Coop design for newbie

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by hebintn, May 16, 2008.

  1. hebintn

    hebintn New Egg

    May 16, 2008
    Hi folks,

    I'm new to BYC forum and except for having some chickens in the family when I was 4 years old, I'm new to chickens. We decided to try chickens on our 20 acre wooded home in East Tennessee. We bought 6 chicks at TSC along with food, watering and food dishes. We're really enjoying watching them grow and develop their personalities. At first we kept them in our greenhouse in a 3x5 dog kennel 24-7. They are now 9 weeks old and on dry days we put them in a 6x12x6 chain link dog kennel during the day then back into the small one for bedtime. I think we have 3 roosters and 3 hens although one of the hens is white with feathers instead of a top comb and we haven't see it crow yet. These kids are primarily pets (never eaten), but I hope we can get a few eggs from them to help offset the food costs. We hope to allow them to free range during the day and lock them in safety of the coop at night. The day is approaching when we open the chick yard for the first time. Kinda scary.... We're hoping they will have learned where home is an stay close, but go into the woods to forage.

    I've built a 3x6x4 coop with a hinged top and 3 nesting boxes. The coop will be inside the chain link kennel which will hopefully be open during the daytimeand close to keep out preditors at night. My question is about flooring for the coop. Somewhere I've read that a wire mesh floor is good so that waste can fall through to the ground rather than contaminate the inside of the coop. Is this a good thing to do? Do I have to have a solid floor in the winter? Should I just put a solid floor to start and deal with frequent cleaning (ugh)? Ideally with the mesh floor I'd just rake out the poop every week or so and put it in the compost pile or direcly into the garden. Night time temps here can get into the 20s so it seems trying to heat this coop if it has a screen would be a futile effort. What low temps can chickens tolerate? Not too worried about high temps since the coop will have pretty good ventilation and will be shaded.

    I'll post some pix when the coop is finished - if I can figure out how. Also want to put some pix out to see if you folks can identify our chicks. Thanks in advance for your advice.

    Harry and Susan
  2. wynedot55

    wynedot55 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2007
    if your coop is on the ground a dirt floor works best.but if your coop is raised then a hardware clothe floor will allow the mess to fall to the ground.then you can use a hoe to clean out from under the coop.
  3. Peeps

    Peeps Out Of The Brooder

    May 12, 2008
    Grown chickens can handle freezing temps better than high heat temps. Mine love the snow. I don't have any heat in their coop and I don't close the windows in the winter. It gets so cold their water freezes, so I put a heat lamp over the waterer, but the chickens don't need heat, they make their own.
  4. hebintn

    hebintn New Egg

    May 16, 2008
    Thanks peeps and obsessed. I was looking for some 1x1 inch hardware cloth, but all I can find locally is 1/2 inch. Lowes has some 1x2 welded wire, but I wonder if they would slip through the 2 inch direction. Seems like the 1/2 inch hardware cloth would catch a lot of the feces. So, I guess that's what I'll use. I'd planned to make three removable sections with treated lumber as a frame so I can take them out and hose them off. Is this over-kill? Glad to hear the birds can take winter temps. I could put a heat lamp over the waterer. I guess the main thing for the chicks is to keep them dry. (Off topic, but do you know if chicken manure can go directly into the garden or does it need to be composted?)

  5. swampducks

    swampducks Overrun With Guineas

    Feb 29, 2008
    Barton City, MI
    From what I've been reading here you wouldn't want mesh larger than 1/2 inch anyway to keep predators like snakes and those skinny furry critters out, the name eludes me!!!!

    I hope you can post pics of your coop soon, (don't wait till it's done, we like progress photos!) because I'm getting 6 barred rocks next Wednesday and my husband was under the impression he had till the fall to build the coop!!!!! At the moment he isn't in the mood to build the big one I really want, so I'm looking for ideas!

    Do you have any idea what kind of chicks you got?
  6. CarlaRiggs

    CarlaRiggs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Instead of a mesh floor, have you considered a shallow pan under the chicken's roost? During the night while asleep, the chickens will 'gift' you with most of the fertilizer. If you have a wooden shelf that is accessible from the outside, it will be easy to clean everyday. Many people here have linoleum on the shelf, also. This way the rest of the coop is relatively clean.
    If you have three hens, you probably only need one nest box. They will all crowd into one; remove the other two and give them a little more floor space.
    The hardware cloth sometimes will cause damage to the birds' feet, especially as they jump down from their roost. And a wooden floor will hold lots of pine shavings or other litter. No drafts during the winter, either.

  7. Dawn419

    Dawn419 Lost in the Woods

    Apr 16, 2007
    Evening Shade, AR
    Hi and Welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    (Off topic, but do you know if chicken manure can go directly into the garden or does it need to be composted?)

    It needs to be composted before being added to the garden as the nitrogen in ther poop will burn the plants.

    If you don't have room for a compost pile, you could dig it into the walkways and it "shouldn't" harm the plants.

  8. hebintn

    hebintn New Egg

    May 16, 2008
    I bought the 1/2 hardware cloth yesterday. I'm going to put in 3 removable panels. That way if it gets too cold for the chix I can take out the wire panels and replace with solid. We're in Tennessee so the winters, especially lately, have been mild. I'm about finished with the coop. I haven't figured out how to add a picture to the post. Soon as I do I'll post some pix. I'm sure it's easy, but it sure ain't obvious.

    The coop will be inside a 6x12 dog kennel. While construction is going on the kennel isn't covered, but yesterday one of the roos flew the coop. Don't want to cover it while work is on going. Don't want to clip their wings since we want them to freerange during the daytime. We have coons, and skunk in the area so we'll have to do some nightime protection.

    Thanks for the input so far.

  9. swampducks

    swampducks Overrun With Guineas

    Feb 29, 2008
    Barton City, MI
    To add a photo you need to store them on a site like photobucket or flickr, etc then provide a link. if you then use the IMG tag provided up above the smilies, the actual photo will appear, rather than ppl having to follow the link.

    I have both flickr and photobucket but prefer the bucket myself. I know there are other sites out there, too.
  10. GranHabano

    GranHabano Out Of The Brooder

    May 18, 2008
    Morristown, TN
    Harry and Susan,

    I'm in East Tennessee as well, Morristown, specifically. I'm in the process of finalizing plans to start building our coop and am excited to get going. My wife is skeptical, but am sure she will be won over quickly. I'm going to keep an eye on this topic, cause the advice that is particular to E.TN will be of special interest.

    But for now, I'll ask a few specific questions...

    I read somewhere else in the forum that a sand floor is maintenance free. Is this true? How can it be?

    Any need for concern on direction for doors and windows? i.e. north, south, east, west.

    I'm planning on starting with a small (flock? gaggle? school? swarm?) of about 3-4. I have plenty of space on our farm, and will build a coop to house up to 20 chickens; should I bite the bullet and get more?



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