Coop Design Questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ChopperLinc, Jun 7, 2011.

  1. ChopperLinc

    ChopperLinc Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 3, 2011
    Taylorsville, UT
    So, I've designed a coop and built the frame and would like to get feedback on a few things if possible:

    1. Any thoughts about the general design?
    2. I live in Utah and it gets fairly cold here in the winter. Snow for several months. Do I need a heat lamp, or will they be OK in an insulated structure?
    3. What to use in the coop for bedding/nesting material? Can sand work on a solid floor, or do I need to put hardware cloth with sand on top? If so, is that OK for the climate?
    4. I bought poultry netting thinking it would work, but am now wondering if I should switch to hardware cloth. (I live in a very urban area. Never seen a raccoon, but have smelled skunks.)
    5. What do I incorporate into the design to control rodents?
    6. I planned to put the roosts on the back wall. Any thoughts about design for those? Just a couple horizontal 2x4s?

    I'm building the whole thing out of free or used, low-cost lumber. So far I've spent $125 on hardware and high quality used 1/2" plywood.

    The side walls both come off for easy cleaning (hopefully), and the door for the massive insulated nesting box will be hinged on the bottom so it opens like a toaster over. Easy access for egg-collecting children!

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Lincoln

    [​IMG]
     
  2. bryan99705

    bryan99705 Chillin' With My Peeps

    The design is a really great and as it can be insulated and openings can be covered with hardware cloth and the panels removed for plenty of summer ventilation. Don't base your coop requirements on wind chill - ambient temp only (wind chill only applies to unprotected skin) A heatlamp would be all you need on nights when you're feeling guilty.

    The exit thru the floor is a great idea because chickens love to go out in the winter too and this gives them access to scratch under the coop, dust bath and be out of the deep snow. Might even consider extending a roof around the base of the coop for more winter range room

    Having the roost with windows will allow winter sun to heat the coop but remember you must have winter draft free ventilation for the ammonia fumes and the large amount of moisture the birds generate.

    Remember to seal the floor or cover with a floor covering like vinyl to prevent moisture and poo from soaking in. Painting the coop inside helps clean up and light colors on the outside will help keep it cooler in the summer. Birds withstand cold much better than hot!

    Using hardware cloth is the way to go as you just haven't seen the coons yet plus it will stop mice and snakes. Raising the coop off the ground and maybe wrapping each leg with sheetmetal will help stop mice and other critter from climbing up and trying to chew thru the floor also don't forget to wire the eaves too.

    Roosts are required as are the poop tray under them (maybe make the poop tray a shallow drawer that opens to the outside?) I use saplings or branches fo roosts but a 2x4 does work. Don't go too tall, your heavy birds risk injury from jumping down. But the roost needs to be higher than the nest boxes. Spring loaded hinges on the nestbox access panel may make it easier for the kids to access eggs.

    What's youyr water & feeder plans? Would suggest setting waterer on a litter pan or old metal oil drain pan to catch spillage so the floor and litter stay dry and look into a heated water fount as birds need water at all times.
     
  3. ChopperLinc

    ChopperLinc Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 3, 2011
    Taylorsville, UT
    Thank you for the comprehensive reply!

    I will try to incorporate as much as I can.

    I was in North Pole Alaska almost two years ago! You guys are brave if you try to raise chickens up there! it's too bad you just can't plug them in at night like your car!

    Thanks again,



    Lincoln
     
  4. bryan99705

    bryan99705 Chillin' With My Peeps

    We start in spring before break up and butcher once the snow birds leave in early winter cause birds don't like to be plugged in [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2011
  5. ChopperLinc

    ChopperLinc Out Of The Brooder

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    Taylorsville, UT
    Quote:You still planning on trying to keep the Leghorn through the winter?
     
  6. CarolynF

    CarolynF Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    Hi, nice illustration! What dimensions are you working with for the coop?
    I just finished mine and got a lot of good input from people here, especially regarding making it predator proof. I have to say that we tweaked our ideas as we went along and found that looking a the actual structure made us think differently about our choices. You can see what we did on my BYC page. But here are some of the things I liked, or would do differently.... (by the way our climate is moderate without the extreme hot & cold that you get)

    1. Drop down door for easy cleaning: I would rather have a 2-door arrangement that opens like french doors, i.e. hinged on the sides. It would be easier to open and close plus I'd be able to open just half.

    2. Pop Door: We love having the pop door open via a rope from the outside of the coop & run. Not sure how to do it when the hole is in the floor, but I'll bet someone else has done it.

    3. Dirt: Prepare the soil for the entire coop and run before starting construction on anything else! This is my BIGGEST "wish I'd done it different"! I ended up shoveling dirt in & out of that entire area at least 3 times. And I did it again yesterday when we put sand in! Some of the reasons were 1) Wanted to minimize wood/soil contact 2) Wanted soil to have a slight incline to assure water would run away from the run. 3) Decided we should put wire under the run in case predators (dogs, coons, skunks) dig under the fence. 4) Decided to put some bricks under the wood where there was wood/soil contact. 5) After deciding to use sand, I had to dig out some of the dirt to lower the soil level. It was all great exercise, but I really didn't like doing it! Thank goodness it was a small area.

    4. Wood/soil contact: I wish we didn't have untreated wood in contact with the soil because it will rot out sooner than I'd like. We didn't want to use treated lumber for fear the chickens would peck & ingest it.

    I'd suggest giving serious thought to using watering nipples rather than fountains. The water will stay cleaner, you don't have to fill and clean the water reservoir as often so you can take trip, and it will probably cost less. There are several ways to keep the water from freezing - it's discussed in several threads here on BYC. I'm putting mine together today and/or tomorrow. I'm using a 5 gallon bucket, 3/4" pvc pipe and nipples from QC Supply. I hope to post pictures and notes on my page.


    Oh... you're right about poultry netting. As so many people here keep saying, "It will keep your chickens in, but will NOT keep predators out!" There are way too many sad stories about dogs, coons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, etc. killing people's cherished chickens to skimp on their protection. When you consider the impact on your kids, the cost of repairs, and the cost of replacing your hens it just doesn't make good sense. And don't forget our flying predators... we have eagles and hawks and they both love chickens.

    You didn't mention how far from the wall your perch will be. I think it needs to be about 18", but check that out. I put mine diagonally to maximize the usable space. And it's removable for ease of cleaning.

    I'm not using a pan under the perch. I do a quick clean-up every morning (takes 2 min. max.) since I can reach in easily with a garden trowel. I started with straw in the coop but I've switched to sand. The straw worked nicely but I think the sand will be better in the long run.

    Consider the egg-collection door in relation to the size of your kids. Can one child open it easily without dropping it due to it's weight? Can they move out of the way as it opens towards them? Those are some of the issues I have with my big, bottom hinged door. It's quite clumsy. If it all works for you with the bottom hinge, be sure to put a board across the bottom front to keep the bedding and the eggs from falling out. [​IMG]

    Good Luck and have fun!
    CarolynF
     
  7. ChopperLinc

    ChopperLinc Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 3, 2011
    Taylorsville, UT
    Thanks so much Carolyn!

    I appreciate all your feedback.

    Lincoln
     
  8. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    Most of everything everyone else said x2 VBG. Here's my thoughts an .02Cents.

    1. Any thoughts about the general design?
    Me: Incorporate vents under the eves to allow humid air out You can do a sliding cover for those very cold days but you wont need them.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    This is the definitive article on ventilation. Patandchickens is in Onterio Canada and she knows cold. Peek at her other articles.


    2. I live in Utah and it gets fairly cold here in the winter. Snow for several months. Do I need a heat lamp, or will they be OK in an insulated structure?
    me: I would provide electrical connection for one just in case but you probably wouldnt need it. Chickens themselves put off alot of BTUs.

    3. What to use in the coop for bedding/nesting material? Can sand work on a solid floor, or do I need to put hardware cloth with sand on top? If so, is that OK for the climate?
    me: I like sand its free and easy to manage. You might need to put up a lip around openings to keep it in. But in such a small coop you could just put in poop trays or Boot trays. Slip them out dump them and slip them back in. I have also seen some thing very ingenious lately which is called a Poop Hammock. Couple of bars hung below the roost with shade cloth hung between. The shade cloth allows the poo to dry.

    http://bendhens.tumblr.com/post/5362041546/clean-keeping-of-the-coop

    Look down towards the bottom of the blog.

    The nest boxes are a different matter I like shavings. The chickens don't sleep in the nest boxes so you wont see much poo in there.


    4. I bought poultry netting thinking it would work, but am now wondering if I should switch to hardware cloth. (I live in a very urban area. Never seen a raccoon, but have smelled skunks.)
    me: once you have chickens they will come. Racoons roam at night most people don't see them.

    5. What do I incorporate into the design to control rodents?
    me: hardware cloth works for all the predators.

    6. I planned to put the roosts on the back wall. Any thoughts about design for those? Just a couple horizontal 2x4s?
    me: give them about a foot from the wall so they can choose which direction to face.

    Happy building.....
     
  9. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    OH and .... [​IMG] to the newbies..... [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  10. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    My Coop
    [​IMG]
    Chickens can stand the cold as long as there are no drafts.

    [​IMG]
     

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