Coop Questions ... hmmm ... where do I start ...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Julie_in_PA, May 16, 2008.

  1. Julie_in_PA

    Julie_in_PA Out Of The Brooder

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    May 15, 2008
    Southern PA
    Ok, well being that I'm new to having chickens ... and we're getting 75 - well actually 78 peeps on June 18th ... We need to start planning and building our chicken coop soon.

    We have a brooder ready for the peeps - so we do have some time to work on a coop since they will be in the brooder for a little while. But we still need to get planning. So ... I looked at the thread with all the creative chicken coops pictured .... lots of creative people !!!
    But I do still have a few questions ~

    1. If I have nice nest boxes setup for my hens - will they use them naturally - or will they just lay eggs wherever they please - in the area they have access to ?

    2. This might seem like a dumb question ... but when do hens lay their eggs ? Do they lay at night ? Or just anytime ?

    3. If I have a closeable coop ... but let my chickens out during the day free range, and then just stick them back in the coop before dark - will they only lay their eggs in the coop/nesting boxes ... or will they lay them "everywhere" while they're free range during the day ? (I guess this question kinda goes along with question #2)

    4. If I allow my chickens to be free range during the day - do I still need to have "perches" in the coop ... if they'll only be in there at night ?

    5. Does the coop need to be vented ? (like cow barns and horse barns need vented)

    6. Does the coop need to have windows/natural light inside ? Or can it just be completely closed in (dark) ... as long as I let they chickens outside during the day ?

    7. Can the nesting boxes be very high off the ground ? I mean - how do the chickens get up into them if they are high - especially if their wings are clipped ? (I know this sounds like a dumb question ... but I need to learn the answers somehow [​IMG] )

    Well, I think that's enough questions for now ... lol ... but I'm sure I'll think of more as time goes by.
     
  2. BowChickaBowMow

    BowChickaBowMow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 16, 2008
    Northern Michigan
    Hi Julie! I'm a new chicken mom.. though I wasn't as daring as you... I started out w/ 10... and will add more next Spring.

    I can't answer all you questions.. but will try with some.
    BTW.... go to the Learning Center (should be a link above on yor screen somewhere) to learn alot!!!

    1. Some people on here put fake eggs (wood, or even gulfballs) in the nexts to teach their girls where to lay.

    2. From what I've read, they lay anytime. (not just mornings like I thought)

    3. I don't know!

    4. Yes, as they get older, they'll sleep on "perches" or "roosts". You don't want them sleeping in the nests because they'll poo all over in them and make a mess, and then when they lay eggs, they'll be messy too.

    5. I dont know!

    6. I'm sure they'll be fine w/out windows during the nights.. but you need to think about winter time as well. In PA, I'm sure it gets pretty cold there, plus days are shorter. Not sure if the chicks will be outside all day in the winters. Someone more experienced will need to asnwer this one!

    7. look through photos of different coop designs, and you can see how differently people do the nests. I've seen ladders leading up to higher ones. But they don't need to be too high.

    Don;'t forget to browse around the forum in other areas, and check out photos.. I learned alot doing that. Best of luck!
     
  3. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    1. If I have nice nest boxes setup for my hens - will they use them naturally - or will they just lay eggs wherever they please - in the area they have access to ?

    2. This might seem like a dumb question ... but when do hens lay their eggs ? Do they lay at night ? Or just anytime ?

    3. If I have a closeable coop ... but let my chickens out during the day free range, and then just stick them back in the coop before dark - will they only lay their eggs in the coop/nesting boxes ... or will they lay them "everywhere" while they're free range during the day ? (I guess this question kinda goes along with question #2)

    4. If I allow my chickens to be free range during the day - do I still need to have "perches" in the coop ... if they'll only be in there at night ?

    5. Does the coop need to be vented ? (like cow barns and horse barns need vented)

    6. Does the coop need to have windows/natural light inside ? Or can it just be completely closed in (dark) ... as long as I let they chickens outside during the day ?

    7. Can the nesting boxes be very high off the ground ? I mean - how do the chickens get up into them if they are high - especially if their wings are clipped ? (I know this sounds like a dumb question ... but I need to learn the answers somehow )

    Well, I think that's enough questions for now ... lol ... but I'm sure I'll think of more as time goes by.

    1. Free rangers love to lay eggs wherever their quirky butts feel like it. You can try to train them to lay in the nest (this doesn't work 100% of the time), you can keep them in the coop until the afternoon and then freerange (most will have layed by then, but some occasionally lay later), or you can eliminate favorite and likely looking nesting places (under buildings, in outbuildings, in old washtubs...you get the picture!

    2. They don't lay at night but usually will lay from early morning up until around 3-4 pm.

    3. See #1.

    4. Definitely need perches! Chickens feel safer when off the floor and on something high at night. My hens have clipped wings and can still loft 4-5 ft. when they want to. Most folks have their perches arranged in stairstep formation to provide easy access.

    5. It is necessary to have good ventilation due to feces buildup and the resulting smell, moisture, etc. Also good to have good airflow for hot weather, and to help eliminate growth of bacterias, fungi, etc. Chickens can develop respiratory problems pretty easily under stuffy, airless conditions.

    6. If you are wanting layers, the more light the better. In the winter especially, when hens may not able to go out as frequently. Egg production will drop off during winter months due to shorter days and a lot of folks will supplement by keeping a light on in the coop. Also...YOU go outside during the day but, can you imagine a house with no windows?? How depressing!

    7. Anywhere from floor level to approx. 3-4 ft. off the ground is still accessible for hens with clipped wings. Most of my hens prefer the boxes 2 ft. off the ground, as opposed to the higher nests. They like dark nest boxes with a cozy feel.

    Keep in mind that there are exceptions to every rule, especially with chickens!

    You are getting 78 chickens in June???? You are going to need a fairly good sized coop and you don't have much time....do you have plans as to what size of coop you will have??? I think you will enjoy this ride!!! [​IMG] Good luck!!​
     
  4. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

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    Douglasville GA
    Make sure your nest boxes are lower than your roosts, or they will roost and poop in the nest boxes.
     
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I have some teenagers who haven't mastered the roost yet, though they have several levels from which to choose. THEY are roosting in my nest boxes! :thun I have to remember to fold up the perches in front of the boxes each night and unfold them in the morning or I get nests full of poop! My eggs used to be soooo clean! They will roost on the floor if I close off the nest boxes.....1 ft. away from the lowest (8 in. off the floor) rung on the roosts. Dumb chickens! [​IMG]
     
  6. HeatherInBama

    HeatherInBama Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 19, 2007
    North Alabama
    Hi Julie!!

    You've already gotten some good advice, so I'll just put my 2 cents in. [​IMG]

    as far as laying where you want them to, most chickens want a cozy spot with fresh hay they can move around. if their range area has anything they can get under or hide behind, chances are you'll find a few eggs there.

    as far as coop design, I think the biggest factor is what you need for your area. If you have weather issues, I suggest building a coop big enough for everybody to be comfortable if they cant go outside for a few days due to weather. Predators are a factor for me, so all my girls get locked up at nite. Also when you're planning your setup, it's good to think about what you're going to need to be doing in there. are your doors big enough for a wagon or wheelbarrow when you clean, how far away is you water source for cleaning and refilling waterers, feeders, etc... alot of your planning will work itself out when you think about how you want to do the day to day stuff.
     
  7. Rafter 7 Paint Horses

    Rafter 7 Paint Horses Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 13, 2007
    East Texas
    I believe everyone has answered your questions very well.
    I have a few questions for you.

    How large is your brooder that you are planning on keeping your chicks in?
    If it is smaller than 10 feet x 10 feet, you don't have much time to get a coop built. Just a few weeks, if that.
    They will grow very fast, and need more room even faster.

    A few suggestions about a coop:
    Everything I'm mentioning is for when your chickens are grown, because you need to build now for their adult size.

    Most here go by the rule that you need 4 sq. ft. of space per standard size chicken in the coop and 10 sq. ft. per chicken in a secure run.
    These sq. ft. per bird for the coop are for only being locked up at night, this is not enough room if they have to be confined for more than overnight.
    To house the amount of chickens you are getting, you will need a coop of about 18 ft. x 18 ft. as a minimum size, for being locked up only at night.

    If you plan on leaving them locked up for most of the day and only out in the afternoons, you will need a secure run for them that is attached to the coop, unless you plan on building a huge coop.
    This will need to be at least 18 ft. x 35 feet. This will give you a little over 8 sq. ft. per chicken. This will be enough if you are going to be letting them out every day to catch bugs and do what chickens do outside.
    They will turn the run into bare ground very quickly, but you need to leave them in the coop/run for a few weeks, so they know where home is before turning them out to range, so they will return at dusk to go to bed.

    I hope this gives you some idea of where to start, and if you need further assistance, we will all be happy to help.

    Jean
     
  8. NoSpringChick

    NoSpringChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 15, 2008
    SE PA
    I have a question for you....with 78 chicks...what are you using to brood them in?
     
  9. Julie_in_PA

    Julie_in_PA Out Of The Brooder

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    May 15, 2008
    Southern PA
    Well it sounds like we have alot of planning, figuring, and work to do !!! [​IMG] I'll be glad once we have something up and finished !

    Currently I have a 24 x 40 barn where I house my goats, barn cats and 1 pony. We do have a large section empty right now ... but I really didn't want to use it for the chickens. Of course it's available if NEEDED (if we don't get the coop done in time). My brooder isn't REAL large ... it's not near 10x10 that's for sure. It's about 4 x 3 is more like it. So I assume that won't work for long at all. However, it is two levels ... so we CAN put half the peeps in the top level under heat lamps, and the other half in the bottom level under heat lamps. Also - the peeps that my grandparents get will be going to their farm right away - so I won't have the total 78 (75 laying + 3 broilers) to worry about. Although I'm not SURE how many my grandparents will want. I'm GUESSING 25.

    Anyway, we haven't made our plans on the coop yet - I've been looking at all the plan ideas on here, so we can get started soon. I've been telling hubby we need to get into action ... so hopefully it won't be long.

    I want to "do it right" the FIRST time ... so I want to make a large enough, sturdy enough, handy enough ... nice coop to begin with ~ I don't want to waste time and money on something that won't last. So I'm really looking through all the plans and trying to get as many ideas and information that I can so we do it right. So thanks SOOOOOOOO much for the replies ! And for some actual dimensions ... that is a GREAT GREAT help !!! Cause I had no idea what the dimensions needed to be at all.

    My barn has all the modern luxeries [​IMG] Running water, a sink, electricity with lots of lights and outlets, etc.
    So I'd LIKE to figure out a way to build our coop near our barn - so that I will only have to run into the barn for water, OR hubby could even run a water line from the barn to the chicken coop for me (and electricity) if I'd have them close together [​IMG] So I'm trying to figure out how and where to build it - that close to my barn. I do know of a good location I think ... although I did have future plans of putting a milk house there ... sigh. Oh well - I'll get it figured out soon.

    I feel like now that I have these replies with all of the good answers I was given - I atleast have a starting point to work with [​IMG] So I really do appreciate all of your help !!!! (hug)

    I will keep you all updated on what we come up with out of this, and eventually (hopefully soon) - the finished product.

    And please - if there's anymore advice that ANY of you have to offer - please do so, because like I said - we NEED ideas, and advice - we're new at this and want to do it right the FIRST time around. Thanks [​IMG]
     
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:FWIW, my 20 chicks just got kicked out to the big pen yesterday -- at age 2 wks -- because they were getting really too big and rammy for their 2x4 brooder. Even if yours is two 4x3 levels, I am skeptical you're going to get more than 2 weeks out of it without running into Issues (pecking, etc). So while planning is nice, it is probably time to commit to a design and pick up your hammer [​IMG]

    BTW, can you build the coop as a lean-to attached to the existing barn, which would much simplify the situation with electricity, water lines, etc.

    If you find that you have to move the chicks to the section of the existing barn that you mentioned, be aware it will almost certainly need a fair bit of work put into it for predator-proofing... pretty much everything eats chickens, esp. when they are just chicks. Rats, raccoons, weasels, etc. Rats and weasels can go thru a 1-2" hole. Raccoons can go through openings up in the eaves of a building. Etcetera. Be paranoid [​IMG]

    5)Does the coop need to be vented ? (like cow barns and horse barns need vented)

    Yes, very much so. Put your ventilation up high, and not right above/next to where the roosts will go. Chickens create an AMAZING amount of dampness and ammonia, moreso (pound for pound) than horses or cows, and without good ventilation you will have disease and such. Build in LOTs of ventilation, it's easy enough to close off what you don't need at any given time. They'll need ventilation even in winter.

    I would suggest windows, especially if you will not have a fort-knox security level in your run (so that the chickens will have to be closed into the coop at night). Without windows, and not being let out til whenever you get up in the morning which is probably not always as early as the sky begins to lighten [​IMG], you may not get the egg production you would otherwise, esp. in the non-summer months of the year.

    Be aware you may soon need to raise the 3 broiler chicks separately from the layers, as they grow much much much faster and are quite different in their habits, feed consumption, etc.

    Good luck and have fun,

    Pat​
     

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