Couple of Noob questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Ozchook, Jan 18, 2010.

  1. Ozchook

    Ozchook Chirping

    Jan 1, 2010
    Hi all,
    2 simple questions I could use help with.
    1) I am building a coop/ run at the moment and was planning on having the feed inside (to deter rodents/snakes) and water outside in the run (to save space/avoid wet bedding). Is there anything wrong with this plan? They will be able to access the run all day from early morning to dusk but do they get thirsty in the night!!!
    2) This seems a bit dim but, can someone give me an approximate size for the pop door opening (for Australorps/Isa Browns). I've been peeping over the neighbour's fence at his coop and his door seems quite small, the chooks seem to have to duck down to get in/out is there a reason or is it just a shonky design!

    (Enjoying the site tons and still determined to finish the coop without spending any money!)

  2. thechickenchick

    thechickenchick Born city, Living country

    Mar 8, 2008
    Eaton, Colorado
    Good Morning and welcome to BYC!

    I think 12 x 14 is a common size for the pop door. We have standards and bantams and this size works good, even when they try to squeeze out 2 at a time [​IMG]
  3. gsim

    gsim Songster

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    Nothing wrong with water out, food in. I do it that way in Tennessee for the same reason, plus it is easier to get them all outside when I pull up the two pop doors in the AM. They are not likely to leave the roost to drink at night. Must be okay because my chooks are laying like gangbusters with no artificial light or any special feed. People in really cold climates like to water indoors because they can use dog bowl heaters and such things to keep water from being froze

    Pop size can be from 10 X 14 to 12 X 16.
    I like the overhead cable/pulley operated pop doors. Cable loops hang down on each side of my entrance door and I just pull them down about 14" and hook the loops over a small nail set on each side of the doors trim. Then I just unhook and let them drop down at night. They are 1/2" osb.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Assuming you do not have a light on all night, there is no reason to feed or water them at night. Once they go to roost, they go to roost. They do need some hours of darkness also. Certain egg defects can be caused by constant light.

    As long as they have access to the water shortly after they wake up, there is no reason to keep it inside. They will wake up thirsty moreso than hungry, although it's hard to find a chicken that is not hungry. If you sleep in on weekends, say, I'd have water inside. But as long as you commit to getting up early enough to let them out shortly after they wake up, the water can be outside.

    I think you will find rodents whether you feed inside or outside. The rodents are going to find the food, where you store it if you don't take real strong measures to prevent that and certainly where you feed it. And snakes can always follow the rodents. I have a constant mouse trapping program ongoing here. Grown chickens love to eat mice, by the way.

    Some people feed inside as they think they attract fewer wild birds that way. The more wild birds around, the more of your feed the wild birds eat plus they can carry certain parasites and diseases. Although it is not as important as water, I think it is good for them to eat soon after they wake up. So again, how much do you plan to sleep in.

    As far as feeding outside, the less time they spend inside the coop the less poop load there will be in the coop for you to actively manage. Poop is usually easier to handle in the run that the coop. Most of the poop in the coop will be under the roosts so that is where you will have most of your problems and do most of your raking, but I believe in totally cleaning out the coop as seldom as I can manage. It is a lot of work in mine.

    I feed layer pellets. The chickens are going to spill food. If you feed inside on litter, they cannot find all the spilled pellets so you have an inefficiency in buying them feed plus the spilled food can attract rodents inside the coop, even if you put the food away at night. My run does not have litter on it, so they can find any pellets they spill, especially since I occasionally let them run out of pellets in the feeder. I do this so they will clean up the spilled pellets and, more important to me, they will clean up all the feed in the feeder so it does not stay in there and get stale (feed loses vitamins when it gets old and stale) or mold and mildew.

    Another argument to me for feeding outside is that feeders and waterers take up space. I'm not thinking about the 4 square feet per chicken type of space because if you feed and water in the run you are not leaving them locked up in the coop so the dynamics of that changes. Chickens are clumsy fliers. I like to give them a fairly open area to fly down off the roost so they won't bang into a feeder or waterer on the way down and hurt themself. I had an Australorp pullet that hurt her neck. (She recovered, by the way) She could have done it several ways, but I think a real strong possibility is that she hit a feeder I had hanging in the coop when she came off the roost. I know a couple had hit it before when I opened the pop door. It was a freak accident but I did move the feeder.

    I made my pop door 12"x 12" or 3o cm x 30 cm. You can see the breeds I have in my signature. It is plenty big enough. The main reason to me for a pop door instead of leaving the human door open is to keep the elements out. In this case, smaller is better.

    I'm not familiar with your plans for the coop and run. All this is predicated on your having a walk-in coop. If you have a small elevated coop or a run that has litter on the ground, then some of my reasoning would not apply to you. Take what applies to your specific situation and ignore the rest.

    Good luck!!!
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Hello and welcome! Well, I have a feeder and waterer both inside, and never have issues w/spills (see my BYC page). Although I have a nightlight in my coop in case somebody wants a drink or a bite to eat during the night, I don't think they do. But I do use a light in there for about an hour or so after they're locked in, and they're up way before me, so I know they go through water at those times. The first question that popped into my head about leaving the food inside was is it lit in there, either by a window opening or artifical light? I guess I'm wondering if they would go into a dark coop to eat?

    I think my pop door is about 12 x 14, but I agree with the range gsim gave you...
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    The only problem with keeping the waterer outside would be if you will sometimes not get up to let them out first thing in the morning. They don't drink overnight, but they DO drink when they wake up in the a.m. and it is not good for chickens to go without water, it will affect their egglaying first and then their health. But if you are a reliable early riser, and would never have to lock them inside e.g. when you're out of town for a day, go for it [​IMG]

    Do try to put the waterer somewhere shaded though, as chickens will drink cooler water more happily than warm water, and also the more sun the waterer gets, the faster it gets all skanky with algae and slime and nasty stuff.

    Good luck, have fun,

  7. Ozchook

    Ozchook Chirping

    Jan 1, 2010
    Thanks all, plenty of food for thought there. Great info, very comprehensive (and Ridgerunner, it really freaked my kids out when I told them that chickens eat mice!!!)
    Thanks again [​IMG]

    re: the pop door, I just found an off-cut of marine ply 12" x 14" that's that sorted then!
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2010

  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Just consider chickens feather-cover dinosaurs. They will eat about anything.

    Except for one small problem, I think chickens would be better mousers than cats. Mice like to come around at night. Chickens are on the roost at night since they cannot see in the dark. Gives cats a big advantage. But when I put a dead mouse in the run, my chickens will play keep-away/take-away, chasing each other and playing tug of war with it. As long as it is a trapped mouse and not a poisoned mouse, I think it is the best way for me to dispose of the carcass. And since it is dead, I see nothing inhumane about it.

    Glad you got your pop door worked out.

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