Do I need a coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by sprouts, Mar 25, 2017.

  1. sprouts

    sprouts In the Brooder

    Dec 5, 2016
    I have five hens near Seattle. In my backyard I have a 14' x 16' run with two walls made from my existing wooden fence on the property line and the other two walls made out of chainlink to enclose the run. On top of the run is bird netting and in the center is an old coop that needs to be replaced. The run is under trees that have be trimmed back to provide more light.

    I'm wondering if the birds even need a coop and what does it provide? I'm wondering if it would be better on just concentrating on the run if it would not only be cheaper and easier to maintain, but also roomier for the birds.

    Things I'm thinking about doing:
    - Predator proofing the run
    - Using a very thick layer of mulch as the floor of the run
    - Providing several 2"x2" roosts at several heights in the run at last 2' off the ground that are covered to provide protection from the rain
    - Mounting two nest boxes onto the wooden fence
    - Planting mulberry bushes around the outside perimeter of the chain link fence where the hens can eat what grows through

    Do you guys have any thoughts on this?
  2. 0wen

    0wen Songster

    Mar 25, 2016
    Southwest Virginia
    You'll probably want something to allow them to get out of the wind/rain/etc...
  3. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Songster

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    The coop optimally would provide protection against the elements as well as an extra layer of protection against predators when the birds are most vulnerable at night. But is it 100% necessary? Probably not - you can argue that open air coops would be similar to a run the way you're wanting to set it up. I would add that you'd still want to provide some solid coverage from the sides you commonly get winds/storms from as well as the top of the roost area, as driving rain is going to make life pretty miserable for birds and just a roof overhead isn't going to keep them dry.
  4. Sophocles

    Sophocles In the Brooder

    Mar 15, 2017
    My parents had a few bantam chickens that'd keep escaping their runs (no experience with chickens) and they eventually gave up on trying to keep them in a run+coop. We had 3 generations of chickens that'd spend their nights in a large Holly tree/shrub, with plenty of foliage to shield them from wind and rain.
    We lived in Belgium so I think the winters are comparable to Seatlles, the coldest nights being around -10°C.
    Afaik they thrived well enough. They slept on branches 3 meters high so if any fox ever passed he never had a chance to get to them.
    Mind you their production was never that good, but I'm not sure how much of that had to do with weather conditions or the chickens' characteristics.

    I think you -could- do it, depending on why you're keeping chickens and what breed you'll get. Obviously given the cold winters you need a hardy breed, and expect egg production to suffer a lot in the winter - the chickens will be spending their energy on keeping warm, not reproducing.
    Make sure that you not only provide them with cover from the rain but also shelter them from wind.

    If you don't want to spend much time and effort on a coop you might still want to set up a simple 4-wall shack with no door and high enough you can walk in it to clean etc

    Without a coop, you'll need to 100% predator proof your run! Make sure nothing can get under, over, or through!

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