Coop Questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by BuilderGal, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. BuilderGal

    BuilderGal Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 15, 2012
    We are getting 6 chicks in May, and I have to build a coop before then. [​IMG]
    We are getting 2 EEs, 1 SLW, 1 Australorp, 1 Buff Brahma Bantam, and a Silkie. So, four med size hens and two bantams. I'm thinking of a 4' x 3' henhouse and a 4' x 10' run. Is that enough space for them? I'm also planning on building a portable run for them, so they can have access to fresh grass.
    Also, what is the best way to ventilate the coop? I was thinking of making vents on the top and bottom. Cover them with hardware mesh/chicken wire and make a plywood flap that can be opened or closed. I would open them both in the summer and spring, but only open the bottom one in the winter to keep the warm air in. Is that a good idea?
    What size brooder am I going to need? Is there a maximum size for the chicks? I read about 6 sq in per chick, but would they freeze if I gave them too much room. How soon can I put them in their outside coop? I've read you can put them out as soon as two weeks. Is that too early?
    We have a (prox.) 2' x 3-4' wood box. If we convert that to a brooder, how long will it house 6 chicks comfortably? It's about 1 1/2 - 2' tall.
    This is going to be my first building job ever. I have limited tools and a limited budget. I'm planning on using mostly pallets (find decent ones and take them apart) and a few studs that we intercepted from the dump, and pulled nails out of, for the wood part. We are most likely going to buy corregated roofing (any info on how to install that on a slant and make a PVC gutter system would be appreciated) and chicken wire or hardware mesh.
    We have old windows from replacing ours last year. I would like to build a frame and use half of a window for light in the winter. They already are in two parts, because that is part of their opening mechanism, so I don't have to do anything fancy. It won't open, which is why I'm making vents as well. Can I use silicone sealant to "glue" the window in?
    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012
  2. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Well since no one else has answered, I'll take a shot.

    First, the coop will need to be at least a 4 X 6 or greater. Double that size for the run. ALWAYS BUILD BIGGER, you'll want more chickens.

    Sounds like you have a good plan for ventilation.

    Brooder size doesn't matter as long as it's large enough for them to grow and they have a place they can stay warm until they are feathered out.

    Sounds like the rest of your plans ought to work out well.

    BUT be certain that the windows are secure, you don't want them falling out and onto one of your chickens.

    GOOD LUCK!!!
     
  3. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree that a 4x6 coop and twice that, or about 8x6, is about as small as you want to go for 6 birds. Ventilation needs to be at the highest point of the coop, especially in winter, and even more importantly in a small coop, so that humid, ammoniated air can escape. Unless you live in an extremely cold part of the world, like Alaska or northern Canada, the concern is not keeping them warm in winter, but keeping the coop as free of humidity and ammonia fumes as possible. (Even in Alaska, not everyone heats their coop.) If your summers are hot, that is more of a threat to chickens. Shade and a good cross breeze help a lot.

    Your wood box will hold them for 2 or 3 weeks, although I'd take them outside for a while each day before that if possible. This also gets them used to the outdoors so they can be moved out sooner. You can keep them in the coop from the beginning if you set it up well enough; they do need heat for a few weeks, especially for the first week.

    If you buy corrugated roofing, which is what I like, there is no need for a gutter. The simple way is to build a roof that slants from one side to the other. It's better for drainage if the roof is a little larger than the coop, so there is overhang. Ventilation would then be under the eaves at the high end. The windows and silicone sound good. I'd look through the coop section to get an idea how to build ithe roof and install windows. Coops are a great first builder's project, IMO. Good luck!
     
  4. BuilderGal

    BuilderGal Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 15, 2012
    We were aiming smaller for the first coop. We are planning to build a bigger coop when we get more chickens. We can only have ten (or eleven, if we get a rooster) where we live. Thanks a bunch for the help! [​IMG]
    And I'll see if we can rework our plans.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You are getting some good advice so far, but I’ll chime in too.

    I'm thinking of a 4' x 3' henhouse and a 4' x 10' run. Is that enough space for them?
    There is a general rule of thumb some on this forum use that goes 4 square feet in the coop and 10 square feet in the run for each full sized chicken. Bantams do take less space. That is just a general rule of thumb that will keep most of us out of trouble most of the time. How much space they actually need depends on the personality of your individual chickens, your climate, how you manage them, and other factors. There are conditions where you can get by with quite a bit less space in the coop, but there are also times you need more.

    I understand you are on a budget, but I find that the more space you can give them, the less likely you are to see behavioral problems and you generally have to do less work. Think poop management. The more you can spread them out, the less often you have to actively manage poop. I firmly believe the less often I have to clean out the coop, the better. You might look on Craigslist for building materials such as roofing materials or maybe fencing for your run. Maybe you could even find a shed already built that you just have to transport?

    Also, what is the best way to ventilate the coop?

    It depends some on where you live, but for most of us, the heat of summer is a much greater danger than cold in winter. You need as much ventilation, high and low, as you can get in the summer. But you still need good ventilation in the winter. Your biggest risk is frostbite, not the chickens freezing to death. Many people on this forum have fixed frostbite problems by providing more ventilation. What you want is to have lots of ventilation to get rid of moisture but not have a breeze blowing directly on them. Don’t worry about them being cold if they are out of a direct breeze. That’s not a problem. The way I provide this is to have openings under the overhangs, both high and low sides, but have their roosts lower than the openings. In the summer I open a window and have another vent at ground level I can open up. But that lower ventilation is closed right now.

    What size brooder am I going to need? Is there a maximum size for the chicks? I read about 6 sq in per chick, but would they freeze if I gave them too much room.

    I hate giving hard and fast recommendations for space because it depends on so many different things. The number of chicks enters into it (the fewer you have, the more space each needs, at least to a point), how many males versus females, at what age are you going to be willing to take them out, that kind of thing. What you need a brooder to do is to provide draft protection so a breeze cannot blow directly on them, have room for food and water, and have a warm area. It needs to be kept dry.

    I have a 3’ x 5’ brooder that I keep in the coop. It is made out of wire so is easy to keep dry and it has great ventilation. I wrap a plastic drop cloth type thing around the bottom 12” to 18” to keep breezes off of them. I keep one area warm and allow the rest to cool off as it will, often down into the 50’s or even cooler, depending on the time of the year. They usually spend the first couple of days pretty much under the heat, but by the third day, and often sooner, they are playing all over the brooder. You would be surprised how much time they spend in the cooler areas. I make mine big enough that they can find their own comfort zone and I don’t have to worry about keeping the entire brooder a perfect temperature.

    I’ve kept 28 chicks in there until they were 4-1/2weeks old without a problem, but only 5 were male. I’ve kept 21 in there until they were about 5 weeks old, but only three were female. In both cases, it started looking full, but I had no problems.

    How soon can I put them in their outside coop? I've read you can put them out as soon as two weeks. Is that too early?

    I start mine in the coop, but the critical question is how long do they need supplemental heat? My answer may surprise you. That varies. I had a broody hen wean some chicks in the heat of summer at 2-12/ week s age and they were fine. They no longer needed any supplemental heat from her. I’ve turned the heat off on my brooder at 3 weeks. But there are times that I have provided supplemental heat until 5 weeks. It depends on the weather. Most chicks are fully feathered by 4-1/2 to 5 weeks so they generally don’t need supplemental heat after that. But I acclimate my chicks to the weather. By providing heat in one area of the brooder and letting the rest cool down as it will, mine are used to the cooler weather. If you keep them in a hothouse, then a sudden switch could be a shock to their system.

    This past fall, I put some 5 week olds outside in an unheated grow-out coop, but it was well ventilated and draft free. At 5-1/2 weeks, we had an overnight low in the mid-20’s. They were fine.


    We have old windows from replacing ours last year. I would like to build a frame and use half of a window for light in the winter. They already are in two parts, because that is part of their opening mechanism, so I don't have to do anything fancy. It won't open, which is why I'm making vents as well. Can I use silicone sealant to "glue" the window in?

    I find with most windows you can nail or preferably screw them in so they are easier to remove. Form you window frame and set the window in. You should have holes in the window framing where you can screw the window directly to the wooded frame. I’m probably not describing it very well, but it is amazingly quick and easy. I use silicone around the window to seal it, but the screws are what actually holds it in.
     
  6. BuilderGal

    BuilderGal Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 15, 2012
    Thank you! I'm going to have to put a bit more work into planning, but that's why I asked. [​IMG]
     
  7. hemet dennis

    hemet dennis Chillin' With My Peeps

    This coop does fine for 6 chickens and was built from all new stuff for about $50.00 If you already have some of the wood it would cost less. The size is 4 x 4 x 5 foot tall .
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  8. jennjenn6

    jennjenn6 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 9, 2012
    Eugene, OR
    I love your coop! I have a 4x4x5 that I'm planning on keeping about 5 in. City ordinances say no more due to my lot size [​IMG] but we have 7 babies right now just in case there were any casualties.... I built a portable tractor for the front yard that we can keep about 3 in at a time, and we have space to roam free in the side yard for the others. We also decided to raise ours up and I put sand underneath it, the back door opens all the way. it's so much fun to see what other people have done. I have 2 australops, 1 Copper Maran, 1 Mottled Java, 2 Barred Cochin and 1 golden sex link. Do you think we can get away with keeping 6 if they all make it, or are these ladies too large for that? This is what it looked like before we painted it red and white :) [​IMG]
     

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