Designing housing for urban chicken keeping

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Brooke215, Oct 13, 2016.

  1. Brooke215

    Brooke215 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    EDITED 10/13/16 @ 11:30 AM to include new thoughts

    Due to HOA restrictions, I have to house my chickens in my garage. I don't park my cars in there so that's not an issue, but finding something that works well is. Right now all I have is eggs in the incubator and hope for the future, so planning help is appreciated. I know that this is not ideal, and I wish I had a huge farm to do all this on but I don't. I want to work with what I do have so that I don't cause any issues with our neighbors ect.

    What I need:
    Space to house 3 laying hens (the rest of the chickens will be harvested for meat)
    Movable (just in case)

    What I have:
    2 car garage with concrete floor and two very large windows with lots of natural light
    (Attached with electricity and a built in work bench approx. 2x8 feet. Has two garage doors, plus a side door with screen door.
    Here's an idea (I'll post dimensions later):

    [​IMG]

    What would be a bonus:
    Space to sprout fodder (although I do have a small tent style greenhouse that could work for this purpose)
    Stackable cages for future expansion? (I'm interested in having quail soon, and off into the future potentially rabbits)

    Here's a design I was playing with from some cages I found online and in my local feed store. I didn't have space to draw out the area underneath, but it is about twice the size and would look similar to the photo at the lower left corner. This would give roughly 12 square feet for the chicken coop, and a little larger than a 2x3 foot upper cage for quail.


    [​IMG]

    I could do hinged doors on the run area that sits beneath the coop, this would give me better access to clean. I'm also thinking of constructing a sand box underneath and using that for the run bedding with traditional bedding in the actual coop area. I'm thinking that this will also help with keeping things clean.

    Toying with the plexiglass idea, would it be better to do a box type enclosure that includes the window with an access door for me, and house the coop and cages inside of that? If so I could run the cages along the wall the garage door is on at the lower left side and have a plexiglass divider. I could sit them along a wall since I wasn't planning on accessing them from the back anyway.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2016
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Some people keep chickens in their house, with or without a diaper. What you are talking about can be done. Lots of things can be done. There will be some issues though.

    One big one can be dust and smell. I don’t know if that garage is attached or detached or if you have electricity to it. I don’t know what else you plan to use that garage for or what you might store in it. Chickens create a lot of dust. They shed feathers and dander. They scratch a lot and create a lot of dust from scratching the bedding to shreds. They poop a lot and that poop dries out. Their scratching creates a lot of dust from that dried poop. Whatever else you have in that garage is likely to be coated in a pretty nasty dust. Can you manage that with you lifestyle and how else you plan to use that garage? One possible solution might be to build very solid walls around you coop and run to contain that dust and maybe use a window for ventilation as well as light. Maybe use something like Plexiglas for some of the walls. You may be OK with the dust but that could be a huge issue.

    Wet poop smells. If you can keep it dry it shouldn’t smell bad at all, but a moisture can create a nasty smell. One problem is that if the poop gets very thick it will hold moisture. You’ll need a good poop management plan. If you clean the poop out often you’ll need a way to dispose of it and any associated bedding. If you clean often that volume can get pretty huge if it includes bedding. You might want a compost pile or find someone like a gardener that will haul it away for you.

    For only two or three hens you only need one nest. You don’t need one on each end. You can at least simplify that.

    What you show is probably big enough for two hens. But you are not planning on two hens, you are planning on two hens plus however many you grow to butcher age from the hatch. I don’t know what age you plan to butcher or how many you will have, but they grow big pretty fast. You may find you need a lot more room than you are showing. Having the extra chicks to butcher adds some complications.

    Another potential room issue is that you need room to work in there. If you box it off to help control the dust, the run area needs to be big enough that you can work in there, especially for poop management. Adding quail or rabbits in the future might argue for more space for access too. Since you show stacking the quail on top of the chickens I’m assuming you have plans to use the rest of the garage for other things. I get hung up on the dust thing, maybe I’m overemphasizing that, but I think it might be really unpleasant.

    Chickens are social animals. They do a lot better with other chickens around. Sometimes a lone chicken will bond with you or another animal, but it’s really best if there are other chickens around. When you deal with living animals you sometimes have to deal with dead animals. With only two hens you may have an emergency if one dies. Some people do fine with two hens but my personal preference is a minimum of three. That way if one dies you have time to respond instead of going into emergency mode. With that limited space, integration could be more problematic than if you had more space. To me having extra room gives you a lot more flexibility in dealing with issues. The space you are showing is tight but would probably work for three hens as well as two. But you don’t have any flexibility if something happens.

    “Ability to take the hens out into the garden at times, and certainly to bring fresh produce in to them” is pretty irrelevant. It’s not going to change anything in the garage. How you find space to sprout fodder is so site specific I can’t address that. I don’t do quail or rabbits so I won’t address them. From what I know of rabbits though I think they are pretty clean, I don’t think you need to worry about dust from them. But you need an expert opinion.

    I think you can make that work. To me the big questions are the dust and how much room you need to grow out the chicks you hatch. I think the rest is manageable.
     
  3. Brooke215

    Brooke215 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Very good points. I'll definitely have to think about everything you brought up. Especially what you said about three. I'll be keeping any chickens I intend to slaughter in a separate area. Not 100% sure what it'll look like yet.

    I don't have anything in the garage but storage bins, my mower, a few saws, and garden supplies. I need to consider the dust issue. I'm a nurse and know how bad that could be.

    Thanks for the input :)
     
  4. Brooke215

    Brooke215 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm scrapping the garage idea. The chickens need more ventilation than I could get in there. I have a fairly private front garden. I'm thinking of putting something like this behind the fenced area:

    [​IMG]


    Do you think this is a better way to go?
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Yes, in many ways.
     
  6. Brooke215

    Brooke215 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 11, 2016
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    My Coop
    Thank you for your help with planning!
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Those coops are often(very often) too small..... for many reasons.......and cheaply built.
    Be very careful before purchasing.
     
  8. BeyJHeart

    BeyJHeart New Egg

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    Are there coop plans available on line ? I wouldn't mind paying for a decent set of simple plans. I am desperate for a real chicken coop. All I have is a small prefab I bought from a local farm store. OK for the summer but now am really red necking it for the winter with straw and tarps.
     
  9. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Check out the coops section. Tons of them have detailed plans posted.
     

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