To further inspire your dreams, request paper catalogues from some of the mail order hatcheries. You’re probably too young to remember getting the Sears Christmas catalogue, but if you can imagine magic inside a paper cover, that’s what you’ll have. Even if you don’t buy from the hatcheries, their print catalogues show excellent photographs and breed descriptions, and will be a great jumping off point. You won’t mail order birds unless you find someone you can combine with, as, I believe, the smallest order possible is 6 birds. If you search far down on the list of forums here you’ll find birds for sale. And you’ll be amazed how many and how close some other BYC members are to you.

Two of my personal favorite breeds who happen to be talkative and personable, but in a very calm fashion, are Speckled Sussex and Crevecoeurs. Check‘m out!

And good luck in your Chicken Adventure!
 

City Farmer Jim

Songster
Mar 18, 2020
439
837
166
South Texas close to Corpus Christi
After looking at plans of several different kinds I have a question that I thought I knew the answer to....is square feet of floor space the only or biggest criteria or does cubic feet enter into the picture at some point? I've recently looked at plans for a 4x6 square foot floor that say good for 12 chickens...Bantam or standard isn't mentioned the plan is for a nearly 7 foot in the center height ....does that chicken math work out ?
 
Jul 9, 2020
169
503
116
Guthrie, ok
My Coop
I live in a neighborhood, so small is the key for right now...maybe 3 chickens. I live in Central Florida so it’s hot. I think winters are freezing, but I get cold with anything below 80! My plan is to purchase a small coop and run and a sail shade for them not to get too hot. I don’t think we have predators around here, we have a vinyl fence all around the yard so I think they will be safe.
I started with 3 chickens in a pre-built coop that claimed to house 6. They did just fine but no way I would have put 6 in there. We also expanded the run quite a bit and put pvc pipe on the bottom so we could drag it to a new spot whenever the grass got completely trampled. They were free range in the back yard when we were not at work.
 

claudiabostic

In the Brooder
Jul 14, 2020
42
66
48
East Tennessee USA
I got into chickens about 3 years ago and I now have 35 of various breeds in several coops. 3 of the coops I use are prefabs bought from TSC and Amazon. They are flimsy and I've had to paint them and put new roofs on, but they work well for 3 or 4 chickens. Note that they were advertised for 6 to 8 chickens so buy much bigger than you think you need. They have lasted well for 2 years and will probably be fine for another few years. I built a level foundation for each of these coops from 2x4s and that lifts the coops up and keeps them from rotting as quickly. I got these because it takes time to build a coop yourself and my flock was expanding more quickly than I could build.

I can pretty much guarantee that you will find things "wrong" with your first coop, no matter how much research you do. There are some things that just won't become knowable until you get some experience and find out how you like to do things and how things work in your climate. I'm in the process of designing my 3rd coop now and I'm sure I will find ways to improve it once I start using it. Some of the things that I've found out that the chickens love: a covered but open spot with a roosting bar that's safe so they can sleep "outside" when the weather is warm. A dry place for feed and water that's right by where they spend time in the daytime. Almost all of my coops have an enclosed run under the coop that is secure so I leave the coop door open and they can stay in the coop or be in the enclosed run at all times and still be safe from predators.

Shade and ventilation are going to be extremely important in Florida - don't worry about the cold (I've had chickens shrug off the snow that fell on them with no complaints) but the heat there can kill chickens. Make sure they have a shady spot where they can cuddle down into some moist soil or sand. You may also need to add some sort of misting system or at least wet the area down in the morning. Don't feed them any corn in hot weather since it tends to raise body temps. Give them some treats of fruit or veggies frozen in ice. This way they have a continuing source of small amounts of something cold to eat & drink over time. They may also need supplemental electrolytes in hot weather. I would recommend breeds that have large combs, the combs act as heat radiators to help them cool down.

Predator protection is also a key. Everything loves a chicken dinner. So you have to have a plan that will protect your chickens from every possible predator both large and small, on the ground and in the air. Half inch mesh hardware cloth is your friend. About the only thing that can get through it is a large dog (or a larger predator like a bear. I think we can discount bears where you live.), and the mesh is small enough to keep out rats, lizards and snakes. Any hole in the fabric of the coop that's larger than half an inch should be covered with some hardware cloth. For dogs a 6 foot tall fence will work most of the time but there should also be something to prevent digging under the fence. If you can't bury wire deeply for some reason, laying wire fencing on the ground for 3 feet on the outside or inside of the fence will probably work too. One thing to beware of is that raccoons will reach through a fence if they can and grab whatever part of a chicken they can grab, pull it up to them and start taking bites. If you can't make the holes in the fence too small then keep the chickens away from this fence. You can use layers of protection, so one fence doesn't have to keep everything away. For aerial predators like hawks you can cover an area with wire fencing or hardware cloth or a solid roof. I use a flexible hawk netting I bought on Amazon, it comes as large as 50 feet by 50 feet and it works very well. It has stood up to sun, snow and ice for 3 years now with no sign of disintegrating. And I've seen a hawk bounce off of it so I know it works. Using this I can let my chickens out to run in the garden without worrying about hawk attacks.
 

mcchapin

Chirping
Apr 3, 2013
3
0
59
As I am sure you are aware, I am such a newby to the chicken arena that I haven’t even gotten my first chicken yet! I have been studying coops. Now, since I am just beginning, isn’t it okay if I purchase a cute little coop, or do you really have to build one?? Honestly, I would much rather buy one! A builder I ain’t!! And, I would like to the the beginning of this new adventure as simple as possible for me! Now, since I have all that outta the way, which brand is best?
I hope I am not becoming a bother! I want to be successful when I do actually get a chicken! And thank you for all of your help!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
86,098
101,981
1,727
SW Michigan
My Coop
is square feet of floor space the only or biggest criteria or does cubic feet enter into the picture at some point?
Floor space is the main criteria, but height of coop is important for ventilation.
...and tho poop boards don't count as floor space, they surely do help during the long blizzardy days we get here.
 

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