Coop design questions from a beginner

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by joerbaum, Jun 11, 2010.

  1. joerbaum

    joerbaum New Egg

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    I have read multiple books, postings and websites, and I still have some questions on the basics of coop and run design. Please help me out - I am becoming obsessed with chickens and I don't even have any yet! I am in central Illinois and looking to convert my unused 12x12 shed back near the woods into something that produces eggs and meat.

    1. Floor of coop - I am considering concrete or a plywood floor 1' off the ground. If I do concrete, how thick does it need to be poured? If I do the raised plywood floor, I was looking at putting a slight slope in it and covering it with something (vinyl) to aid in hosing it out when needed.

    2. Coop divisions - My wife has said that she wants absolutely zero chance of a blood spot in her eggs and the eggs we give away. I have agreed to this stipulation (happy wife = more chickens). I had planned on dividing the inside of my coup up (one-third for egg layers, two-thirds for meat birds who will raise their own chicks). They will of course also have separate runs. Is this necessary? Is there any chance I can have them all together and be assured I won't have a blood spot? Is the candle test enough to tell?

    3. Coop insulation - I am trying to decide how much insulation I need for the coop during winter. It gets pretty cold here, and the shed currently is just thin metal walls. Any ideas from other chicken-obsessed people in similar climates?

    4. Run fencing- I keep getting varied opinions on mesh size for the outside run. I have a pretty big run planned - do I go with hardware cloth (what size mesh?) or is poultry wire the best bet?

    5. Run top - I could extend a tin roof off of the shed to roof in part of the run, leaving the remaining run unroofed and just covering in whatever size wire mesh I use. Is there an advantage to having part of the run roofed? I also have a tree (5 inch diameter) where the run will be - I was planning to cut it down, though could I leave the tree, secure the mesh around the trunk, and let the tree be the cover (no roof)?

    Please help me out on any of these questions you are knowledgeable about. I am excited to get going asap, but I can't begin until I know exactly what I am doing so I can present a cost estimate to my wife (she is the dependable one who keeps track of the finances). I know she will become a chicken junkie in the future, but she is currently a bit timid. Thank you for reading and sharing a bit of your experience.
     
  2. Roy

    Roy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] I to am from Central Illinois, outside Bloomington to be exact. I will try to answer some of your questions. I moved into a house that already had a 100 year old chicken house on it, so I added on this summer by building a 10' x 10' addition. it has a wood floor and the entire coop is uninsulated, but, I am try to insulate as I go. I have a large welded wire run, welded wire everywhere because I do not trust chicken wire. I wouldn't worry about sectioning coop, I think that would get old very quickly. I am in the process of covering run to keep the sun off my girls. Others who know more will also help you out, alot of good people here on this site. If you want to stop by and see my setup, give me a shoutout...good luck
     
  3. ondreeuh

    ondreeuh Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 9, 2010
    1) I don't have any info on concrete floors, but if you google "pouring concrete floor" you should be able to research it. We have plywood that will be covered in vinyl. I'm not sure I want to soak it b/c the plywood underneath will get wet, but it's definitely moppable.

    2) "Blood spots" occur when a drop of the hen's blood makes it into the egg. It's not caused by fertilization and not preventable, so separating your flock won't help. Fertilized eggs will show a tiny "bullseye" spot on the yolk for the first couple of days, and if you fetch your eggs daily you will catch them before they develop, in which case they can be treated like unfertilized eggs.

    3) With metal walls I'd be inclined to insulate, because I could see the heat transferring right out of the building.

    4) Poultry mesh (chicken wire) is not suitable for a run. I am using 2x4 welded wire with 1/2" hardware cloth on the bottom 2 feet.

    5) I live in a rainy climate so I am roofing my entire run. If you can secure the wire roof to your tree with no gaps, I think it would be lovely to have the natural shade of the tree. If there are low branches the chickens can roost in, even better! I would staple the wire to the trunk, though.

    Hope that helps!
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:This is an *existing* shed, with I guess a dirt floor? Honestly, what if you just level the floor (raise it if necessary to avoid floodwaters) and then plonk a bunch of 2x2 concrete pavers on it? That is the simplest solution, and will work pretty well.

    If you did want to pour a concrete slab, you'd want it thick enough to avoid cracking and breaking up -- I wouldn't go less than 2-3" and if you have reservations about the stability of the soil it's on you should add reinforcing mesh so that at least it stays relatively in one piece if it cracks and heaves.

    I would not at all suggest building a raised wooden floor inside an existing shed; it will just become home for a huge population of rodents and other unsavory characters. And a 12x12 shed is too big to be an appealing candidate for raising the whole *thing* up off the ground.

    2. Coop divisions - My wife has said that she wants absolutely zero chance of a blood spot in her eggs and the eggs we give away.

    Blood spots have nothing to do with a rooster. They are a result of the ovary shedding a little bit of tissue during ovulation, which then gets encapsulated into the egg.

    If you DO have a rooster in with the hens, then provided you collect eggs daily and store them cool, there is zero chance of getting a developing embryo. Indeed, it requires sharp eyes and *training* to learn to recognize fertile eggs that have not been allowed to develop -- go look at the "fertile vs infertile eggs" stickied thread at the top of the Incubating and Hatching Eggs section of the BYC forum, you will see how near-invisible the difference is.

    Thus, your wife's 'solution' to her concern is totally unfounded. There is zero relationship between whether there is a rooster in with the hens and whether odd spots may appear inside the eggs. Keeping roo separate will not prevent blood spots. If they freak her out, you can candle the eggs first with a very powerful flashlight, but that is the only way to avoid them.

    I had planned on dividing the inside of my coup up (one-third for egg layers, two-thirds for meat birds who will raise their own chicks). They will of course also have separate runs. Is this necessary? Is there any chance I can have them all together and be assured I won't have a blood spot? Is the candle test enough to tell?

    When you say "meat birds", what do you mean? Commercial type broilers -- CornishX, "Rock Cornish", whatever you want to call them -- can't really be raised along with layers. They need their own separate accommodations, for a whole variety of reasons. Truly.

    If OTOH you want to raise a "normal" breed of chickens for meat, such as Rocks or Wyandottes or whatever, you can certainly keep them in with your layers, indeed many of them will BE your layers for a while [​IMG] Do recognize however that what they produce will be a LOT different than the chicken you're accustomed to fromt he supermarket. "real" chickens (as opposed to commercial meaties, CornishX) have far smaller breasts, far less meat total, the meat is not all soft and mushy, and they eat a lot more feed to produce X amount of meat. OTOH the meat is much tastier [​IMG]

    3. Coop insulation - I am trying to decide how much insulation I need for the coop during winter. It gets pretty cold here, and the shed currently is just thin metal walls. Any ideas from other chicken-obsessed people in similar climates?

    If it gets towards freezing, and your walls are just metal, you need insulation, to avoid condensation (and thus humidity, and thus frostbite) if nothing else. The insulation needs to be covered at "chicken level" so they can't eat it, which they otherwise will. The underside of a metal roof also needs to be insulated.

    Your shed will also need a LOT more ventilation installed, unless it is extremely unusual among storage/workshop type sheds. Chickens really need a LOT of ventilation, even in the wintertime. If you ahven't already seen it, I would suggest a peek at my ventilation page (link in .sig below) for more on the subject.

    4. Run fencing- I keep getting varied opinions on mesh size for the outside run. I have a pretty big run planned - do I go with hardware cloth (what size mesh?) or is poultry wire the best bet?

    DO NOT USE poultry wire (chickenwire) unless you don't especially mind losing your chickens. Loose dogs and raccoons and most other decent-sized predators can rip right through it. The fact that some people have had chickens in chickenwire for umpty years and never lost anything only means that they were lucky enough that nothing has TRIED to get in -- yet. Check out the Predators and Pests section of the BYC forum and see what can happen.

    Hardwarecloth is fine if you can afford it; but good-quality correctly-installed chainlink, or livestock-type 2x4 wire mesh or heavy gauge 1x2 or 1x1 wire mesh is good too, with the addition of something smaller-mesh (such as hardwarecloth) along the bottom 2-3' or so to prevent reach-through.

    Remember you need to digproof the run; IMO the best solution is an apron rather than buried wire.

    5. Run top - I could extend a tin roof off of the shed to roof in part of the run, leaving the remaining run unroofed and just covering in whatever size wire mesh I use. Is there an advantage to having part of the run roofed? I also have a tree (5 inch diameter) where the run will be - I was planning to cut it down, though could I leave the tree, secure the mesh around the trunk, and let the tree be the cover (no roof)?

    It is definitely great to have some roofed area in your run, if you can manage it.

    As for the rest, remember that a wire top needs to be supported almost as strongly as a roof does in terms of rafters etc... you WILL get raccoons dancin' around up there, and wet snow WILL build up there and has flattened many, many peoples' wire-topped runs.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  5. Jaguaress

    Jaguaress Chicken Addict Wanna-be

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    1. I don't know the answer to how thick it should be poured; sorry. [​IMG]

    2. If they're not separated, they will most likely inter-breed, which sounds like something you might want to prevent, based on your listed goals. Is the candle test enough to tell? Someone else will have to answer this part. [​IMG]

    3. Hopefully, someone can answer this for you. Also look at the coops listed at the link at the top of the page, if you haven't. There are plenty great ones there.

    4. From reading the posts here, hardware cloth in 1/2"x1/2" or 1/4"x1/4" is best. Poultry wire is only for keeping chickens in - not predators out - and many predators can either chew through it or kill chickens through it. You'll also want to consider using an electric fence around the perimeter of your run and coop; at least two strands at different heights, if not more. Don't forget to either bury the fencing a foot down, or place an apron out two feet from the run.

    5. If you get snow, having part of the run roofed, or tarped, or otherwise covered allows your birds to be in the run in inclement weather. This is a good thing, imo. You might still want at least a partial covering even if you do keep the tree there. Be advised that it can be difficult to properly secure wire fencing horizontally around a tree in a secure enough way to deter predators. So make sure that you get a tree ring to attach it to, or "sew" it together well with wire all around it. You'll have to adjust it as the tree grows. In my experience, it can be better to move the run to be beside the tree, rather than trying to build the run around it.

    It sounds like you're making good plans. Good luck with your build. [​IMG]
     
  6. joerbaum

    joerbaum New Egg

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    Jun 11, 2010
    Thanks for the info - I'll take the suggestions. There are a lot of basic facts I don't know - but I am looking forward to figuring it out.
     
  7. CarriageStone

    CarriageStone Out Of The Brooder

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    The slab should be 3" thick and be poured over a 4" thick bed of clean stone that's been compacted. If you want to heat the coop, run 2" of rigid foam insulation under the slab. This should be run all the way around the slab 24" wide from the outer edge of the slab into the coop.

    Hope this helps.

    Don

    www.CarriageStone.com
     
  8. Laurajean

    Laurajean Slightly Touched

    Apr 2, 2010
    New Hampshire
    Quote:Hate to break this to your wife, but let her know that blood spots happen in eggs that aren't even fertilized. A blood spot is not an indication of a fertilized egg and can appear in eggs that have never seen a rooster.

    And: [​IMG]
     
  9. Robertbrown

    Robertbrown Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 6, 2010
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    1. Floor of coop - I am considering concrete or a plywood floor 1' off the ground. If I do concrete, how thick does it need to be poured? If I do the raised plywood floor, I was looking at putting a slight slope in it and covering it with something (vinyl) to aid in hosing it out when needed.

    Perhaps future considerations may inflece your decision for this. Concrete is dificult to remove if you ever decide the shed should come down. A concrete floor might be handy if you ever decide to use the shed for a shed again and you want to park a small car or tractor in it.
    I would say if you are going to pour a floor, pour it thick enough to handle the car or tractor. You never know, you may find this shed is too small and build a larger chicken house one day.
    Best of luck
    RB
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2010

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