Coop-less?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by crc310, Jul 31, 2014.

  1. crc310

    crc310 Songster

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    I'm newish at chickens. I have been doing research for 2 yrs but adopted five 16 months ago and 2 more a few weeks ago. I live in SE MI so we get into the negatives during the winter. This past winter was harsh to say the least! -30•F! Windchill was worse:( since mid summer last year my chickens have not used the coop to sleep in. They perch on top and on the roosts outside the coop in the covered pen (predator proofed). It is only used to lay eggs and eat from. I have RIR, BSL, EE, Wyandotte, and BR hens and a giant RIR roo:) The coop is only a 4x4 dog house (converted), only suitable for 4... During the winter, I put them in the coop at night. After a month, I finally gave up and made a small pen in the garage where they stayed for a few weeks during the worst part of last winter (only had 5 this winter, just adopted 2 more). I did not have a heat source in the coop or pen outside. These are pets and not food. They are free range during the daylight hours. The pen they sleep in is 16'x8' dog run. I used branches for roosts. Pic is from when I first set it up (now it's fully coon/coyote proof). During the winter it had tarps, plastic, and plenty of hay. Just added 8" deep sand. I was planning on adding a heat light near the roosting areas this winter. They are only in the pen at night. Should I still make a larger coop to accommodate the new hens? Thoughts? [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
  2. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Crowing

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    Should you make a larger coop? ABSOLUTELY! The little coop you have at present (BTW, it is cute!) could only accommodate at the most 3-4 birds. As you have large breeds plus a rooster it's no wonder they don't want to use it...waaaay too tight of quarters. So for 7 birds I would think your coop alone should be a minimum of 40-50 square feet. As you live in snow country as I do, ventilation is super important! I mean think about it...all those birds in the coop during sub-zero temps outside and the heat their bodies produce will make for very damp and virtually miserable surroundings plus illnesses that come from it. If you do decide to expand your coop be sure to post pics...we'd love to see them!
     
  3. Angiebubs

    Angiebubs Songster

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    Amery, WI WI/MN border
    HI there! I live in the midwest as well-this past winter WAS harsh!! Just one word of advice, I would not add a heat lamp for a couple reasons. First, every winter I hear of multiple fires from heat lamps that people were positive they have fastened so they could never touch anything, They end up with burned down coops or worse. Do you keep the run shoveled out? Do they go out in the run in the winter? If so you might be able to get by with what you currently have if you tarp the run. If you have the ability to make a larger coop they would be happier. Chickens suffer more from heat than they do the cold, as their internal body temperature is higher than ours. Plus the body heat put out inside the coop keeps the coop warmer too. Good luck!

    ETA: Sorry just read that you have a total of 7 and 1 is a Roo. I would say you would to add at least double the space you have now. Min is 4 sq ft per bird and thats if they can get out and about during the day.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
  4. crc310

    crc310 Songster

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    Thanks for the input:) They only stay in the pen at night. Last summer, one hen decided to sleep under the stars, then 2 joined her the next night. A few nights later 4 were out. The following evening, all 5 were sleeping outside even in the rain;) It is fully tarped during the winter so no snow gets in the pen and I shovel a walkway to the garage and around the pen to get frozen greens. I was thinking about putting the heat lamp in the pen not the coop. I check them 2-3 times a day regardless of the temps (heated waterer in winter) and would make sure the lamp is dusted and very thoroughly attached. I have many fears and that's why I hadn't used a heat lamp in the past. The roo only got very mild frost bite on him comb since I kept them in the garage during the wickedly cold weeks (stayed about 30•F in our attached garage). I don't want to do that again.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
  5. crc310

    crc310 Songster

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    Isaiah! <3
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Angiebubs

    Angiebubs Songster

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    Amery, WI WI/MN border
    An alternative to using a heat lamp is a ceramic tile heater. I got one of these from santa last year and turned it on when we have a month of -20. It allowed just enough warmth if they needed to go stand by it. Although the only one i saw ever by it was one polish hen. And ceramic tile heaters are completely safe.
     
  7. crc310

    crc310 Songster

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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG] I even made them all fleece capes (and a vest for a hen that molted mid-winter). These pics were taken early in the winter. I kept adding layers of tarps! Lol
     
  8. crc310

    crc310 Songster

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    I've seen the ceramic heat bulbs that screw into heat lamp it sweeter heater? Is that the same as one of those?
     
  9. B-Goock

    B-Goock Chirping

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    The only heat I put in my coop was a 60 watt bulb in my home made waterer heater and another 60 watt bulb on a timer for light during daytime hours. I did wrap up some of the run like yours. Sure makes it ugly doesn't it. Mine had an old sleeping bag under the tarp, a piece of OSB on the north side, and an old blanket. [​IMG] We only saw temps down to around zero here. Going to look up some new heat sources though since larger watt incandescent lights are being phased out.

    On the coop size I would say build a coop (probably doubled size) right outside the run so you give them more run area and chickens will roost in the highest roost in their "house". For your chickens the run is their house as well thats why they sit out there in the rain. Make the highest roost inside the coop and they will go there. My roost is two 2x4's about 5' long and I have 16 chickens. Last year I only had 8 chickens and they still chose to only sit on one of the 5' long roosts. Both roosts are at the exact same height. The new gals use the other roost and the old gals use the preferred roost.
     
  10. crc310

    crc310 Songster

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    Lol! Ugly, for sure! My husband was NOT happy about the way it looked. I used what we had available in the garage. I need to find a cheap shed to attach to it;) I have drawings but haven't got the correct tools or building know how to build one. We can't afford to hire someone to make one or buy new... :(
     

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