Coop & Run, All in One

Globalksp

In the Brooder
Dec 28, 2020
8
13
18
Los Angeles, CA
Hello! I believe this is my first post here. It's going to be long as I've had all of this cooped up inside of me for weeks (no pun intended!).

The Backstory
We live in Los Angeles and rent our home from a wonderful, creative family who has had the property in their family since the 1920's. When we moved in about a year and a half ago we noticed that there was a chicken coop! Fast forward a year and a neighbor had traded our landlady a hen (Ameraucana) for access to her nasturtiums for his ducks. The hen took up residence in the coop and all was well albeit lonely. Our landlady (and we) fed the hen table scraps, but not much else. Having worked on a pastured livestock farm prior to moving to LA, I knew that the hen needed more so picked up some feed, grit, and oyster shell for her. Then we went away for 6 weeks during the height of the wildfires this year and came back to a heavily molting hen who just didn't look well. We got her more feed and she started to look better.

Fast forward again to Christmas and I gifted my fiancee 4, 7 month old hens: 2 Barred Rocks and 2 Buff Orpington's. So that's where we're at currently.
IMG_4365.jpg


We have a great relationship with the landlady, but clearly have different standards of care for the chickens. So, we now gingerly walk the line between overstepping our boundary with coop improvements and hen care (the two "flocks" are still currently separated) and making improvements that all will benefit from. With that introduction, here's our coop and my questions follow.

The Coop & Run, All in One

Just after the first rain we've seen since April!
IMG_1600.jpg


The inside, before: Dirt floor, some bamboo and yard scraps, and some pine shavings I added a few weeks back.
IMG_1605.jpg


The inside, after: dark photo, but... evened out the ground, spread around the droppings that had accumulated, mixed the pine shavings and debris that was already in the coop, and put down new straw.
IMG_1606.jpg


Video was shot to record flock introduction behavior, but shows the coop well.


The Questions

  1. Size considerations... is the coop large enough? I think so, but, do you?
    1. We have many predators in the canyon. To name a few: coyotes, raccoons, mountain lions, hawks (a nest or two), owls (a nest), neighbors dogs, cats (lots of strays/canyon cats). Our landlady had a flock in the past that was able to roam the property during the day and had no issue with predation. Ideally, the girls would be able to get some outside of coop time, but not quite yet.
  2. No "inside" for the birds.
    1. We live in southern California, it rarely rains and rarely drops below 45 *F. Part of the coop is covered by tarp which was installed this past summer when it got really hot and dry and the vines that crawl and cover the coop withered and dried up. Our landlady installed the tarp to provide shade. That said, this past week, we received an inch and a half of rain and I felt very bad for the hens who had few "dry" places to hang out.
    2. I'm planning on installing another tarp over the nest boxes and perches where the ladies sleep at night.
    3. Thoughts?
  3. Deep litter method (DLM) in an open coop such as this
    1. Back on the farm in the chicken and duck brooders, we used the deep litter method to much success. But, I'm wondering just how much composting action I'll see in an open coop like this in southern CA where everything is dry and hot.
    2. I'm not opposed to "Watering" the coop if needed to get the composting action going.
  4. Food & Water
    1. It's a nightmare at the moment. We have lots of tree rats that call the canyon home and will not use poison (see predator list above). They love to come out at night and snack on the table scraps. We've started putting table scraps in during the AM only to give the girls enough time to go over them. Aside from the rats, the hens knock over everything we put feed into. So much wasted feed, grit, and oyster shell.
    2. We have a rat-proof chicken feeder being delivered today or tomorrow that should keep the feed safe.
    3. Will be using bamboo from the property to design some grit and oyster shell feeders as they knock over anything that you put in the coop.
    4. Still debating which water system we're going to go for (nipples / cups / gravity tray), but one will be installed as our landlady's current set up of bowls get fouled by poop and debris.
  5. Nest boxes
    1. The new girls (and the Ameracauna, when she was laying) seem to prefer one box out of the 9 they have available. I've observed them a bit to try to figure out why, but... no clue. They all lay about once a day (Ameracauna is still off lay, poor girl) so everyone seems happy. Any rhyme or reason why they all stick to 1?
  6. Finally... take a look at the photos and video. If you see anything that could use attention, please speak up!

Thanks!
 

CalBickieMomma

Songster
Jul 27, 2019
973
1,817
246
San Luis Obispo County, CA
Howdy! I think I just commented on your post about incorporating the hens :) .

I live in San Luis Obispo county, so am in a very similar environment (but it gets warmer where you guys are).

We live on mostly sand (very close to the dunes), and my coop/run sits directly on that sand (I put down Eco Flakes in the coop, then rake it out every now and then and just rake it in to the dirt before putting in a new layer).

On hot days, I try to water down the run to cool it off.

I use plastic buckets for water and traditional metal feeders (but don’t keep them full unless I’m away and someone is watching the chickens for me). I feed mine All Flock and scratch (I have roosters so can’t feed them layer pellets) and they have access to oyster shells and the broken shells of their eggs we’ve eaten. I also give them greens and treats whenever I can (I’m too paranoid to let them free range because they are my precious children :love.

Ugh! We had a rat problem last year - the worst! We got it under control using traps (the black plastic Tom Cat brand and the electric ones for in the barn/shop). Plus, my dog is a terrier mix and has been super helpful in finding and eliminating them. I, too, refuse to use poison.

We didn’t have much of a flea problem this year, but keep your eyes peeled for mites. Ugh! Can’t seem to get rid of the buggers!

What kind of wire do you have around the coop? Hardware cloth is probably the best way to keep predators out. That’s what I used all around and over the top of the run and buried a foot down around the coop and run.

Other than that, it sounds like you guys are off to a great start! And I love the look of you coop! Here are a few pictures of my coop and run - and my ridiculous Bickies :wee.
 

Attachments

  • 6B31927D-4771-423E-BB6C-B07612093B1D.jpeg
    6B31927D-4771-423E-BB6C-B07612093B1D.jpeg
    532.9 KB · Views: 8
  • 92206857-862E-42E2-8634-BB23522A4638.jpeg
    92206857-862E-42E2-8634-BB23522A4638.jpeg
    674.8 KB · Views: 7
  • 8E7381C6-92DD-4E39-BF29-7846684C893D.jpeg
    8E7381C6-92DD-4E39-BF29-7846684C893D.jpeg
    574.1 KB · Views: 7
  • A02CFA7A-79CC-4438-BD2D-5DB6C7071C97.jpeg
    A02CFA7A-79CC-4438-BD2D-5DB6C7071C97.jpeg
    481.9 KB · Views: 7
  • 031DF785-15B9-484E-9340-BEB1C9DFB593.jpeg
    031DF785-15B9-484E-9340-BEB1C9DFB593.jpeg
    562.2 KB · Views: 7
  • 6BA0C593-175C-42A0-A36D-3EA7CCC6A266.jpeg
    6BA0C593-175C-42A0-A36D-3EA7CCC6A266.jpeg
    392.7 KB · Views: 7
  • 8FFF001F-F29D-4D81-83C4-79F121BB98BF.jpeg
    8FFF001F-F29D-4D81-83C4-79F121BB98BF.jpeg
    757.7 KB · Views: 7
  • 73418C5F-34A5-458B-936E-4EAB770FC0ED.jpeg
    73418C5F-34A5-458B-936E-4EAB770FC0ED.jpeg
    226.6 KB · Views: 7
  • 5CCCA530-32E8-4C30-AADA-80692CDD657C.jpeg
    5CCCA530-32E8-4C30-AADA-80692CDD657C.jpeg
    231.2 KB · Views: 9
  • 1388E611-6217-4996-890E-8B3244959CA3.jpeg
    1388E611-6217-4996-890E-8B3244959CA3.jpeg
    496.1 KB · Views: 9

Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jul 26, 2008
34,448
71,067
1,462
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
My Coop
Size considerations... is the coop large enough? I think so, but, do you?

What are the actual dimensions?

We have many predators in the canyon.

I think your fencing looks mostly good, but a few points:

1. Raccoons can reach in the areas where your fence isn't layered... and they climb well.. You need to make sure all areas around perches are raccoon hand proofed. They truly will reach in, grab a hen, and rip her bit by bit through a fence.

2. One thought is to maybe bite the bullet, and shell out the money for enough strong and tiny hole hardware cloth for the entire enclosure. The reason this money might be worth it is then the coop would truly be predator proof, and it would keep out the rats! With tiny hole hardware cloth, and a dug in appron/skirt of wire around the enclosure you could even make the coop/ run mouse proof as well.


No "inside" for the birds.

In your climate an "inside" usually ends up being an oven. However, a bit of roof would be nice.


Food & Water

Sounds like you are already figuring out how to handle this. But yes, oyster shell and grit in dry, screwed to the wall feeders are nice.

Yes... with the rats it might be best to take out all food every night, or lock it up in some way.

Any rhyme or reason why they all stick to 1?

Probably them just being chickens.
 

Sally PB

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
8,394
36,753
933
Belding, MI
I love the natural sticks for perches!

I'm in Michigan, so I can't relate to your weather, especially this time of year. But a roof of some kind -- even a tarp -- would be a good addition, for shade. I used a heavy duty tarp over part of my run to give my girls some shade last summer, and they used that area the most.

Regarding the size, the rule of thumb is 4 square feet of coop and 10 sf of run per bird. Since you essentially have all run, for 5 birds, that's 50 sf. But I would go as big as you can. Then you can get more chickens... Really, though, more space gives them more places to explore, things to do, and places to get away from the others, if necessary.

One thing I did to keep stuff upright was to have it next to the fence, and use a bungee cord to keep it from falling over. I also learned to put waterers up on something -- bricks, wooden blocks, whatever -- to help keep dirt/bedding from getting scratched into it. Or if you hang them, have the nipple/bowl just below their head height.

Since you don't have a coop, per se, make this as secure and predator proof as you can.

Good luck, and welcome to BYC!
 

Globalksp

In the Brooder
Dec 28, 2020
8
13
18
Los Angeles, CA
What are the actual dimensions?
Good question! I'll try to measure when I go out this evening, but if I had to guess... one room at 12' x 6' and the other at 12' x 4'.

I think your fencing looks mostly good, but a few points:

1. Raccoons can reach in the areas where your fence isn't layered... and they climb well.. You need to make sure all areas around perches are raccoon hand proofed. They truly will reach in, grab a hen, and rip her bit by bit through a fence.

2. One thought is to maybe bite the bullet, and shell out the money for enough strong and tiny hole hardware cloth for the entire enclosure. The reason this money might be worth it is then the coop would truly be predator proof, and it would keep out the rats! With tiny hole hardware cloth, and a dug in appron/skirt of wire around the enclosure you could even make the coop/ run mouse proof as well.

The one thing I'm not worried too much about is the predator proofing of the coop. Our land lady built it herself and went to great lengths to make it secure. The welded wire fencing goes a foot of two underground and then wraps under the coop by nearly 2 feet. Coyotes are diggers!
The entire coop is welded wire... walls & ceilings. The walls are layered with smaller grid fence and the perches where the ladies sleep aren't close to the walls.


In your climate an "inside" usually ends up being an oven. However, a bit of roof would be nice.

Yes, my thoughts exactly.


Probably them just being chickens.

:p
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
17,891
35,856
1,062
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
The one thing I'm not worried too much about is the predator proofing of the coop. Our land lady built it herself and went to great lengths to make it secure.

Except you have a rat problem, and simply reinforcing the fencing so that there's no gaps bigger than 1/2" would keep rats out. 1/4" if mice are an issue.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom