Converting sheds to coop, opinions wanted

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by TJs chicklets, Mar 3, 2015.

  1. TJs chicklets

    TJs chicklets Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 3, 2015
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    I'm totally excited to have just placed my order for my first 5 chicks (welsummers), to arrive the end of April. I've been lurking here since before I had a property where I could have chickens, and am thrilled to be a part of this! The plan is to start with 5 chickens, and add 2-3 a year to keep lots of eggs coming.

    Anyway, on to my design. I have a shed (well, two, really, that are joined together), and I'm trying to decide on the best layout. We're in the middle of a snow storm, so I couldn't get good pictures tonight... The shed is about 5 by 17 feet- it's a 5x7 and a 5x10 foot shed stuck together (the wall is already down in between, mostly) and each has its own roof 7 feet tall. The run will come off of the 5ft end off of the larger shed end, size to be determined but as large as I can afford fencing for, lots of space. The sheds are on a concrete pad. The door goes into the larger shed along the 17 ft stretch; the smaller shed has a large window on that side (south facing).

    So, my questions. Would it make sense to have roosts in the smaller section, complete insulate and draft proof it, except for roof/gable vents, then put food, water, nest boxes in the larger section? Or the other way? How high should I put the roosts? Or should I configure it a different way entirely? I'm open to any ideas/suggestions!
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Really, whatever is most convenient for you. Make the roosts higher than the nest boxes. Mine are 30" off the floor and 12" from the wall. If your chickens tend to form themselves into two or more "sub-flocks," things might be more peaceful with two or more roosts. Allow about 9" of roost space per bird, and one nest per 4 layer hens.

    I think the main challenge in converting sheds is usually getting enough good ventilation at a high point in the coop, to draw the moissture and ammonia outdoors. Check out the link in my sig line.
     
  3. Monguire

    Monguire Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Insulation in a chicken coop is highly unnecessary and actually lends itself to trapping all the nastiness inside. A coop must breathe...that means NOT building it tight like one might build a people-home. Many points of ventilation at all levels of the coop (but especially up high) will serve you best. Natural convection is your friend. Warm, humid ammonia-filled filled air exits high pulling fresh air in low. Depending on where you live, be mindful not to have a permanent huge gaping hole in the wall right beside the roost though. There is a fine line between proper ventilation and draft.

    That said, chickens are INCREDIBLY hardy animals and a little draftiness is no bother to them. They utilize their warm downy coats to great effect. Coops of old were wood-slat barns with up to an inch between every board. That's a LOT of draft yet chickens thrived. It's our nature to overdo the care of our beloved pets.

    We use 1/2 of our 12x20 shed as a coop for flock. We opted to build two raised U-shaped poop-boards filled with Sweet PDZ above which we put the roosts. In the picture below, the camera is right above the man-door going out to the 12x16 secured run. It shows the screen-door opposite that leads to the rest of the shed. On the left side under the poop-boards are the three rollout nest boxes and on the right the feeder and 5 gallon water bucket with horizontal nipples installed all around the base. The poop-boards are about 3 feet high (no stooping or bending to clean them) with the roosts being 4 inches above them. We have all large breeds so the ramps were installed for their well-being.

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    You'll find a TON of great ideas in this forum! Good luck!
     
  4. TJs chicklets

    TJs chicklets Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 3, 2015
    Ontario, Canada
    I do live in Canada, we haven't seen above freezing temps in 38 days now... Unusually cold, but still. I do know several people who have had their chickens "freeze to death," and I understand this is a ventilation problem, but still a concern. So that's why I'm thinking if I make the part of the coop where they roost as tight as I can, except for some roof or gable vents, and leave the other half more naturally drafty (and it is, it came with the house!) that might be okay. I don't plan on heating. But is it better to have the window in the roost part? Does it matter? The window (smaller shed) part Is probably more airtight right now. How much space between the roosts and the roof so there is no draft on them from the vents?

    I was thinking of converting an old dresser into nest boxes, but if the roosts have to be higher, I'm not sure if they will be out of the draft. Maybe I'll cut the legs off the dresser...

    Thanks for the input!
     
  5. Monguire

    Monguire Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't think window placement is critical. In the case of my prefab shed, a big double window happened to be at the same height the roost would be. I didn't plan it that way and those windows stay closed all winter due to their proximity to the roost but methinks the flock might appreciate them being open come late spring and summer.

    I'm a picture guy...I'm trying to visualize the layout of your coop as you described but I can't really hazard a guess about roost/ceiling height without more detail than you probably have at this point in time. More roost space than you need is ALWAYS a good idea both for pecking order issues and the unstoppable hand of chicken-math when it grabs you (and it will!) so you could build roosts (even temporary ones) at varying heights right up to the tippy-top of your coop and allow the chooks to decide where they like/feel most comfortable.

    The roosts do not HAVE to be higher than the nesting boxes...it's just a general rule of thumb to avoid potential issues down the road with chooks roosting in the boxes (they like roosting as high as they can safely) at night and soiling them with their incessant pooping. The nesting boxes are ONLY for laying unless you happen to be in the minority that enjoy fresh eggs coated in chicken poop! [​IMG]

    Bottom line, don't stress too much. They are chickens and have thrived for thousands of years before we started getting all up in their grill with selective breeding, electricity and heat. [​IMG] Most important thing is they have a SAFE, SECURE domicile of adequate space (for my large-fowl breeds that's at least 4 square feet per bird in the coop and 10 square feet per bird of covered run space). This might seem excessive in the summer if your chooks are out free-ranging the rolling hills all day but Canada being Canada, it will be VERY important that they have this space when they are coop/run-bound for months on end because of the snow depth. Anything less is just inviting potential behavioral issues into your flock.
     
  6. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    I like having the nestboxes attached to the bottom of the poop trays.
     
  7. TJs chicklets

    TJs chicklets Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 3, 2015
    Ontario, Canada
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    Some pics of the coop, as it came with the house. As in, I take no responsibility for it ;) Also, way too much snow....

    Turns out it is already insulated; it was significantly warmer in there when I went out yesterday. It's windy today (and snowing :barnie ) so I'm going to go out and check for drafts, take a thermometer, too. See how much ventilation I need.

    The wooden floor part with the window is where I'm going to build the roosts; something attached to the floor as I'm not entirely sure about what's in the walls- significant lack of screws/nails visible in the chip board :)

    The little wall with the shelves built in will have the pop door to the run, I think, and I will either take the shelves (and the weird contraption beside it) out, or put the nest boxes on it. The last photo is of potential nest boxes I found :)

    I'm hoping the water on the floor goes away when I repair the roof- it leaks where the two sheds meet, and surprisingly, when another owner tried to fix it with a flat piece of metal (with no plan for the water to go anywhere) it didn't work ;). There doesn't seem to be any mold (I'm pretty sensitive), so it might be mostly because of the roof melt.

    The last image is my thought for the run- we can't dig too deep for posts as I'm not sure exactly where the septic bed is, so I'm hoping to make it work mostly above ground- maybe deck blocks and 4x4s in the cornered, centre of long sides. I have about 20 2x6s hanging around looking for something to do :) I'm also considering not having a pop door on the shed (dh is worried about cutting through the metal, the shed on the left is an old metal shed, insulated then covered) so I might bring the run back so they can just use the man door.

    Anything I'm missing? Improvements?
     

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