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Designing Home For Some Spring Chicks

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Pondboss, Dec 1, 2013.

  1. Pondboss

    Pondboss Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 1, 2013
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    I'm designing a new coop for planned 3 hens that I will be starting this coming spring. The coop is 4' x 6' and should hold 3 to 6 hens. My question is about ventilation. I have a good deal of ventilation at the roof line (see attached pictures,) about 11 square feet in total. I live in a climate where the summers can get very hot and fairly humid. To the point, should I add lower vents under the large double windows? This would be directly under the roosts and I have read much about the dangers of drafts. So, is my current ventilation enough? Too much? Increased for the summer? Reduced for the winter?

    Many thanks for your responses from a new member!
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    P.S. I used SketchUp to draw the plans (which will look much better that the actual product!)
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Honestly, anywhere the summers are hot, I would design a completely different type of setup for them, not an enclosed building at all. Chickens tolerate cold very well, and many people in Alaska don't even heat their coops. But they have a lot of trouble with heat. Every summer, people report losing birds to heat. They need shade and good breeze on hot days, including breeze on the roost area. Here is a thread about the designs people use successfully where summers are hot:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/163417/please-show-me-your-hot-weather-coops/0_20
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. VioletandBodie

    VioletandBodie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    you should probably change it to a 10x8 because you will end up with more chickens its how it always works. But anyways will you birds be free ranging during the day or penned/locked up?
     
  4. Pondboss

    Pondboss Out Of The Brooder

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    I am constrained by to a 4' width as I am threading the coop between a patio and some Maple Tree trunks, I could add onto the length pretty easily, but am restricted somewhat by the length of the patio.

    Also, the site will give me plenty of summer shade thanks to the large Maples. One reason I'm thinking of placing the coop here, is that it is convenient for maintenance, egg collecting and 'bird-bonding'. Also, due to the shade and the thirsty tree roots grass and other greenery is hard to grow here.

    The open wall idea is great! I think I can pretty easily swap the door (top picture, with the X-Brace trim) with a screen door during the hot summer months. That should take care of good summer ventilation and breezes.

    There will be an enclosed run of at least 4' x 10' (again constrained by the length of the patio), plus the area under the coop itself, for a total of at least 64 square feet. I have small suburban lot by a fairly heavily traveled road and parks, so I'm concerned about total free range during my formative years. Once they are grown and acclimated ( ie. respond to my voice and the lure of tasty treats) I may let them roam on a supervised basis.

    So far, can I assume the the gable vents, opened windows, plus the option of opening up one side for the summer would be adequate vis-a-vis ventilation?

    Thanks for the quick answers.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Not sure where you are located or how hot it actually gets. You can edit your community profile under “My Profile” at the top of this page to put in a general location. That does help with a lot of questions. I don’t know how cold your winters get or what you consider hot.

    I do agree that heat kills a lot more chickens than cold. I’ve seen chickens sleep in trees in zero Fahrenheit weather. Those trees were in a protected valley, had some real thick branches, and the chickens could move around a bit to get out of the worst of the wind, but they did not get frostbite and certainly did not freeze to death.

    The drafts you worry about in cold weather are winds moving fast enough to ruffle their feathers, which can happen in storms. Their feathers and down trap a lot of air which insulates them. A breeze strong enough to ruffle those feathers can release that trapped air. The added danger is that moving air can cause wind chill. That’s the danger of drafts. On the other hand, ventilation removes excess moisture which can lead to frostbite. Good ventilation without drafts hitting them I important in really cold weather.

    In hot weather, a breeze hitting them feels good. Drafts are not a problem in hot weather, not at all. It’s really hard to have too much ventilation in warm or hot weather.

    Be careful with a screen door. Don’t use regular screen. Instead use wire heavy enough a coyote, big dog, or big raccoon can’t tear through and make the frame strong enough they can’t destroy it and get inside. I don’t know if you can open those windows or not, but if you do they need to be covered with heavy wire too to stop predators.

    Instead of a screen door, I’d suggest you cut out an opening down low, frame that in, and cover it with heavy wire, just like you would frame it for a window. If you wish, you could even make a flap you could lower in the winter.

    All this assumes your enclosed run is not predator proof. If you are confident your run is totally predator proof against climbing, digging, and just strong ripping predators, then you don’t have to worry about all this.

    It sounds like your set-up will be real nice for 3 or 4 hens, plenty of room. Those maple trees will help a lot in summer. If I may make a suggestion, consider using light colors for the roof and maybe even the sides to reflect more heat instead of absorbing it.

    Good luck! I think you are going to have a good experience with your chickens. Glad you joined us.
     
  6. ECBW

    ECBW Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Summer coop can use all the windows and vents you can design into it. Just design shutters for theses vents so they can be closed as necessary when the cold sets in.

    If possible, place the coop in shady spot would be better for summer, sunny spot in the winter. My coop actually has such location being in the woods.
     
  7. Pondboss

    Pondboss Out Of The Brooder

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    Long Island, NY
    I'm not quite in the woods, but under 3 huge Norway Maples. The spot for the coop is shaded out, and the maple roots have sucked the living life out of the soil, so grass or shrubs and flowers can't really grow there. So it is a good way to make this area if not more landscaped, but at least more productive and interesting.

    But I'm looking to see the battle between the scratching power of chickens vs. the mat of surface roots. Because of the root mat, it would be too difficult to dig down and bury the hardware cloth I've seen recommended everywhere. I'm going to place patio blocks along the perimeter and hope that racoons do not like to tunnel too deeply.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    A way to protect against digging predators is to use an apron. Lay an 18” to 24” piece of wire on the ground and attach it to the bottom of your fence so nothing can squeeze through. Leave it laying flat and maybe bury it 2” (if you had sod, which you probably don’t) or lay something on it to hold it down. The idea is that a digging predator goes up to the fence, starts digging, hits the wire, and doesn’t know to back up.
     
  9. pm

    pm Out Of The Brooder

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    If you are planning to use sheet goods (plywood or OSB) for the walls and floor, I would increase the size to 4" x 8". This would reduce the amount of waste and give you more room for just a little more money.

    Paul
     
  10. Pondboss

    Pondboss Out Of The Brooder

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    Long Island, NY
    Yes, I agree. Roost space is limited inside due to the interior nesting boxes. Speaking of Roost space, do birds tend to face one direction while roosting? Or is it just random. Do they like to face the wall, look out a window, or face into the coop. I only ask because that would cut the size of any planned poop board in half, so to speak. If I put a poster of a hot looking rooster up, will that get them to cooperate.... :)
     

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