chicken mistakes (coop building questions)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by jjconcepts, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. jjconcepts

    jjconcepts Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 24, 2009
    milford ct
    I am new to chickens, in fact I pick up my first 6 pullets march 26. I have done a lot of research and found that keeping poultry is like keeping an aquarium - several "correct' ways of raising them. As I draw up plans for my first coop, can everyone share some mistakes that I can hopefully avoid making as I jump in. My 10 year old already named our new family members, so the pressure is on! and is there an inexpensive thermostat out that will turn on a light or heater when it gets too cold?

    thank you everyone in advance for your help.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2009
  2. Farmer Brown

    Farmer Brown Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 22, 2008
    Raleigh, NC
    [​IMG] First take a deep breath................. Now, you have already avoided the first mistakes, you are planning before you get your chickens and you found BYC before you get your chickens. I would say that the biggest coop area to focus on is making the coop predator proof. We have yet to lose a bird to preds. [​IMG] but there are many horror stories on here about them and remember that your biggest threat could be the neighborhood (or your) dog. Spend some time searching BYC and you will find tons of info on coops, predators, and everything else you would ever want to know. Also , what kind of pullets are you getting and how old will they be?
  3. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 8, 2008
    Portage County, Ohio
    First off, Happy to meet you! Glad you're here!! [​IMG] Hope you enjoy our company!! [​IMG] WELCOME to BYC!!!

    Then, I have to say I like this idea!! I'll start with just a couple, and I'll bet some others will add, cause we've all made them.

    as far as coop design goes,

    ***Poor ventilation, (good ventilation that is not drafty is more important than actual heat in the winter IMO)

    ***Too many nest boxes. (hens tend to share the most popular one or two, often the other 6 are wasted space)

    ***Next Boxes too high. (by keeping them low, as in a foot or so off the ground, they won't try to roost in or on the boxes.)

    And here's a link to a easy thermostat that doesn't require wiring, just don't put it too close to the bulb itself.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2009
  4. rigagirl

    rigagirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2008
    churchville ny
    I say THINK BIG! make enough room for more. chickens are addictive you will end up with more then you ever planned on.
  5. jjconcepts

    jjconcepts Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 24, 2009
    milford ct
    I am ordering the chickens wednesday from benedicts garden and driving up to pick them up in a cat carrier. rhode island red (1). barred rock(1). buff orpington (2) and silver laced wyandotte (2) . seems to be a good mix.
    There are some others available : red cross and americana among a few others. I am usure exactly how old the are, just that they are pullets. but they are sexed to just hens. Is it fine to have one of each, or do some breeds do better in pairs?
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Welcome. I agree with you completely. There are a lot of right ways to raise them. And there are often downsides to the different methods too. It is often a tradeoff. A lot of my suggestions or comments will not apply to certain type coops. Pick and choose as you will.

    Don't forget to make the coop convenient to you, not just the chickens. If you are going to enter it, make it tall enough and roomy enough for you to work.

    Determine how you will handle the poop. Some people clean daily. Some set it up to clean annually, especially with the deep litter method. Depending on you coop, make your roosts so you can get them out of the way to clean the poop, either removable or fold-up. If you plan to use a wheelbarrow, can it get through the door. Make the door sill high enough that the litter stays inside.

    If you are building from scratch it will be easier, but try to set it up so you can do as much as possible without going in the coop or the run and stepping in the poop, like gathering eggs, feeding and watering, opening and closing the door to the run.

    Doors should open out so the litter inside does not build up and block them. I'm converting an end of a shed into a coop. I'll have a door I can go from the coop to the run but a second door I can get into the coop without going through the run. I expect the run to be quite muddy at times.

    Plan food storage. I'll use metal trash cans to try to keep the vermin out. Also plan where you will store litter and other necessities where they are convenient to you.

    To try to keep the floor of the coop drier, I'll mound a few inches of dirt on the floor so it drains to the outside. Putting the coop on a slope where it will drain would accomplish the same thing. You might try trenching on the uphill side to keep the water out, but don't trench right at the coop. That could encourage predators to dig into your coop.

    You don't want the roosts too near the nest boxes or over the food and water if you feed and water inside the coop. They poop a lot when roosting. And I saw a recent post where the chickens used the nest boxes to get to the roost and one chicken would stop off on the way up and roost in the nest box. Made a mess.

    I plan on using 1/4" hardware cloth as the floor of my nesting boxes. I saw where someone thought they were more flexible and would reduce eggs breakings but I'm not sure I agree with that. The reason I am doing it is that I think it will keep the nests cleaner.

    I'll put a window on the north side to avoid direct sunlight but give me light when I am working in there without turning the lights on. Chickens cannot see well in the dark and if the coop is too dark, they might hesitate to go to roost.

    If you can, position your coop and run where you can see it from the house. You and the 10 year old will love the antics of the chickens and you will be able to better see if something is going on or if doors are open that should not be.

    Plan a chicken prison. This is to break up a broody hen or isolate a hen that is being cannibalized or needs isolation for some other reason.

    Bigger is better. Crowding leads to cannibalism and you might want room to get more chickens later.

    Read Patandchickens ventilation page. It should be required reading for anyone designing a coop.

    These are some of my thoughts and considerations. Pick and choose as you wish and as fits your situation. I'm sure there are people on this site that will disagree with some of this. I don't agree with everything I read here either. But I'm learning a lot and most of what I read makes good sense.
    1 person likes this.
  7. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 8, 2008
    Portage County, Ohio
    I don't think they care at all breed wise. *shrugs*

    Another thing after reading Rigagirls post about size, it's not just for room for more birds either, if they are crowded, they are stressed, when they're stressed, they pick on each other a lot. Living up north, in the winter they'll be indoors a lot, and if they're too crowded they'll pick and peck at each other and squabble more. lots of room is best esp in the winter!
  8. ChickBond 007

    ChickBond 007 Licensed to Cull

    Feb 26, 2009
    Madison County, Iowa
    Thanks for posting this question & thanks for posting your responses. I also get my first chicks in the week of March 23, and am trying to take in as much info from this website as possible.

    BTW: what is "hardware cloth"?
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Good list so far, and I agree heartily with all of it (how often does *that* happen? [​IMG])

    Two things I'd add, because they're fairly easy to take care of at the design/construction stage and pretty tough later on:

    -- consider having your popdoor into the run (for sure, and possibly the people door into the coop too) six to twelve inches above the floor of the coop. Otherwise, if the bottom sill of the door is at floor level, once you put bedding in the coop it will tend to spill out every time you open a door and then make it hard to close the door again. Chickens have *no* problem hopping up a little to the popdoor and it makes your life ever so much easier. If you want to have a high sill like this for your people door but still want wheelbarrow access, either plan to prop boards up as a ramp on wheelbarrow occasions, or make the sill below the door removeable (BUT SECURE AGAINST PREDATORS)

    -- the drier your run is, the happier you and your chickens will be. What you need to do to achieve this depends on climate and site; a roof may be necessary in very rainy places (make sure it is engineered vs snowload unless it *never* snows), but you also wanna ensure that roof runoff is directed elsewhere, surface runoff is directed elsewhere, and the run is slightly above the surrounding grade (remember chickens will erode and compact a typical run as time goes by).

    (e.t.a. - hardwarecloth is a sturdy welded wire 1/2" or 1/4" mesh, comes in widths from 2' to 6', nothing short of a bear will rip through it if it is well attached, make sure you get the galvanized stuff; and chickens will be fine if you get one-of-this-breed-one-of-that-and-one-of-the-other, although they may slightly prefer to hang with their own breed if given a choice)

    Good luck, have fun, welcome to BYC,

    Last edited: Mar 2, 2009
  10. chickensista

    chickensista Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2008
    Hi JJ,
    [​IMG] I got some chicks from Benedicts last year. They are all healthy and doing fine. Are you getting chicks or larger birds? (they sell 17 wk old pullets too). From your list it sounds like you are getting chicks(babies) If not, just wanted you to be aware that they sell their older birds debeaked.

    FYI, the rhode island reds I ordered from them last year ended up being sex link birds. Some one messed up. No biggie for me- they are great birds.

    I've always had a mixed flock. I like the eclectic look. [​IMG] Sometimes it seems they pair up by breed, but maybe its my imagination. All the breeds you listed do fine together.

    Have fun!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by