coop - winter/summer?????

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by woodsman, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. woodsman

    woodsman Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 14, 2010
    saugerties, ny
    Apologies to you serious peeps out there. I have 5 surviving chickens - three roosters & two hens(mom, dad, two kids and one foster kid I guess, cause he does not resemble dad or his brother). I think three of them from first family fed a Northern Goshawk when they were younger. They are true free range birds and have been sleeping in trees this summer. The rooster arrived by accident last Spring - the hen I got from the guy who claimed the rooster wasn't from him. Pure BS. Hen has had 2, are they called clutches, so far and I found them both. Seven hatched the first time. One died first day, my guess is got in way of mom while she was teaching them to scratch. She is beautiful, but a bit of a callous grump. I suspect she is working on third family now and need to track them down for breakfast as I can't handle more chickens. I have studied all the coop designs and started converting two large boxes into a coop. OK cutting to chase. I keep reading that you have to keep them warm in winter, but all the coops I have seen seem to have a wire section. what? How on earth does one deal with that when temp is 15 - 20. I am sure that the hundreds of peeps who are real chicken people have an answer. Please advise. I would ask the guy where the parents came from, but he doesn't seem to do anything. I think he feeds the fox and coyotes. He has no coop, but on any given day might have 20 or so chickens with many many chicks all over the place, including his neighbor's yards.
    Oh yes, I am sure after all my hours building this thing they will not come near it. I have been feeding them in front of it just to get them near it. Thanks for any and all advice. Please keep critiques to a minimum. I feed the song birds all year and they don't seem to need human provided heat or homes.[​IMG][​IMG] Pecks, ralph
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010
  2. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

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    Chickens need shelter. All animals do. It doesn't have to be a coop. Most people just have a coop because "that's what everyone else does". A shed, a barn, even a three-sided enclosure of stacked straw bales with a roof (a piece of tin on top, weighted down with rocks) will work. It doesn't have to be fancy. They just need to be able to get out of the wind and prefer to have someplace to roost so they can stay dry.

    As for the wire, most coops have both an inside area that is all enclosed with vents and/or wire covered windows that can be shut and then a run. If your chickens are free range you can skip the wire run, they just need a solid place to escape the elements when they're at their harshest. I'm in MI and my chickens use a shed that has been modified with roosts, nest boxes, etc. I have a lot more than you do though. With just five even an old dog house bedded down with ample straw would be sufficient. HTH! [​IMG]
     
  3. woodsman

    woodsman Out Of The Brooder

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    Hey thanks Olive! Good info. My coop is two four by four boxes joined with a small opening between them. One has four egg laying areas with a solid front door, and the other has two perfectly placed roosts, heavy duty screening on the front, a door and a ramp. I have worked to keep out drafts. I guess if they can all stand each other they could all go in the closed up box when it is brutal outside. What does "HTH" stand for?
     
  4. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

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    Sounds like the boxes will work nicely for them. If they've been free ranging 24/7 for months you've got some hardy birds there (just the kind I prefer!) so this'll be like the plush hilton to them. [​IMG]

    HTH = Hope this helps.

    As an aside, I assume you know about the risk of predators, especially at night. If you want to make 100% sure none of your chickens are picked off you'll have to close their new coop up tight at night, but if you're okay with the risk then you can leave it open. It's a personal decision. We accept the predator risk during the day here, but do lock them up tight at night because we have a ravenous raccoon population, but the choice is yours as to what method you adopt. [​IMG]
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Northwest Arkansas
    In New York it will get fairly cold. Chickens permanently wear down coats so heat is sometimes more of a problem than cold. Chickens can handle pretty cold weather as long as they are not in a direct draft and have decent ventilation to eliminate moisture buildup from their breathing and their poop and ammonia buildup from their poop. In my opinion, the best way to provide that is to have an enclosed coop that does not let in any breeze for the most part, but higher than where the chickens roost, have openings at the top of the walls for good ventilation. It won't hurt to have a bit of a breeze over them as long as it does not hit them. Maybe block off the predominant wind direction and maybe the north direction to stop the worst of it, but have the other two wall tops open.

    To me, the most important reason to have a coop is to be able to lock them up at night in a safe place when the predators are most active. There are additional benefits such as a place to gather eggs instead of hunting everywhere and missing some of the nests, maybe a place to keep their feed dry, sometimes it is convenient for me to leave them locked up part of the day.

    How much shelter do chickens actually need? I have a lot of trouble with that question. Growing up we had a few chickens that would insist on sleeping in a tree in front of the chicken coop. It was positioned where it was pretty well protected from the wind and the branches were pretty thick so they got some protection from that. Some winters it would get down to below zero Fahrenheit. Most really cold nights there was not much wind anyway. They did not get frostbite. They did not freeze solid and fall out of the tree dead. Raccoons did not climb up there and kill them each and every night. Some people provide heat if it gets below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If you do not have adequste ventilation, that may be necessary, but I have not had that type of experience.

    If you want to get them used to using the coop, you can lock them in the coop for several days, say four or five. They should get used to it as home and soon start going in on their own at night. They may even learn to lay in there. Alternatively, you can pick them off their roosts at night after they have gone to bed and put them in the coop on the roosts. Use as little light as you can so they cannot see to get down. If you do this every night, they should accept the change in sleeping quarters within a week. You'll know because they will start going in on their own.

    HTH. Good luck!
     
  6. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    South Georgia
    You've gotten some excellent advice. Or you can heat them, coddle them -- and when the power goes out they won't be used to the cold and will suffer or even die.

    I love the bales of hay with a piece of tin on top, that would be perfect for my climate. Actually years ago, this sort of arrangement was used quite successfully in the north, too. Might be built of wood and be a little fancier, but the same arrangement.
     
  7. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

  8. woodsman

    woodsman Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 14, 2010
    saugerties, ny
    Cock a doodle doo! I love you folks! BYC is such an incredible facility. Cock a doos to the folks who created and maintain it. I was really expecting a lot of criticism due to what I figured must be my lack-a-dais-acle(sp?) behavior regarding MY flock. Instead all positive and reality confirming advice and consultation. Restores my faith in the down home American(and Canadian) people. Salt of the earth on this website. I will incorporate all your advice(within reason) as I finish up the coop. I'll snap some pics to share at some point.[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2010
  9. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    ....would love to see your pics! Happy (Cdn) Thanksgiving!
     

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