Coop building q's from a n00b!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by joneus, May 27, 2011.

  1. joneus

    joneus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm still working out my coop design and thought I'd ask for some input.

    I've gotten "tower clearance" to put the coop and run on the 10'X20'x2' concrete pad in my back yard (the previous owner had a HAM radio tower). The chickens will be free ranging most of the time, but will be confined to the coop/run when I'm not home so I plan to put the whole thing on pressure treated 4"x6" landscape timbers and fill it in with sand.

    My question is: Do I still need to put hardware cloth around the base of the coop or under the timbers in the run? I cant imagine anything being motivated enough to dig through 2' of concrete, but how often do predators try to get through the sides? I'm in south eastern CT and I know for a fact that there's a pack of coyotes that spend the summer in a nearby field. I've also seen foxes, opossum, raccoons and skunks, and have heard the occasional fisher cat in my area. Will a multiple strand electric fence strung along the bottom foot or so be enough of a deterrent to keep them out? Not sure what else is roaming around, but I live on a lake, so snakes and various rodents are pretty likely, too.

    Also- I'm thinking about doing the deep litter method through the winter and take advantage of the heat from the composting manure. Will I need to insulate the floor, given that its being built over concrete? Or will a thick layer of pine shavings in the coop be enough to get them through the winter? Should the walls and ceiling be insulated as well? Winter temps average between 20 and 30 degrees here, with a 2 week cold snap in February that sees nights a few degrees below zero.

    That leads me to my next question: Ventilation. Will ridge vents work? Where, exactly, do you put the other vents so its ventilated without being drafty?

    Thoughts??
     
  2. DancingHen

    DancingHen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 11, 2011
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    I will try to answer a few of your questions.... My coop has a concrete floor, as we also used an existing concrete pad. Nothing can dig through the floor, so no need to put wire on the floor. If you build your coop walls in a foot, so as to have a 1 foot edge of concrete on the outside, nothing will dig under the edge. However, it is definately best to make sure your side walls and roof are strong. Hungry determined predators can get through a wall if it isn't strong enough. As for the deep litter method over concrete....I do use the deep litter method myself. My chickens made it through a winter with the litter directly on the concrete, but I discovered that the concrete seeped moisture when it was wet outside, and then got the litter damp from the bottom. So now I have a floating wood floor built 4 inches over the concrete with the litter on that. It has worked flawlessly ever since. I have dry litter in the coop all the time now. For ventilation I have a couple doors and windows that can be open on warm days, plus I put a vent about 6 inches by 12 inches at the top of the north and south facing walls. The north side can be closed in the winter, and both left open the rest of the year. It seems to have worked fine so far.

    Good luck.
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Nope! Not as long as it's entirely on the slab and the slab is basically intact.

    there's a pack of coyotes that spend the summer in a nearby field. I've also seen foxes, opossum, raccoons and skunks, and have heard the occasional fisher cat in my area. Will a multiple strand electric fence strung along the bottom foot or so be enough of a deterrent to keep them out?

    I'd suggest concentrating on building the run fence strong. Ideally use heavy-gauge galvanized 1x1 (or 1x2 cage wire, but while it is often better made than a lot of 1x1, and heavier gauge, weasels *can* get thru it...)

    You can then step back and look at the finished run and decide whether to *also* run a line or two of electric wire around it. Wait and see.

    Do not DEPEND on electric fencing though. Consider it "the cherry on top" of an otherwise-already-predatorproof fence, just to keep critters from excessively TESTING the predatorproofness [​IMG]

    I'm thinking about doing the deep litter method through the winter and take advantage of the heat from the composting manure.

    Be aware that this very, very, very often does not work the way people expect it to. There is no "the" deep litter method, there are a jillion different ways of doing it, and not all situations are appropriate for damp-composting-heat-generating types. Expect to experiment and wait and see what works best for you.

    Will I need to insulate the floor, given that its being built over concrete? Or will a thick layer of pine shavings in the coop be enough to get them through the winter?

    The slab floor will actually help a bit to keep the coop warmer thru the first part of winter. And then, yes, just make sure there are lots of shavings over it. Absolutely not worth insulating, could actually be counterproductive. Although if you are just totally itchin' to insulate SOMETHING you could insulate around the exposed outer edges of the slab, outside of the coop I mean (I wouldn't, tho [​IMG])

    Should the walls and ceiling be insulated as well? Winter temps average between 20 and 30 degrees here, with a 2 week cold snap in February that sees nights a few degrees below zero.

    If you are concerned about cold -- and it sounds like you are, although you don't live anywhere that has *particularly* cold winters -- and are wanting to get heat out of your deep litter, then definitely you would get benefits from insulating, if you happen to feel like it. Well, maybe unless you have a very crowded chicken population (requiring a huge amount of ventilation). Especially as you have that nice big slab floor that will provide lots of warm thermal mass for the first part of the winter. (OTOH if you were planning on designing/operating this as a fresh-air type coop with one side open all winter then insulation would be pointless) But it is not like you HAVE to insulate.

    hat leads me to my next question: Ventilation. Will ridge vents work?

    You can use them as PART of whatcha got (altho I don't like them, I have yet to see livestock buildings with ridge vents that don't let snow sift in during some winter storms, which is fine in a horse barn but not so fine in a coop -- still, some BYCers have them and like them, so, <shrug>. But they would be radically-insufficient as your ONLY vents.

    Where, exactly, do you put the other vents so its ventilated without being drafty?

    See my ventilation page, link in .sig below. Remember there are kind of two things to consider -- ventilation to avoid overheating in summer, and wintertime ventilation to maintain air quality. They have somewhat different demands so you need to build so you can accommodate BOTh type seasons [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  4. joneus

    joneus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 2, 2011
    Ballston Spa
    THANKS!! Right now I've got 9 chicks, but that number will be going down once I figure out how many roosters I've got- so I'm thinking they'll have plenty of floor space as long as I dont succumb to chicken math between now and this fall. [​IMG]

    I need to get the CAD drawing done, but the gist of my plan has evolved to an 8'x5' foot print with a 7'-0" and 5'-6" max roof height, front-to-back. The coop will be oriented so the long/high side is facing south east which happens to get the lake breeze AND maximizes the amount of sun they'll get through the windows in the winter. Per DancingHens suggestion, I'm going to give it a floating floor because my yard tends to be pretty damp. I was sitting on the concrete today and its still wet from the 7 days of rain we had... which ended 4 days ago. It gets full sun in the winter, but once the leaves are on the trees, its full shade until October!

    patandchickens: I read your ventilation page- It all makes good sense! Thank you!!! I suppose my "concern" over the cold is that, being from northern NH, my definition of "cold" is quite different than that of the locals. I've never kept chickens before, so I dont really know what they can tolerate (thanks for covering that in your Ventilation page!!! I'm feeling MUCH less paranoid now, LOL!)
     

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