Coop is not working and it's brand new

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by llnmaw, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. llnmaw

    llnmaw Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 22, 2011
    Spokane, WA
    So I need some help. We built the Purina Coop (4x4 i think, off the ground about 2.5ft.?). Due to the area it is put in I'm having trouble getting everything fit in. The coop is in the side yard of our house so it is a narrow-ish area. It always seemed generous sized until we stuck a big square coop smack dab in there! We needed to leave room to get the lawn mower/wheelbarrow through in order to access the front yard so the coop is closer to the house than in the center of the area. Are you already confused??![​IMG]

    The front (the taller end) of the coop is where I want to have the nest box. This faces North just for reference. Just one nest box since we are limited to 4 birds (well technically speaking 3 but who is really gonna read the code??! [​IMG] ). I'd like to fit a trap door, for grabbing the hanging water, next to the nest box. I think that is do-able since the nest box is 12 inches wide and the door need not be much bigger.

    The back of the coop (the low slope) has double doors the full width of the coop with the pop door/ramp in one side of the double doors. That works too I guess, though I'm 5' 10" and it is admittedly a bit uncomfortable to reach in and do much of anything.

    The east side of the coop is close to the house with not much room to access anything. That is where it starts to get tricky. This is where I *would* put a little access door for poop boards (the perch runs front to back along the east side of the coop). It's tricky to get in and out between the coop and the house, let alone thinking I'd want to be in there daily goofing round with a bucket and all. We wanted to put a window on the west side of the coop (nest boxes can't go here because they would jut out and be in the way of passing foot traffic/lawn/yard care equipment) and the window would be too close to the roosts. The whole ventilation vs cool breeze thing has me all worked up!! Ideally the roost would go on the west side of the coop with a little clean out door on that side. that leaves us with putting a window on the east side. As you can imagine it does not let much light in since it is snug up to the house.

    A window seems really important to me. We have generous amounts of snow and enough below freezing days and short days that the girls may choose to stay inside. I think offering some light would be nice. External nest box also seems important to me since I want to maximize floor space..... again...they may stay cooped in the winter and I realize we are kind of maxed out space wise for the number of chickens. We are doing DLM so a poop board seems like a good fit for us. Maybe I have to give this up?

    I've come up with some possible solutions but they all have faults.....

    Run the roost west/east along the back end of the coop with poop board under there. The trouble with this set up is lack of height at the back of the coop. Needing to navigate poop board, roosts and all to reach into the rest of the coop would be trouble. Maybe not enough room for the chickens to navigate the pop door? A narrow window could go on the west side near the front of the coop allowing for light and keeping the path of air not directly on the roost. Another possible solution is to run the roost north/south on the west side of the coop. A window on the North side of the coop, allows some light, but nothing like real sunshine. Issue with this is: pop door is under the roost. Poop board in the way of getting in and out. Give up external nest box and put roost on north side of coop running east/west. Window on the west side near the back of the coop to keep cold air flow off birds. This seems like the best option....but am I risking trouble with 4 birds being (potentially) cooped up winter months in a little less floor space? Give up the idea of a poop board and keep the current set up?

    After all that rambling here is a photo if you are a visual person!
    [​IMG]

    To ease your inevitable and correct (!!) concerns we have since added ventilation on the east/west sides near the top. I'd like to add something over the next box that can be open in summer closed/vented in winter.

    Your experience/knowledge would help me out! I don't want to over think this, but I also want it to be easy to care for the girls.

    ~L.
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Ok, so here's a thought to consider: I am wondering whether you might put a window/vent on the E side of the coop facing the house where it would be pretty well sheltered from wind and totally sheltered from rain. The chickens will not have a "view" but they would have light and it would give you a nicely sheltered area (maximally-far from a W side roost) for your ventilation. Ventilation could be operated from inside the coop. Thus there would be no need to ever go between coop and house, and indeed, you could even put the coop *closer* to the house if you want to give you more space on the pathway side.

    Then, with the roost now on the W side of the coop, you would be more easily able to access a droppings board there, should you wish to install one. It is not clear to me how this would interfere with the popdoor, just put the droppings board above the level of the top of the popdoor, you knw? You would probably have to give the droppings board "legs" on the front side since there is no fixed wall there (just the doors that swing out) but that is super easy to do.

    If you want more window than just a 'blind' E-facing one, it would be really, really easy to put a pane of plexiglass in any of the other 3 walls. Then they could actually see something [​IMG]

    There are lots and lots of other ways to fit out the coop, of course, the above is just what seems functionally-pleasing to me [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  3. llnmaw

    llnmaw Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 22, 2011
    Spokane, WA
    Thanks Pat...your suggestion is the route that seemed most do-able, no wait what did you say....functionally pleasing! [​IMG] I love that phrase!!!

    I'm having trouble with the whole perch set up though. Currently the perch is suspended on one side from the ceiling near the clean out doors and attached to the north facing wall. Trouble with this is that I cannot reach the birds who in theory will one day be perching up there in the back (or to train them to get up on the darn thing!!) I can lean in and reach 2 birds but that is it. I also realized how inadequate my roost space might be. About 3 feet for 4 full sized girls (2 BO, 1 BA, 1 BR) is going to be really tight as they grow. The other issue, or maybe it's not, is that the coop is slightly taller at the north end. I was thinking that the roost needs about 16-18 inches from the ceiling to provide adequate room to fly up there. At the low end of the coop this will force the roost to nearly be sitting on the poop board. Can I raise the roost? I see now why they use the ladder style roost in this coop. Floor space is a real premium for us though so it seems as though I need to figure out a way to make a suspended roost.

    I've been thinking about the set up and thought if I can get the roost on the west side I could make a full size drop down door to access the entire perch area and clean off poop board. Then, inset a stationary plexiglass window into the drop down door. I guess I could even make it removable for the hot summer nights. I'd obviously cover the open area with hardware cloth. I actually really like this idea.....if I can really make the perch/poop board work.

    Further thoughts?

    ~L.
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I think you are up against the basic fact that in order for most of us to reach the back of a 4' deep reach-in coop, you just DO have to lean into the floor portion and get a certain amount of bedding and poo on ya. Feel free to post your experiences in this regard when people start threads about building a deep reach-in coop and some people like me try to convince them that 4' is maximal and 3' is better [​IMG]

    As far as I can see, your useful choices are more or less these:

    -- resign yourself to having to lean waaay in (and wear old clothes) if you have to reach a bird on the back part of the roost

    -- make two parallel shorter roosts, with a droppings board under them, and put food and water either under the droppings board or in wall-built fittings so's to leave the birds enough room to get up and down

    -- make two parallel shorter roosts, and ditch the idea of a droppings board

    -- add another access door to the W side specifically for roost access

    Being basically kind of lazy I would probably go with the first one, myself, but understand that not everyone would [​IMG]

    3' for 4 grown chickens is not *necessarily* as squished as yo may think (as long as they get along well, not something you can predict or influence)... hens often like to mash together at night, especially in cool weather. For instance my front pen of sussexes has about 6' of roost for 6 chickens (one large rooster, four full-sized sussex hens, and a sort of leghorn-sized campine) but they often don't use more than half of it [​IMG] You would not want to FORCE them to cuddle up but it might not be quite the issue you expect. Have to wait and see.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     

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