Do I need a bigger more permanent winter coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by angelavl, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. angelavl

    angelavl Out Of The Brooder

    29
    0
    24
    May 22, 2012
    Western Washington
    My husband's vote is no....

    I have a nice little chicken tractor for our 4 hens (our first flock). Honestly, they seem pretty content, and just started laying.

    But, winter approaches - and it's rainy, probably snowy... but generally milder in the PNW than back east. Also, I'm tired of moving it around the yard. The mature hens destroy the grass pretty quickly. I know it's going to be a mess once the weather changes.

    I'm thinking about making a more permanent winter structure and then maybe bringing the girls back out to yard/tractor for the summer months. Do hens mind this kind of seasonal moving?

    I'd love to benefit from your experience! Especially from those of you who have used chicken tractors and know their short-comings. Thanks all!
     
  2. angelavl

    angelavl Out Of The Brooder

    29
    0
    24
    May 22, 2012
    Western Washington
    If it helps, I'm considering making a "hoop house" or quonset style coop - using cattle panels, etc.
     
  3. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    I really think they would benefit from a bigger area come winter. Is that the coop in your avatar? Yes, definitely bigger is better in winter.

    Any possible way to move the coop into a garage or something? It would help them continue to go outdoors when the bad weather hits. Chickens normally stay inside when there is snow. That space looks very small for 4 full grown chickens.
     
  4. janinepeters

    janinepeters Chillin' With My Peeps

    906
    57
    153
    Jun 9, 2009
    I agree that more space during winter is much better. In my experience, feather picking tends to crop up when space is most restricted, which for us is during winter, and when we go away for a week, keeping the birds locked up. I also used to have a movable coop and hated it. They scratched the grass to bare ground in a day, even though I let them free range for half the day! We now have a big, sturdy, stationary coop and large covered run, so they have plenty of space even in winter.

    I think they'd be fine if you move them to a separate coop for winter, and switched back to the movable one for summer, if you want. It'll take them a few days to adjust, but they'll be fine.
     
  5. angelavl

    angelavl Out Of The Brooder

    29
    0
    24
    May 22, 2012
    Western Washington
    Yes, that's my coop. It's about 4X6 on the bottom. They enjoy it and don't seem to crowded right now. But I can see them getting cramped over the winter.
     
  6. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    If you wrapped that in plastic at the bottom with some room for ventilation, it would help entice them out. You couldn't move it over the winter if you had snow though, unless you ploughed out the snow before setting it down. They may have such cabin fever that the snow won't bother them, but mine rarely ventured outside in the winter. Not even when treats were involved :p

    It's a cute coop, and looks bigger when you click on the image. Chickens should have 10sq ft per bird during the day. At night 4 birds will easily be accommodated in the top part. Is there ventilation up above? I like how it would shade them. Very cool. I'd love something like that for my broodies. Did you build it yourself?
     
  7. bruceha2000

    bruceha2000 Overrun With Chickens

    4,261
    1,466
    311
    Apr 19, 2012
    NW Vermont
    I would say yes, if you have the space .... and the time .... and the money, especially the money [​IMG]

    Sometimes my 12 will all be laying around in a very small area but other times they spread out. I think they would go stir crazy if they didn't have more room. Their coop is 9'5 x 12' x 7' high (old horse stall) with 27 ' of roost (2' and 4' off the ground). There food is suspended and the water is via nipples on a pipe attached to the wall so they have pretty much the whole floor area if they don't want to be on the roosts.

    They are RIGHT at the door when we go to let them out into the 8'x12' indoor run. From there they have a ramp up to a missing window pane with a wooden door to go into the 18'x18' outdoor run (uncovered, 4' fence). If they don't want to be outside and we don't leave the gate open, they will more often than not, fly the 4' fence in the barn alley (their run) and wander around the rest of the alley - about twice the area of their indoor run.

    Now some of the reason they want out might be because it is relatively dark in the coop, being the front of it is 8' from the windows and the back is 100% wood. The sides and front are wood up to the 4' mark. But they sure do want to see and be in the "wider world".
     
  8. angelavl

    angelavl Out Of The Brooder

    29
    0
    24
    May 22, 2012
    Western Washington
    Sorry, it's actually 4x 7.5 at the base. When they are upstairs (dusk to dawn) they all snuggle up together. When they are down stairs they spread out. I do worry b/c my feeder and water bucket take up some room. I let them out part of the day to run around in the yard and they are always eager to come out! I guess I read somewhere that hens need 4 sq feet per bird - which would be 16 sq feet for mine. Technically they have 28 in this coop. But I know they will take as much room as they can get. We have 2 Buff Orpingtons and they are considerably larger than my other two.

    I don't really have extra garage space, but that's why I was thinking of going the cattle panel/tarp route. In fact I was thinking I could just park their tractor inside of a cattle panel hut (similar to this https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/172799/our-hoop-house-chicken-tractor), take the lower doors off, and then I wouldn't have to build a new nesting area at all.

    Of course, to justify all that work.... I might have to get some more chicks next spring!!
     
  9. angelavl

    angelavl Out Of The Brooder

    29
    0
    24
    May 22, 2012
    Western Washington
    Yes, we found plans online and built it ourselves. Its very easy to clean - the roof comes off. At the very peak there is ventilation and also the way the doors rest on the sides there is ventilation. So, it didn't seem to get stuffy. (Though, we are in Western Washington - so high temps are 80's-90's. Rarely over 100.)
     
  10. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I love that hoop coop/run! How about this? Build the hoop thing, and since your girls are used to the tractor, just set that inside permanently as their housing - you could cover the lower half of the tractor w/clear plastic (as was mentioned already) to expand their "housing" space. The only thing I didn't care for with that particular hoop run was the chicken wire as security - lots of animals can go through chicken wire pretty easily.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by