Chicken Housing Question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by sean2571, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. sean2571

    sean2571 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 31, 2013
    Hey all,

    I'm in the process of getting geared up as a first time chicken raiser. I live in a ranch home on a full walk-out basement. My master bedroom (on the main level) juts out over the back yard, creating an area of 225 sq. ft. I've framed out the entire area under my bedroom, giving me complete coverage for my chickens. I've applied the poultry wire from bottom to top and also installed a screen door for access.

    Since pre-fabbed coops can be expensive, I've decided to build one to place inside the enclosed area. Our winters in Raleigh, NC never get too cold, so I don't believe I need a traditional coop, but do want a comfortable place for the chickens to lay. My plan is to start with four chickens.

    I would appreciate any thoughts as to what my options are.

    Sean T.
    Raleigh, NC
     
  2. bruceha2000

    bruceha2000 Overrun With Chickens

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    NW Vermont
    The coop isn't needed so much for cold vs warm weather but for protection from predators and wind. Thus, if you aren't going to build a coop, and I don't think one necessarily needs a space that is 95% enclosed in wood:

    I hope that by "poultry wire" you mean hardware cloth and not hex chicken wire fencing. The latter will keep chickens in or out but predators can rip through it. Even if they don't rip it off, smaller ones like coons can reach through the wire and snag a bird near the fence. Plus, 1/2" hardware cloth will keep mice and other small rodents out of your feeders inside the area.

    1. Make sure that any rain that falls will drain away from the area since there will be no elevated coop. Last thing you want is a soggy bottom in your coop/run area.
    2. You need to make sure NOTHING can dig under the walls or get over the top of them, NOTHING. That means 1/2" hardware cloth continuing down the wall and buried at least 18" out. Not necessary to bury it 18" down, digging predators will start near the fence that is between them and food. If there is even a SMALL opening, something will be able to get in. DO NOT use ARROW type staples to fix the hardware cloth to the frame. When people talk about stapling the wire on, they mean poultry staples, not staple gun staples. You can pull the latter out simply by pulling on the wire fencing. Poultry staples are CHEAP and easy to get at Tractor Supply or other places. They are just U shaped pieces of wire pointed on both ends. You can also use screws over wood strips or through fender washers (someone posted they used flattened out beer bottle caps). This will be much more expensive, but easier to do.
    3. Latches that need an opposable thumb to operate. Some critters, like raccoons, can get into almost anything.
    4. You need to enclose 3 sides of the area. I'm guessing one is the basement wall so no problem there. Figure out which direction the wind blows from and leave the opposite side open if possible. But, IF the three closed sides are tight and strong, it doesn't matter which side is open because wind can not enter if there is no path out. If you want a lot of light, you can use clear plastic tarps (get them online). You might still need some way to block rain and snow from blowing into the "coop" on the open side.
    5. You need roosts (high) and nesting boxes (lower than the roosts). Put the roosts near the back wall. They feel safer high off the ground and near walls. Try to have enough length at the top level that all the birds you get (now and after you learn Chicken Math) can be high. They WANT to be high and if there isn't enough room, those not at the top of the pecking order will not be on the top roosts. ALSO, make sure the area over the roosts is water tight, no rain dripping on the birds while they sleep! Same for the nest boxes if they aren't covered. I'd put those near the door so you don't HAVE to go too far into the coop to collect. You might even want to build a freestanding unit that you can get to from outside the coop. Just a convenience. You can get away with several plastic bins on a rack a foot or two off the ground. Some people like these because they are easy to clean, however in my 7 months of chicken ownership and 3 months of chickens laying, I've not seen any need to clean the boxes. Only pine shavings and the occasional chicken feather in there.
    6. And, of course, food (use a hanging feeder so they don't kick shavings into it) and water. I'm fond of the "remote source" nipple water system where the water pipe is in the coop but the container is outside, no need to carry heavy water containers into the coop.
    7. Don't forget the container of oyster shells when they get close to laying age (18 to 28 weeks is "common" and if they don't have access to natural grit, another for grit. These can be simple cans hung from the wall, I'm using an old metal "small loaf" bread pan.
    Post some pictures of what you've got so far and people can make more suggestions.

    Bruce
     
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  3. sean2571

    sean2571 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 31, 2013
    Great information, Bruce. Thanks so much. As it concerns using hardware cloth, I'd planned on using it initially, but went with a 1" hex chicken wire to save cost. I have friends that raise chickens that use the hex type, as well. In our area, the main concern is hawks and I've got 100% overhead coverage. We're not immune to the occasional raccoon, but I'm considering an alternate deterrent like a baby monitor. (The area is directly below my bedroom). I did, however, extend the wire a couple feet out from the enclosure, and under the sod. I do plan on building a beefed-up version of a nest box, accessible from the outside of the enclosure.

    Thanks again for the information. It was very helpful. I'm second-guessing my shortcut of using the hex wire in lieu of hardware cloth, but may decide to give it a go and see what happens since it's already installed.

    Sean
     
  4. bruceha2000

    bruceha2000 Overrun With Chickens

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    NW Vermont
    My understanding is that you can get away with only having the 1/2" hardware cloth on the lower few feet, so the coons can't reach in and snag a bird that is by the fence. I thihnk foxes would try to get through the wire from ground level as well. But if you have small weasels (like the ermines we have here) a 1" hole is a narrow alley and they climb. I expect the buried 1" chicken wire will be OK, again assuming no small weasels, but you will very likely get mice or voles in.

    Good luck with your project. I am quite enjoying my first chickens, received as 2 day old chicks mid June of last year. They each have their own personality! They do have one thing in common (and in common with my teen aged daughter): The most interesting thing about YOU to the chickens is that you feed THEM [​IMG]

    Bruce
     
  5. sean2571

    sean2571 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 31, 2013
    Again, Bruce. Thanks for your help, my friend. Stay tuned to see how I fair.
     

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