First Coop build: Pictures and questions

Toehead

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 14, 2014
44
1
24
Littleton, Ma
Hello! My name is Brendan, and this is my first post. My wife and I have recently decided to get chickens (we have 3 red stars, about 2 weeks old at this point) and I just completed my coop. For my first carpentry project, I think it came out pretty well.

All framed out: Made out of mostly old shipping crates from work.


roosts




All siding attached, I used T111 from home depot.



Fencing up, coop stained:


Wire fencing up ( welded wire outer, poultry net inner with a buried skirt around the exterior)



The coop is wired for power (15 amp 120V) and has a light on a timer and an outlet for the water heater in the winter.


The ladies:



Now for the question: I am not very experienced with raising chickens, and I would like some constructive criticism of the setup. Is there anything that I should work on to make it more secure? I live in a rural area, with some coyotes and other critters that love chickens.


My main concern is hawks. We have a large red that as circling yesterday as I was putting up the wire fencing. The run is an open top. Do you think I am playing with fire? Should I make a shelter besides the open coop door?
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
24,596
13,160
707
Southeast Louisiana
You are playing with fire just by having chickens. Practically everything wants to eat them or the eggs. More people seem to have problems with dogs than anything else, but that doesn’t mean a lot of chickens are not killed by coyotes, foxes, owls, hawks, raccoons, possums, skunks, weasels, bobcats, mink, or other things. Many things, like snakes, eat the eggs or baby chicks. I have mine in a large electric netting enclosure with no top. Hawks fly over regularly but I haven’t lost one to a hawk yet. Other people have. I did lose one to an owl last fall when I got back late from watching a play. It landed in that netting and walked into the coop.

Many people totally free range with practically no protection and seldom have problems. Some people have pretty secure coops and runs broken into. These things just don’t come with guarantees one way or another.

That fence looks pretty low. It doesn’t look like it would be hard for many things to just jump over, let alone climb. Another problem I kind of expect you to have. Chickens love to perch. If they see a flat surface like that on top of the fence, they will naturally want to hop up there. There is no telling which side they will hop down on. Once they are out, they don’t know to get back in the way they got out.

If you cover it, I suggest you make it tall enough that you can walk around comfortably in there. As a minimum I’d raise the sides. You can take some stiff wire and attach that to the top two horizontals so it sticks up a foot or two above your top rail. Attach it to the inside so they won’t try to fly up to that top rail anyway. If it is stiff enough, it will stand by itself. Another advantage to doing that is that if something starts climbing it, that wire might bend back because of their weight and make it harder for something to climb in.

I’ve done that and it doesn’t look all that bad. If you paint it black, it kind of disappears from sight anyway.
 

Toehead

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 14, 2014
44
1
24
Littleton, Ma
Thanks for the reply. The fence is 5 feet tall, which I was hoping was tall enough. Do you think the red sex links that we have will be able to fly well enough to get up there when they are grown?



That's a good idea about the wire perimeter, and is something that I think I can handle putting up if we start to have problems.

For the hawks, I've been reading and I think I might try stringing some line from the fence up to the ridge of the barn to act as a deterrent.


Thanks for the suggestions, keep them coming!
 

efalls

In the Brooder
5 Years
Feb 12, 2014
42
1
26
yes mine are living in my barn right now and 5 ft is no problem for them to perch. especially when they are young and flighty. you will need to cover you run from birds of prey as well. I made mine an A frame to the walls or also the roof, and the chickens dont need much head room in the run, as long as you can get in to clean. maybe just a center post and some chicken wire or netting
draped over your run?
 

Toehead

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 14, 2014
44
1
24
Littleton, Ma
Maybe I will frame a "lid" out of gray PVC and use bird netting. That way I can just remove it when I go to clean.


-Brendan
 

Toehead

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 14, 2014
44
1
24
Littleton, Ma
Question: if I let the chickens out of the pen through the barn ( we were talking about letting them have limited freedom right before dark when we get home from work), will they be able to find their way back ?
 

Aacre

Songster
6 Years
Jan 9, 2014
651
55
123
Western Slope, Colorado
You could always make sure they are good and fat, that way they can't jump/fly 5 ft. up.

On a serious note, I have heard that clipping their wing feathers can help keep them from jumping/flying too high. I haven't done this myself, even though I have a black sex link that will jump/fly the 6 ft. tall fence enclosure. I don't really care if she does get out because their run is enclosed by the back yard fence. So I don't worry about them being attacked by dogs and my dogs are somewhat supervised when they are out.
 

efalls

In the Brooder
5 Years
Feb 12, 2014
42
1
26
Once they get used to their surrounding they seem to find home ok. mine are only a few months old now and living in my barn. i let them out around the yard now that it is warming up but when i go out and start shoeing them back in, then all seem to run right for the door. keep the food and water in the coop and run so they will want to go back in after an hour or so. I am no expert just what I have noticed. I think your idea for a bird net top is perfect.
 
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