Feedback wanted on coop plans

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Vashjir, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. Vashjir

    Vashjir Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 1, 2012
    Richfield, MN
    So I'm planing a 3 hen coop/chicken tractor for this spring and I'd love some feedback. The dimensions will either be 4x6 (with a 2x4 coop) or 4x8 (with a 2x6 coop) and everything not sheathed in plywood will be covered in .5" hardware cloth. It should be a 4' equilateral triangle from the end to utilize the most out of 8' 2"x4"s and 4'x8' sheets of plywood. The enclosed coop will have one end dedicated to a nesting box. I haven't decided which end the handles will go on and which the wheels will be on. I plan on using a 'flip under' style wheel attachment.

    Here is a google doc of my incredibly imprecise plans
    https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1jwCKuy5Aqf3-pEtV6u2fz8hteD8UDMyg6TjTM8gZ7rs/edit


    A few other notes;
    I'm from Minnesota so it gets cold here, although my backyard is fairly well sheltered.
    I do get possums, raccoons, coyotes and birds of prey from time to time, even though I'm in the dense suburbs less than 10 min from downtown Minneapolis.
    I'm planning on moving this every day or other day to give my hens natural grazing opportunities.

    Any and all comments, questions and advice are welcome![​IMG]
     
  2. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 4, 2012
    Northern Colorado
    Welcome to BYC! Glad to have you aboard :)

    I'm afraid I couldn't figure out much from the plans...not that they're "bad", I just don't see it all put together, LOL. Sometimes my brain functions in strange ways. Are you limited to 3 chickens where you live? If not, I'd keep "chicken math" in mind...most of us start with x number and before long we want more ;) We're at our maximum here so we didn't have to take into consideration that we'd end up getting more. I want more, but can't actually have more, so our number is stable.

    In the short time we've had chickens, one thing I've learned is that more space is better. Run space should be at least 10 sf per bird, coop space should be a minimum of 4 sf per bird. Our coop is on the small side and if we had it to do again, I'd make it a bit bigger. The good thing is that other than going in to lay or to sleep, they spend all their time outside. Ours is also portable with a portable run and we move it about every 3 days or so. That way the grass doesn't get totally wrecked and comes back nicely by the time the rig gets moved around the yard and back to the same spot again. We learned pretty quickly that we had to provide them with a dust bath...they were digging holes in the turf! We took one of the shorter Rubbermaid Totes and filled it about 1/3 full of soil, sand and peat moss. They love it, and it's really necessary for the health of their skin and feathers. Once we did that, they quit digging holes in the grass. We put the lid on at night in case of rain and it works very well for us.

    Is here a totally enclosed coop area? They'll do fine even in a MN winter (I'm from Winnipeg, so I know what kind of weather ya get!), as long as you can keep it draft free. They will definitely need good ventilation though...up at the top where the wind won't blow ON them.

    We looked at an A frame design as well, and decided to go a different route because we wanted an actual "coop" area that was sturdy and decent sized. Our winters are generally pretty mild, but at our altitude we get some hot temps and the sun is really strong in the summer. We ended up insulating against the heat rather than for it...IMO intense heat is harder on chickens than cold (up to a point, of course). So what we finally decided was to make the run and coop in two different pieces that can each be moved. Each piece can be moved by one person, although with 2 we can simply pick up the run and walk it to the new spot rather than dragging it. The coop is built on 4 x 4's and is raised from the ground by about 20 inches or so. The run is made of wire and metal conduit pipe and sits up next to the opening under the coop. So far, it's worked really well for us. We kept the ventilation up near the top of the roof, and once the trap door is pulled up the coop is very secure. We open it at first light and leave it open till the girls put themselves to bed. Then we pull it up for the night.

    Although we have foxes, raccoons and skunks in the area, we don't get them in our yard, so we didn't have to make the run ultra secure. We did enclose the top though because we do get hawks from time to time. We don't let them free range in the yard because we also have 3 dogs. I doubt any of them would "attack" but they would be interested enough that they'd make the girls really nervous. Plus, I just feel better if they're enclosed. The run is about 80 sf, plus the 20 sf under the coop itself, so they have plenty of room in it. They have over 15 sf each.


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    Here's our rig. Probably much more info than you wanted, but you can ignore it if you like, LOL
     
  3. Vashjir

    Vashjir Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 1, 2012
    Richfield, MN
    Thanks Mickey, sorry the drawings aren't tottaly clear, but it will basically be an 8' long triangular prism with 4' walls and floor and with 6' of the top half being fully enclosed (2' walls and floor). I was unsure of how much run room each chicken needs, but 4'x8' will give 32sq' for 3 birds, so I'll go with that rather than 4'x6'. That will make the coop portion 2x6 which will give 4sq' per bird.
    I'll be putting in plenty of toggle-able ventilation, so I'm not worried about overheating, especially in my shady back yard, but I want the space to be tight enough that three birds can keep each other warm at -20 Fahrenheit which we get for a few days most winters. I also need to be able to move the whole setup by myself, so overall size matters.
    Unfortunately 3 is the limit for adult chickens by city ordinance here in Richfield, so while I may be tempted I can't expand further.
     
  4. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 4, 2012
    Northern Colorado
    Wasn't necessarily your plans, Vashjir...sometimes my perceptions are a bit skewed and I have trouble relating 2d to 3d :)

    Sounds like you have your space well planned and should be just right for the number of chickens you'll have. You'll likely only need 1 nesting box for the three, so that might give you a bit more room inside. We're restricted to 6 here, so I'm safe from chicken math too :)

    Looks to me like it'll be a great set up! Do remember that they'll need ventilation even in the cold...maybe even especially then. They generate a surprising amount of heat and condensation...more than I would ever have thought! With plenty of litter and each other, they should be fine through the cold.
     

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