ccop house within a turtle pen?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by coloradonewbie, Apr 19, 2011.

  1. coloradonewbie

    coloradonewbie Out Of The Brooder

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    [​IMG] Hi, BYCers,

    We have a well-built turtle pen (made with hardware cloth inbetween 1X4's that are screwed to each other), and I've already gotten advice on the apron around it (inbetween the pen and the chainlink fence), but we're starting to build the chicken house inside the pen (on legs) and I have a couple of specific questions:

    1) I'm in Boulder, CO, and we haven't gotten much snow/rain down here for a couple of years.
    A) Do we dare just use the Virginia Creeper vines that are all over the pen roof as shade for the summer, or do we need to pull those off because they're poisonous to chickens? There's Virginia Creeper all along the back fence, too; will the chickens eat it and get sick? It's from our neighbor's yard, and is our 'privacy' fence, so there's no way it's coming down .

    B) If we have a roof on the pen itself, and build up the henhouse to within an inch of the pen roof, do we need to put a roof on the hen house itself as well? Or will that just provide some of the much needed ventilation? The turtle pen is only tall enough for a child to stand up in (49 inches to the bottom of the 2x4 rafters), and we have 10 legs that are 15" long for both the nesting boxes and the hen house itself (so the chickens will be able to go underneath their house) but I figured that they might be spending parts of the winter inside the house itself -- would that give enough ventilation, too much, not enough? One of our sides (free) has a small rectangle hole (1"X3" maybe?) in it already, and I thought I might cut a similar one in the other side . . .

    2) We'd planned on having our nesting box cabinet right inside the door -- which is on the south side of the pen -- do hens like to be toasty warm in their nesting boxes, or are we asking for trouble here, with them being too hot to lay eggs? We wanted it to be easy for us to gather eggs, but maybe we should put the nesting box underneath the hen house so it would stay cooler in the summer.

    3) If we had a 'summer' plan for the nesting boxes (it's going to be a cabinet with the doors cut out), will they freak out if we move it inside the hen house for the winter? Assuming that they're going to lay some in the winter, anyway (which might not be the case . . ..)

    THANKS FOR ANY INFORMATION -- this site is invaluable!

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    carroll
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    A) Do we dare just use the Virginia Creeper vines that are all over the pen roof as shade for the summer, or do we need to pull those off because they're poisonous to chickens? There's Virginia Creeper all along the back fence, too; will the chickens eat it and get sick?

    It's up to you. Chickens do not *generally* eat toxic plants in quantities to cause problems. However you never know what some misguided 'gourmet' may decide to do. I think the fairest thing is probably to say: they will be safEST if you remove the vines but the risks of leaving them in place are not high.

    B) If we have a roof on the pen itself, and build up the henhouse to within an inch of the pen roof, do we need to put a roof on the hen house itself as well? Or will that just provide some of the much needed ventilation?

    If it's only like an inch gap, and blocked securely with wire mesh, then sure, that sounds fine, no second roof needed. Although I do not *totally* stand behind opinions based on my imagination of what you mean as opposed to photos or whatever LOL

    The turtle pen is only tall enough for a child to stand up in (49 inches to the bottom of the 2x4 rafters), and we have 10 legs that are 15" long for both the nesting boxes and the hen house itself (so the chickens will be able to go underneath their house) but I figured that they might be spending parts of the winter inside the house itself -- would that give enough ventilation, too much, not enough? One of our sides (free) has a small rectangle hole (1"X3" maybe?) in it already, and I thought I might cut a similar one in the other side . . .

    Don't fool around with 1x3 holes, they don't really do anything. I am having trouble clearly grasping the dimensions of the henhouse and the exact dimensions of the existing ventilation and I forget how many chickens this will hold. So while I strongly SUSPECT you will want a lot more ventilation (for summer heat, if nothing else) I could be wrong, like if you have a large openable window I've overlooked. If you do add ventilation, don't do itsy tiny things, no hole-saw holes or little heating-register covers, do something useful-sized i.e. bigger than you think necessary. you won't regret it [​IMG]

    2) We'd planned on having our nesting box cabinet right inside the door -- which is on the south side of the pen -- do hens like to be toasty warm in their nesting boxes, or are we asking for trouble here, with them being too hot to lay eggs? We wanted it to be easy for us to gather eggs, but maybe we should put the nesting box underneath the hen house so it would stay cooler in the summer.

    As for any other critters, toasty is good in winter but not in summer. CHickens particularly do not tolerate real *heat* very well (like 90 F and above). You want your henhouse well enough ventilated that it will not get any hotter than outdoor-temperature-in-the-shade; and you would not want your nestboxes getting hot. Either ventilate them, if they must be south-facing external boxes and you have hot summer weather, or relocate them.

    3) If we had a 'summer' plan for the nesting boxes (it's going to be a cabinet with the doors cut out), will they freak out if we move it inside the hen house for the winter? Assuming that they're going to lay some in the winter, anyway (which might not be the case . . ..)

    Remember you only need like one nestbox per 3-5 chickens.

    I dunno, my chickens cope ok with changes of nestbox but it is kind of a management headache b/c you often have to retrain them (otherweise they want to lay floor eggs where the old box used to be, or at other random places). If you can avoid it that'd be better; but if you have to, it is certainly doable IME.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  3. coloradonewbie

    coloradonewbie Out Of The Brooder

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    THANKS, PAT!javascript:insert_text('[​IMG]',%20'');

    We have 4 chickens now, but want to add 2 more next summer (the legal limit), so we're planning a 6 foot long house (approximately -- the inside will actually be a bit shorter than that because I cut the 2x4's six feet long -- and I'm planning on using rigid styrofoam from the Resource yard as insulation . . . . The sides are 33" long, and 33" tall; we have 15" legs for the box to go on.

    We can't do anything about the creeper on the back fence, but we can certainly remove it and put a roof of some kind over the coop. We're trying to use free and/or recycled material for the most part because we're environmentally conscious, but it's taking a lot of my time to find stuff, of course, instead of just going and getting it from Home Depot -- the joys of recycling . . . . But hey, it's worth it.

    I bought a $5 cabinet for the nesting box; I thought we'd divide it in half so we'd have two nesting boxes, just in case. I could cut out the back wall of the cabinet, and put wire mesh in there, but I thought hens liked privacy for their setting . . . . Sounds like we should just change being able to not have to walk in the pen to get the eggs, and put it on the north side . . . . it will definitely be hot during the summer the way we've planned it . . . .

    So, back to the drawing board (again) -- but we've got to do something quickly, because they're all getting big!javascript:insert_text('[​IMG]',%20'');

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    carroll
     
  4. Kudzu

    Kudzu Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 27, 2011
    Pics please:cool:
     
  5. coloradonewbie

    coloradonewbie Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 25, 2011
    Here are the pics (I hope)! This is my third attempt to post pictures, so if this doesn't work, I'm just going to bed!

    I was hoping to build the coop this weekend -- and it's supposed to snow tonight and rain until Tuesday/Wednesday -- let's hope the usual Boulder luck lasts, and the sun comes out for most of the days . . .

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    OK, I'm going to bed! I apparently have already uploaded the images, but I don't know how to post them in a reply to this thread! Maybe tomorrow I'll be smarter (probably not . . .)! This is so frustrating!

    Ah, well -- maybe my housemate can help me . . . .
     
  6. coloradonewbie

    coloradonewbie Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 25, 2011
    But we have the Virginia Creeper all pulled off, and the coop latches replaced, so at least there's 'some' progress . . . .javascript:insert_text('[​IMG]',%20'');
     
  7. coloradonewbie

    coloradonewbie Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 25, 2011
    Another attempt, this time through Flickr! javascript:insert_text('[​IMG]',%20'');

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  8. coloradonewbie

    coloradonewbie Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 25, 2011
    That was the inside of the chicken's turtle pen; here are some other pictures that might show the scale a bit. Sorry they aren't better -- not handy with this camera either, obviously!

    [​IMG] javascript:insert_text('[​IMG]',%20'');

    Here are the chickens!
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    on its side view of between the pen and the green shed;
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  9. coloradonewbie

    coloradonewbie Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 25, 2011
    javascript:insert_text('[​IMG]',%20'');

    I think I might have to start all over again . . . .

    I wanted to build double walls, with dead air space in between, for comfort, but I'm having a bit of trouble figuring out how to install windows easily the way I've built the walls if I do double walls. I built components, instead of framing in walls, because I have gotten everything I could from the Resource recycling place, and I'm cutting boards with a skill saw, so nothing comes out "exactly" square . . . .

    The house is approximately 6 feet long, by 33" wide; the back wall is cut 36" high, and the front wall is 33" high (or thereabouts). I was going to plan on putting the house on a small platform, so that the chicken pen would be totally useful for scratching -- but after reading Patandchickens' articles about ventilation, cold coops, and muddy runs, I don't know whether I should put it on the floor, take it apart and make it smaller (I'm building for 6 chickens, even though we only have 4 now) -- I REALLY don't want to take it apart and change the size right now, but if I'm going to put it on the floor, that takes up 18 square feet of the pen -- and the pen's approximately 6.5 x 11 feet . . . . I was trying to go by the 'at least 4 square feet per chicken' rule -- my roomie's suggestion was to make the coop much smaller (since that's what her friend did who lives in the same neighborhood, with 5 chickens -- for warmth), but I want it to be good for the chickens. They're not going to be let out of their pen much, and the nesting box is going to be inside the house inside the pen, so .. . . At 18 square feet, that's about enough for 5 chickens and we're planning on having 6 by next year.

    My camera's battery is out, so I can't post any pics at the moment, but basically I attached 2X4's (some rough-hewn, so I put the heavy ones on the bottom) to the top and bottom of the plywood that makes up the front and back walls, with 2X2's or doubled up 1x2's) inbetween the 2x4's, to which I attached the plywood sides. (Yes, it would be a lot easier with pics, so I'll post as soon as I can).

    It's the This End Up approach of putting components together. It makes for a very heavy box that at the moment is roofless and floorless. My construction friend wisely suggested that I make the floor separately, since I'm putting legs on it -- we cut the plywood a bit longer and wider than the box -- so now I'm trying to figure out how to ventilate it! Pat suggests more rather than less -- but it's not going to be that tall, and don't the roosts need to be 18" off the floor (with a poop board underneath, of course?) If the chickens grow to be 12" high, that doesn't leave enough room for them to be on their roosts out of the drafts, if I put windows in . . . .

    Any suggestions? Have I made it way bigger than it should be? Math (and carpentry) are not my strong points, obviously!

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