Chick, Coop, Chicken Plans Critique?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ShannonO, Mar 4, 2017.

  1. ShannonO

    ShannonO Out Of The Brooder

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    Here's a collection of my notes and thoughts after lots of BYC reading, three years of waiting, and lots of chicken admiring!

    First-Timer Chicken Strategy

    Goals:
    - Learn about and experience the food cycle directly, expose my kids to it in a positive, fun way
    - Develop a source of nutrient-dense, very fresh eggs. In our household of seven, we consume about 24-28 eggs per week.
    - Generate fertilizer for our large (100x100) family vegetable garden
    - Experience all the fun, trials, and tribulations that come with being responsible for and caring for other living beings

    Coop Plans: The Garden Loft (http://www.thegardencoop.com/large-chicken-coop-plans.html)

    Size: Measures about 11.5'w x 9'd x 8.5'h (3.6 x 2.75 x 2.6 m), outer dimensions. Henhouse: 34.5 sq ft (3.2 sq meter). Run: 102 sq ft (9.5 sq meter).

    Location: >100’ft from dwellings, >25’ from property line, in the woods, next to our large compost pile. Good sun in the Winter, lots of shade in the Summer. There is a 10’ drop in the grade, so I will need to build up the grade a bit to level. I’ll determine whether we have water runoff issues after it is built, with plans to install a gutter on the low side of the roof if needed.

    [​IMG]

    Build: Debating what should be treated lumber and what shouldn't. Right now I think just the base will be treated, everything else sealed with paint. Building with a professional carpenter directing me. He wants everything cedar but he also isn't paying for it. The cost for cedar is 3X that of plain framing pine.

    I was going to modify the henhouse, blocking off room for storage because originally we planned on only six hens. But chicken math kicked in and 10 are on the way so we will build the plans almost without modification. I'll mod the roosts so that they're removable for easy storage. I do need a supplies storage solution.

    Henhouse litter: I have been reading the Poop board and SweetPDZ megathread. I originally planned sand but it looks like PDZ is a great alternative albeit more expensive: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/621363/poop-board-convert-warning-graphic-gross-poop-pictures/360 . The floor of the henhouse will be linoleum.

    Run litter: Deep Litter Method started with lots of leaves from the surrounding woods, a bale of straw, and grass clippings turned in from the first lawn cuts of the Spring.

    Chicks: I picked breeds from one of the local southern states’ breed list according to the delivery date I wanted. The ones I DIDN’T get but still could are light and dark Brahmas, buckeye, white rock and New Hampshire red (should I add them back???). Here's my order, set for delivery 3/13:

    Araucana (2)
    Barred Rock
    White Leghorn
    Black Australop
    Rhode Island Red
    Buff Orpington
    Golden Laced Wyandotte
    Welsummer (2)

    Brooder: I have a 2’x2’x18” wood box and a 4’x4’x2’ wood box. I am going to lay linoleum down in the large box and cover with PDZ then pine shavings. I'll put the smaller brooder in the larger one to start. Plus paper towels for the first week?

    I have heat lamps (purchased as a lot with a number of of other chick supplies), but am considering the Mama Heating Pad option if I can find everything I need for it (MHP: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/956958/mama-heating-pad-in-the-brooder-picture-heavy-update/450) . If the coop was already built I would raise them outside. Since it isn't built yet, I will use our garage. I have a chick feeder and a hanging nipple waterer.

    I have two kids (3 and 5) and intend for them to tend the chicks with me daily, and later the hens outside. This endeavor is largely motivated by a wish to educate them about food life cycles as well as caring for livestock. We will probably skirt the line between pet and well-loved livestock.

    Keeping Chicks Healthy: I need to figure out what vaccinations come with the chicks. I should know this already but since SS was the only good option for this year’s chick order, I didn't check. I plan to ask at pickup. I will put a clump of sod in the brooder around week 1 for exposure to our local dirt and bacteria. That plus fermentation should be pretty good protection to start. Oh and I need to include unpasteurized ACV in their water.

    I've done a lot of reading on BYC on chick care. The summary take-away I have gleaned is to watch them, handle them, use common sense, and check for pasty butt. If any chicks seem off, isolate them, analyze, take pictures, and search for the problem on BYC or here: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ps044. Or if all else fails, make a post for immediate help.

    Feed: I intend to get unmedicated chick starter feed from southern states and ferment it using one-bucket backslopping. (https://www.google.com/amp/s/tikktok.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/fermented-feed-faq/amp/) I will probably need to ferment in my garage, and am hopeful it'll be warm enough.

    Once the girls move outside, I will have a hanging adult waterer and feeder. These came as part of a package. I'll probably feed a mix of dry and fermented for convenience’ sake. I assume I will make adjustments to the feeder and waterer over time as ideas and needs present themselves.

    I need to read about transitioning from brooder to Coop, but over got at least four weeks before that point.

    Adult Chicken Care

    Treats: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/chicken-treat-chart-the-best-treats-for-backyard-chickens

    I have a fake egg for later encouraging...but that's months away!


    What am I missing? What should I consider that I haven't? How many birds am I going to come home from the store with? 10 or chicken-math-10?

    Would love any constructive criticism, suggestions, or other comments!

    Edits with downthread suggestions:

    - Consider that the advertised max number of chickens (16) may not be true. It may really only fit 10 birds...
    - Horizontal nipple waterers are recommended
    - RIRs may be my problem birds, due to bullying
    - Need to do more research on roost placement. The design may be a problem because it may not leave enough space away from the walls.
    - Don't need as many nest boxes, two may suffice
    - Start a new thread for the coop build process. Track spending and labor hours.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  2. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow that is pretty thorough (honestly wish I thought that far ahead when I got my chicks). Are you planning on letting the chickens into the compost pile once in a while? I think they'd enjoy that and it would do wonders for aerating it as well.

    Always expect the unexpected (i.e. what would you do if you get an unplanned rooster) but overall I think you're well on your way!
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Merrymouse

    Merrymouse Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    Wow! Great job with planning. Sounds like your plan is pretty solid. The only thing I would add is get going on that coop. I don't know how much experience you have building but when I started my coop I had none. I started in early January and with my DH helping we are still not done and we've been pretty dedicated to it. I mean we do have jobs and all but all our other free time we've been working on it weather permitting as we are in New England. I was going to build the garden coop but decided to build a wichita so I'm really looking forward to following along in your process. So please post pics. Also, with the coop the biggest thing I've realized is something you think is going to take an hour will take 3 or more so plan accordingly. It also might be helpful if you state where your from so we can better advise and help by knowing your climate etc. There is a pretty simple way to put your nest boxes on the outside which would free up your floorspace in case chicken math sets in. It could be easily adapted to work with the garden loft instead of the boxes taking up floor space. Also I believe, but I could be wrong the garden loft is only 3 feet wide which I suppose would make it a bit easier to clean because you can easily reach to the back but you might consider making it 4 feet wide for two reasons. 1. lumber comes in 4 ft width and less cutting and if you have to buy the lumber that wide why waste it. 2. I worry that your chickens won't be able to get up or down from roosts easily without hitting into a wall etc. Im assuming you are getting large fowl and not bantams. I think the roosts in that plan go lengthwise or maybe you could just put your roosts the other way and make multiple ones.

    I was considering fermented feed also but not sure. What are you using for feeders with the feed? I just got those feeder buckets that chicks stick their heads in so that wont work with fermented feed so not sure which direction Im going in yet.

    Im getting many of the same breed as you too. Good luck and I'll be checking in [​IMG]
     
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  4. ShannonO

    ShannonO Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you! I have talked with all family members about the rooster possibility, and also about losing chicks, for their emotional preparation. If we get a rooster my first goal would be to find a farm that would let me come observe or participate in a processing and butchering day, to learn. Otherwise YouTube and lots of BYC. I do already know how to make a loving chicken stock and can it to save for only the best recipes.
     
  5. ShannonO

    ShannonO Out Of The Brooder

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    @Merrymouse Thank you!

    - I will look into the coop design re:3' henhouse width, I think I'll also contact the coop design seller to ask that question. How terrible if the chickens got concussions trying to get to their roosts?

    - I have been eyeing the outboard nest boxes! I am hesitant to change anything about the Coop design because I am scared it will take a lot of time. Which goes to your other point...I gotta get this Coop built! We just had a very major addition put on our house. I hired one of the lead carpenters from the house construction to help me with the coop. I have high hopes of his speed and my ability to keep up with him. I sent him the plans and the next day he had them all nicely printed in a binder with notes everywhere and a complete understanding of the build. I'm bartering with him a bit to keep the cost down.

    Would love to hear how your Coop build has gone. Have you kept a thread? (I'll go check once I finish typing.)

    I live in Maryland. We have been getting fairly high temps so I cross my fingers for continuing good build weather.

    I have one of those classic red feeders that I'll put dry food in for their free choice. I have a couple dog bowls for the fermended feed. If fermenting works out in the long run, I'll probably grab a piece of gutter and fashion a long feeder out of that. I'm hesitant about fermented feed because of the daily work, and I worry it'll get stinky wherever we end up fermenting. We shall see!
     
  6. ShannonO

    ShannonO Out Of The Brooder

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    @Merrymouse Just looked at the cutlist in The Garden Loft plans. The henhouse floor and the framing around it do use the wood efficiently, and it would be pretty hard to redesign.

    Now on to investigating whether the chickens will have a hard time getting up there...
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
  7. ShannonO

    ShannonO Out Of The Brooder

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    Oh, and you also asked will I let them in the compost pile? Yet to be determine. While I was leveling the block foundation, I watched a hawk dive bomb, catch, fly up, and eat a rabbit right above me. We have two resident hawks who nest in the neighbors yard not 100' from our coop site. So, while I like the idea of letting them forage when we are outside with them, I don't even then I can protect them if I'm RIGHT there.

    Next year we will raise a puppy and I will determine whether I can use he dog as chicken protection rather than predator. Slim chance but it is on my mind and already slated for next year's project.
     
  8. Merrymouse

    Merrymouse Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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  9. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I like your coop choice. Pleasing to the eye. I would like it at least 4' wide too so they can get down off the roosts. Couple of changes I would do if you stay with this design: move the roosts so they run the short way. They need to be 15" away from the wall to accommodate their bodies. Raise them so they are at least 2' off the ground. You will need 3 for 10 hens. You could do a ladder instead. Roosts should be 2x4 flat side up. Easier to balance on and cover their feet. Reduce the nesting to 2. 4 is overkill and a waste of time and money.
    Your chick selection is nice. Personally, I would leave out the RIR as they can be bullies in a mixed flock. Also be aware that the araucanas are infact EEs. There is not a single hatchery in the US that sells araucanas. Don't worry if you need to split your chicks so you get the ones you want. 1-2 week difference won't matter. Beyond that you'll they will be so different in size that you'll want to keep them separated until they are closer in size.
    Compost piles and chickens go hand in hand. Allowing chickens to work the garden before you plant will reduce the larvae and weeds dramatically. Mine come running when they hear the rototiller. The compost pile will provide tons of food thus reducing your feed bill plus the chickens will keep it stirred up speeding the breakdown of the pile
    May I suggest a separate post for the build. Itemize your costs, track your time, tools required, changes, ease of build... Give some first timers some concrete information.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Great that you've done that much research.

    Tho I think that coop/run is pretty small for 10 birds...
    .....even if you could free range, and you're right about the hawks taking a meal right at your feet so to speak.

    I highly recommend horizontal nipples over the vertical ones, right from the get go.
     

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