Coop build and questions

drinkoj

Songster
Premium Feather Member
May 24, 2020
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Upstate South Carolina
My plan is to build 4 nesting boxes, 12"x14", we currently have 4 Buff Orphingtons, but will add more in the spring. Must the nesting boxes be positioned higher than floor level? I had planned on the nesting boxes being at floor level, but could raise them a few inches, if necessary.
Others with much greater knowledge are helping you, but I will say this, be sure to add about a 4 inch lip to the entrance of nesting boxes to make them hop over. The chickens are going to kick the bedding out and it helps keep it in the box.
 

Returnofsid

In the Brooder
May 9, 2020
11
15
23
Do people spread straw throughout the whole interior of the coop, with more straw in the nesting boxes? Or, is the interior floor kept bare, with straw only in the nesting boxes? I had planned on a thin layer, throughout the entire interior, to "catch" poop.
 

drinkoj

Songster
Premium Feather Member
May 24, 2020
466
864
166
Upstate South Carolina
Do people spread straw throughout the whole interior of the coop, with more straw in the nesting boxes? Or, is the interior floor kept bare, with straw only in the nesting boxes? I had planned on a thin layer, throughout the entire interior, to "catch" poop.
Most use pine shavings on the coop floor and a few use sand (Uck!). Straw mainly in the nesting boxes. Straw tends to hold moisture longer, gets moldy, and not decompose as well. I HAD only straw in my nesting boxes but when I opened my nesting boxes a few weeks ago, the girls started kicking pine shaving into the boxes with the straw. I just add a handful of straw to the nesting boxes each week to keep it comfy looking for appearance for myself and the wife, plus they kick some of the straw onto the coop floor no matter what you do.

PS: I throw scratch on my coops floor to keep the girls turning the pine shavings (4 to 6 inches deep) and draw them in the coop for lockdown. So when I do my bi-annual coop cleaning, I can move it to the run and start the cold compost process quicker. Free mulch for the flower beds.
 

NatJ

Crowing
Mar 20, 2017
3,576
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USA
Do people spread straw throughout the whole interior of the coop, with more straw in the nesting boxes? Or, is the interior floor kept bare, with straw only in the nesting boxes? I had planned on a thin layer, throughout the entire interior, to "catch" poop.
People usually spread something on the floor of the coop.
Wood shavings seem pretty popular. The chickens tend to scratch them around and mix in the poop.
Straw, hay, wood chips, dry leaves, sawdust--lots of options.
Any of those can be composted when they get thoroughly poopy.

Some of those tend to become a packed down, smelly mat. You can add more on top, or clean the whole thing out and start again.

Which is best depends on what's available to you, and how you like to manage it.
For example, if you have access to many bags of dry leaves in the fall, you might just put in a new layer each day, and move the whole lot to a compost pile in the spring. But if you have to buy bedding, you might find that wood shavings stay usable longer and are a better deal for you.

Some people use sand, and sift the poop out as if it were a cat's litter box. (Sand does not compost well!) I have no personal experience with sand, but I see that some people really like it and some really do not.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
85,842
101,412
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SW Michigan
My Coop
Do people spread straw throughout the whole interior of the coop, with more straw in the nesting boxes? Or, is the interior floor kept bare, with straw only in the nesting boxes? I had planned on a thin layer, throughout the entire interior, to "catch" poop.
What kind of bedding you use may depend on how you manage the manure.
This is about cleaning, but covers my big picture
-I use poop boards under roosts with thin(<1/2") layer of sand/PDZ mix, sifted daily(takes 5-10mins) into bucket going to friends compost.
-Scrape big or wet poops off roost and ramps as needed.
-Pine shavings on coop floor, add some occasionally, totally changed out once or twice a year, old shavings added to run.
- My runs have semi-deep litter(cold composting), never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
Aged ramial wood chippings are best IMO.
-Nests are bedded with straw, add some occasionally, change out if needed(broken egg).
There is no odor, unless a fresh cecal has been dropped and when I open the bucket to add more poop.

That's how I keep it 'clean', have not found any reason to clean 'deeper' in 7 years.
 

U_Stormcrow

Songster
Jun 7, 2020
468
835
166
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
OK, I see I'm late to the party, and don't have the experience of most of the other posters, only benefit of a lot of reading, and some odd quirks in the way my memory works. (its a disorganized mess in here!)

So, in no particular order.

You have 32sq ft. less structure, less roost boxes, food, water, and anything else you put in there. Its big enough for not more than 8 (bantam) birds, likely closer to 4 or 6 full size, depending on how much room your nest boxes take. Brahma start small, grow slowly, but they become big birds. I'd call that space for 5 +/-1

On that subject, you have too many boxes. Two will meet your needs, easily - and you will benefit by making them outside accessible through a hinged door or similar. You want a small lip on the nesting boxes to help keep bedding material in, and you want them raised enough that soiled bedding doesn't start making its way into the egg laying area. Say, 6-8" off the floor, with 1x3 framing for the lip, either 3/8" or 1/2" osb structure. A few pieces of peel and stick tile will aid the occasional nest cleaning need, as will a cheap piece of vinyl flooring on the main floor - or several thick coats of good paint.

Your roosting bars you want above that, to encourage birds to roost not in the nesting boxes. While the heights you propose for your roost bars are not unreasonable, remember that keeping drafts and moist air - particularly in the cooler months - off your birds is a priority, and the bird itself takes up space above the bar, which moves the lower height of your windows up. You get some credit here because while Spokane is cold, its also relatively arid, with roughly half the US annual precipitation rate, and most of that in the form of snowfall. I'd drop roost height to 12-15", and put both bars at the same height. Truly, you only need one, given the flock size. They are so low, poop boards probably aren't practical - something to keep in mind as you consider your litter method.

The "rule of thumb" is 1sq ft of ventilation per bird. Assuming 4 birds in your house, that's 4 sq ft of ventilation, or 576 sq inches, minimum. Each 2" dia hole you drill offers 3.1" sq inch of ventilation. You need about 200 of them. Sorry, that looks worse in print than I intend.

The point is, even before reducing their effective ventilation area for the louvered coverings I imagine you will use, they just don't offer enough air flow to be worth the effort. Even using 4" soffit vents offers just 12 sq inch per hole. The little 2" vents are to allow trapped moisture to escape structures that might otherwise accumulate between a facade (often brick or stone) and the stick built structure behind it, while the round soffit vents were popular retro fixes when adding ridge vents to equalize airflow.

The other windows you've proposed, two at 9x9 are 81 sq in each, or 160 sq inch total, and three at 8x14, 112 sq in ea, 336 for them all. All told, you have less than 500 square inches of ventilation - almost enough for three birds, not four or six. Since you are rapidly running out of wall space, I'd normally suggest soffit venting on your overhang, but you have no soffits. Where else, close to the roof line, can you locate venting without impeding on structural elements?

Lighting is up to you, I recommend LEDs, minimizes fire risk. You don't need heat, particularly with the Brahma, unless you are brooding chicks - which you won't be doing in that hen house for a host of reasons too lengthy to list here.

Raising it up on 2' legs is a great idea, for a host of reasons, but your structure will be too heavy for wheels unless you intend to put riding lawnmower tires on it, and run it on a 5/8" bolt driven through the leg. Even then, you will need to tow it, carefully, as it will be top heavy. Tow bar on the WIDE side for stability. Assuming you scrap the wheels idea, you do want to secure it to the ground somehow for the occasional high wind, and orient it so the narrow side faces your prevailing wind direction. Whether you do that with sunken legs and poured concrete, buried cinder block and chain, earth augurs and steel cable (shed tie down kit) or some other method depends mostly on local soil conditions. I can't research those for you from here.

You get snow, about 4' per year, and your roof pitch is roughly 3/12. It won't shed itself, but that's a small area to clear off periodically, even if not at a convenient height. What are you doing for roofing material??? and how did you frame your rafters for snow load?

Finally, what are you doing for your run, which can help compensate for a number of shortfalls in optimum coop? Or are you fortunate enough to be able to allow them to free range in all bust the worst of weather?

Oh, and on light, heat, and frozen water supplies for your birds during January, where your average high is 33, and average low of 22, how are you running power and water to the structure, and keeping that water from freezing??? Your fire risk (assuming you use LEDs and skip the heat lamp) is more likely in an extension cord and power strip then any other place in this build.

That's what I've got, from a place of wanting to help, not any desire to tear down your efforts. Apologies I've not the words to frame it better.

/edit and I have Dark Brahma. Love the coloration on your Lights, they weren't available to me or I'd have gone that route, instead of dark. The choice of Brahma at all in my climate was with *some* trepidation, they are much better suited to yours. All the best to you and your family on your build and your flock.
 
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rosemarythyme

Crossing the Road
Jul 3, 2016
12,091
22,381
792
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
Do people spread straw throughout the whole interior of the coop, with more straw in the nesting boxes? Or, is the interior floor kept bare, with straw only in the nesting boxes? I had planned on a thin layer, throughout the entire interior, to "catch" poop.
Lots of choices were mentioned by others up above. More ideas (with pros and cons for some) here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...ype-of-coop-bedding-do-you-like-best.1384788/

But you do want some form of litter on the coop floor, to catch and absorb poop (and poop moisture), to help provide cushion as chickens come off the perch, and to allow for easier cleaning.

I use wood chips since it's free for me. Wood shavings are probably the most popular.
 
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U_Stormcrow

Songster
Jun 7, 2020
468
835
166
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
Oh, and I use straw in my coop and nesting boxes. My girls tend to kick it from the boxes into the coop, so I usually refill via the boxes, to keep them cleanest. I don't use poop boards, so the straw becomes part of my deep bedding method. The floor is hardieboard (essentially concrete and fiberglass). The design of my coop (a U shape raised floor around a central shaft) allows them to then kick soiled straw bedding "downstairs" where the ducks sleep. there it becomes part of a deep litter method.

Leaves and/or wood chips would work as well, but straw was readily available, and can be either cut on my property or bought cheap from neighbors.

My method WILL NOT work for you, so I don't recommend it in your case. Go with the suggestions of the other, more experienced posters here - like @aart, @rosemarythyme, @NatJ, @drinkoj, etc. Besides telling you won't won't work for you, all I can suggest is that you look to what resources are readily and cheaply available in your area, then consider how you can best use/dispose of them later. Already, with a coop just 2' off the ground, raking out spent straw will have to be either to the ground, or perhaps a garden cart/wagon. Wheelbarrows are too tall (typically around 32-36").
 

NatJ

Crowing
Mar 20, 2017
3,576
5,618
366
USA
I'd drop roost height to 12-15", and put both bars at the same height. Truly, you only need one, given the flock size. They are so low, poop boards probably aren't practical - something to keep in mind as you consider your litter method.
You're considering roost height relative to window height, but I recommend putting them a little higher because of floor height: if the chickens can easily and freely walk under the roost bars, they can make better use of the floor space in the coop.

I agree about skipping poop boards. There is not enough total height to stack floor, space for birds to walk, poop boards, roosts, ventilation, roof.
 

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