Coop help please :) -lots of questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by 1stChicky, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. 1stChicky

    1stChicky Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 1, 2013
    This is our first time with chickens...I read in books and on many threads here how fast chickens grow. But WOW I can NOT believe the changes in just one week! Its amazing to me!! Anyway, my husband is building a coop. We were wondering how big does the opening have to be for them to get in/out? How big do nesting boxes have to be? We don't know what kind of chicks we have[​IMG] so we're not sure how big they will get. I was thinking a 12x12 nesting box? Does each chick need their own? For the inside of the coop, what do you guys put down (I've read pine shavings are good)? Can you put a rubber mat underneath it so it's easier to clean/hose down? The coop is going in a big dog run. In the dog run are we supposed to put pine shavings down? Or just let them hang out on the grass? Maybe a little bit of both? Lol I'm sorry for all the questions but we just want to make sure we're doing it right. We want them to have lots of space and be happy. Any other advice is also greatly appreciated :)!!
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    The opening should be about 18" high if there will be a roo, maybe 12" wide. You can make it bigger; sometimes they will go in and out together. 12x12x12 is a pretty standard nest size, but I'd go with a little wider, especially since you're not sure of their adult size. Mine are pretty average sized hatchery large fowl. They have a 12x12 nest which they ignore, and two that are about 12x18 which they mostly use. (I didn't design them that big so much as, that's how a repurposed wooden box divided up easily.) The rule of thumb is one nest for four hens, though they will likely only use one or two of them. My 9 girls almost always lay in one box, though they sometimes change which one that is, and that's quite normal. I use pine shavings and hay on the coop floor, and hay in nests, but it's really a matter of personal choice, and what is available locally that's inexpensive or free. Some people use shredded paper, ground corn husks, rice hulls, etc., etc. Even dried leaves are fine. Mine make a "bowl" in nest box hay, but tend to kick pine shavings out. Yes, a rubber mat is fine. Lots of people use that rubbery shelf liner -- cheap, and easy to clean. Actually if you make rollaway nests, you only use rubber mats.

    They well be very happy on the grass, til they eat it all. At that point you can leave them on dirt or put something down. I wouldn't use pine shavings or anything else that you don't want getting wet, though. Lots of people have good success with sand (any old kind.) It's relatively easy to scoop poop out of, and it drains well. My approach is to let them have a good sized yard (about70x70) in which some weeds grow, and just mow it when the weeds get out of hand (they eat most of the grass.) Of course, a large yard like that is not predator proof.

    Don't apologize for the questions! They've probably all been answered before here, but the search function can be a bit frustrating if you're not adept with it. Even then, you may get a lot of results.
  3. pellepeterson

    pellepeterson Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 3, 2013
    The Woods of Maine
    Same boat here 1st! We are feeding 8 chickies now in a brooder/rabbit pen with the Dog guarding them valiantly. I have hit the cull lumber bin at the local HD and hit the mother load! I have 1 1/2 X 1 1/2 remnants, some 2X3, some 1/2inch ply and more. I have bartered an old shelving unit from work and will set forth on the "Coop de Gras" this weekend I hope. I am planning on letting them run but only while we are out and about in the yard. I will set up some fencing as we go and suffice to say that I am a very good shot if the predators get a little too close for Thor to like...He is an excellent guard dog!

    I will be posting pics of our second hand coop building and wanted to thank you for asking questions I had forgotten about in my design phase.

    Be well and Be safe!
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by