Feedback on our open-air design so far please :)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by catchthewind, Mar 11, 2011.

  1. catchthewind

    catchthewind Songster

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    Jan 27, 2011
    Vancouver Island
    We are hoping to start framing this this weekend, but I would love some feedback on what we have planned. We're using this old greenhouse:

    [​IMG]

    We were planning on keeping the frame, but after stripping the plastic and trellis off we've realized that a lot of the frame is rotting. So we're keeping the bottom log part and the base, but have to reframe it. Luckily, a carpenter friend is coming out to help us out. The roof will likely be shingled as we have shingled from when our roof was done.

    You can click the pictures to see them bigger:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    They are not quite to scale, as we changed our minds on the height after drawing up the plans. The frame that is there now is 5 feet tall on the sides and 7 1/2 in the middle. We're thinking of making it 5'8" on the sides and 8'2' in the middle (which happens to work out so that the wood we're buying is better utilized, as well as giving us more room to work since we're both tall). Is it okay to have it so tall or will being shorter be better as far as keeping it warm? We're in the Pacific Northwest. We get some snow, but not a lot and usually only for a week max at a time. We rarely get freezing temperatures during the day, though it does get below freezing at night.

    The first picture show the front. I love the idea of open-air coops, so am hoping to somewhat follow that idea. I actually have the open-air coop book supposed to be coming in the library, but it could be a few more weeks and I have 8-week-old chicks in the brooder, so we need to get this built soon! The front side is facing west, and our winds tend to be south-west, is this a problem? We plan to overhang the roof around a foot (give or take, we'll get our carpenter friend's advice on this). The two square sides on either side of the door we hope to be able to screw plexiglass over top of in the winter, so then it would only be open above the door. Will this be okay or too drafty when it's windy?

    There are two views of the south side (one in second picture and one in third picture). The third picture I have 8 ft of wall (which would use a 4x8 sheet quite nicely), and then 2 feet of hardware cloth which again we could close up with plexiglass in the winter. The second picture is just solid wall all along. Which would you suggest? We would do something similar on the north side too.

    We plan to put a 2 foot apron around the outside. We're undecided about the floor still. Right now, it's a dirt floor. I'd like to do deep litter and love the idea of bugs and worms being able to come up through the floor, so want to keep the dirt floor. We may put hardware cloth down inside to protect against rats though.

    Also inside, I want to put a little loft along one side or along the back to store pine shavings and food and any other miscellaneous things I have. I assume this would need to be closed off so the chickens can't get in?

    The run will likely go at the back (east) side, though that's the one with the most trees close to the coop, but it would provide the best access to the three pastures we want to rotate them around.

    Thanks so much!
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2011
  2. catchthewind

    catchthewind Songster

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    Jan 27, 2011
    Vancouver Island
    Bump, anyone? I'm rethinking it a little again. Maybe it would be better to have the open air parts more on the west wall instead of the east one?
     
  3. Momagain1

    Momagain1 Songster

    Feb 13, 2011
    Central IL
    hardware cloth on the bottom or at least skirted would help prevent critters from digging up into it :)
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    So this building is, what, like 6x15' or something generally like that? (its footprint I mean)

    That is a reasonable aspect ratio for doing open front. Its height is good, you generally WANT reasonable height, shorter would not make it any warmer at all anyhow. If you are going to have open-front, you need to abandon any thought of having the coop stay any warmer than the outdoor temperature. The point is to have the air dry enough and wind-free enough that the chickens just "deal".

    HOWEVER, a couple of things.

    The two square sides on either side of the door we hope to be able to screw plexiglass over top of in the winter, so then it would only be open above the door. Will this be okay or too drafty when it's windy?

    Then that isn't really an open front house. You lose the benefits of it and will be back to worrying about humidity.

    The front side is facing west, and our winds tend to be south-west, is this a problem?

    Yes, it is somewhat, no matter whether you're going to build a REAL open-front coop or whether you're going to do something only seasonally-open-front as you've described.

    If it will be only seasonally open, then you will very likely find yourself needing to close most or all of that remaining W-side vent during cold winter winds (when it's around freezing or lower) and "punt" to downwind-side ventilation. During this season it will be a conventional closed coop and you will need to make sure you have sufficient downwind-side ventilation to keep humidity within bounds.

    OTOH if you wanted it to function as an actual fresh air style coop, then you MUST have the open front facing DOWNWIND from your usual winds (the winter ones anyhow). I would strongly suggest that you reverse your plans so that the *east* side is the open side. This may mean poorer visibility from the house (although plexiglass on the solid back of the house would help somewhat with that) or having the people door at the opposite end from what you planned; but you really need to do it if you want an open front design.

    A few other random comments:

    That should make a nice coop, of whatever sort you decide [​IMG]

    If you want loft-type storage, MAKE SURE to tell your carpenter friend and build this into your new framing, bags of shavings weigh a considerable amount and you need to make sure things are sturdily-enough built (the walls, not just the loft bit itself)

    As far as how to treat the long side w/r/t mesh and windows and solid wall, it just depends on how you want the coop to be... very open (that long side DOES have to be closed up basically-solid during winter, tho, even in an open end fresh-air type design!) or less so. And how much you want visibility and airflow vs worrying less about rain blowing in. I do not think there is one right answer, it just depends on what you want.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  5. Bossroo

    Bossroo Songster

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    Next step... start at step one !
     
  6. catchthewind

    catchthewind Songster

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    Jan 27, 2011
    Vancouver Island
    Thank you all! Momagain1, we will definitely have a 2' apron around the outside. Do we need one around both the run and the coop (including the portions of the coop in the run)?

    Quote:It is 10'x~8'.

    The two square sides on either side of the door we hope to be able to screw plexiglass over top of in the winter, so then it would only be open above the door. Will this be okay or too drafty when it's windy?

    Then that isn't really an open front house. You lose the benefits of it and will be back to worrying about humidity.

    The front side is facing west, and our winds tend to be south-west, is this a problem?

    Yes, it is somewhat, no matter whether you're going to build a REAL open-front coop or whether you're going to do something only seasonally-open-front as you've described.

    If it will be only seasonally open, then you will very likely find yourself needing to close most or all of that remaining W-side vent during cold winter winds (when it's around freezing or lower) and "punt" to downwind-side ventilation. During this season it will be a conventional closed coop and you will need to make sure you have sufficient downwind-side ventilation to keep humidity within bounds.

    OTOH if you wanted it to function as an actual fresh air style coop, then you MUST have the open front facing DOWNWIND from your usual winds (the winter ones anyhow). I would strongly suggest that you reverse your plans so that the *east* side is the open side. This may mean poorer visibility from the house (although plexiglass on the solid back of the house would help somewhat with that) or having the people door at the opposite end from what you planned; but you really need to do it if you want an open front design.​

    Thanks for all this Pat. In my bump comment above I meant that I was rethinking that we should have the open side on the east, not the west. I'm not so worried about visibility from the house. I think we'll put a big window on the north side instead of the south, and the north side is the one we see from the house. The door has to be on the west side, unless we redid that entire bottom part, which we don't want to do. It's nice and solid, stable, and level. So do you think with the size of the coop (8'x10') we could have a big open window on the west side year round and the chickens would be okay or should we scrap that idea altogether?

    That should make a nice coop, of whatever sort you decide [​IMG]

    Thank you. [​IMG] I hope the chickens think so too!

    If you want loft-type storage, MAKE SURE to tell your carpenter friend and build this into your new framing, bags of shavings weigh a considerable amount and you need to make sure things are sturdily-enough built (the walls, not just the loft bit itself)

    Okay, good to know. We may also put the storage under the nest boxes instead. We haven't quite decided on the layout inside yet.

    As far as how to treat the long side w/r/t mesh and windows and solid wall, it just depends on how you want the coop to be... very open (that long side DOES have to be closed up basically-solid during winter, tho, even in an open end fresh-air type design!) or less so. And how much you want visibility and airflow vs worrying less about rain blowing in. I do not think there is one right answer, it just depends on what you want.

    Good to know it would need to be closed up in the winter. We were actually considering making the actual coop 8x8 and have a 2x8 section that was just hardware cloth. There would be some sort of divider that could be closed up tight in winter but opened in the summer (so in the summer the coop would be the full 8x10). Not sure we're going to bother with that though. They'll be pastured on at least a quarter acre so it's not like they're not going to get fresh air. I just want them to be comfy and dry in the winter when it's a bit colder.​
     
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Hm. That is not ideal for an open-front coop -- it is too squareish (is that a word? well, now it is). OTOH you are not exactly living in the Arctic. I think if it were me I would still consider it worth trying, but for sure make the E end the open one, and plan to keep a close eye on draft conditions in the back of the house on windy days and be prepared to maybe narrow down the open end (perhaps block off one side of it) as needed, probably with experimentation before doing anything permanent.

    You know, though, I mean, even worst case scenario if for some reason you *couldn't* make it work as an open-front house -- and I do not believe that's real likly, I think you *can* in your location -- then it would still be no big deal, you just nail up another sheet of plywood and manage it as a closed coop. No biggie at all. So, I'd say go for it [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     

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