First Time Chicken Coop and Run Build

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Zyxthior, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. Zyxthior

    Zyxthior Out Of The Brooder

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    So this Spring I plan on getting 4-6 'Golden Comet' Pullets to raise for eggs (I love eggs....). I've be reading through this site and the forums, and I own and have read through a portion of Storey's "Raising Chicken" book as well to get ideas on Coop and Run ideas.

    I live in Maine and temperature can get pretty cold, and there can be cold snaps where the temp gets below 0F (then again, you might have a could 70F days in January.....New England weather is 'finicky').

    Right now I'm look at a 4'x6' Footprint for the Coop, with 3 nestboxes inside (on the 4' wall). I have some spare R19 leftover from insulating my garage so I'm toying with the idea or insulating the Coop Walls (and of course adding 1/4" OSB or Plywood to the interior....maybe even 1/8" Luan...to help keep the little buggers warm in the winter. Also planing on have a 1" x 12"droppings board under the perch that I can clean off daily to help.

    The Attached Run will be roofed and will be approximately 6' x 12'. My goal is for them to use this run for the winter, and weekdays, and let them Free Range on my property when I'm around (I have just under 3 acres) and let them have fun with the ticks and other insects about.

    My main question is with the Run itself...namely....cleaning and care of the run. From all that I've read, the Coop itself via the Deep Litter Method and DE only needs cleaning once a year, but how often and how do you clean the run? Right now the area that I plan on building the coop and run is just underbrush that needs to be cleared out this winter/spring. What I'm reading so far would suggest that I put a couple of inches of Sand down in the run, and then rake in some lime every so often...Does the run itself never need to be 'overhauled' like the Bedding in the coop? (I.e. does nature take care of keeping the run clean with a little lime)?

    The goal here is to keep the chickens healthy AND to not have a stinky run...
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    The main thing with the run is to keep it dry. If you can keep it dry, you should have to do very little as far as cleaning or maintenance. Pat has a page on Muddy Runs you might find interesting. It might help you avoid problems instead of having to fix them.

    Muddy Run
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-fix-a-muddy-run

    The other thing that helps is to make sure it is as large as you can stand. The rule of thumb is a minimum of 10 square feet per chicken. I went way above that so I cannot tell you how much of a problem one close to the rule of thumb minimum would be. I just know mine is not a problem.
     
  3. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    If your coop is small you may not wish to use deep liter method, and really, with so few birds if you clean daily you'll never have ammonia or moisture to worry about.
    Take a look at my winter link below, you and I are in a similar situation and I have golden comets, too.



    And will you be able to stand up in the coop? I agree about that- It makes such a difference when cleaning and changing out the water...[​IMG]

    In fact you're going to a lot of trouble to consult about your build and I'm wondering if you would be happier with a bigger coop with full storage for feed in the building. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2009
  4. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Yep, I agree, go with a bigger coop! 4 by 6 would be okay for 4 hens, but a bit tight for more than that. You would want to clean the chicken poo out about every other day, and change the litter completely once a month in a small coop like that. My first coop was 4 by 4 and about right for 2-3 hens, but really awful to clean or work on.

    Insulating is a great idea, and you won't regret in on those cold and hot nights. With insulation, you won't need to heat and risk a coop fire.

    Regarding the run, most here use sand, and rake out the poo on a regular basis. I use wood chip, and pull a lot of it out two times per year, and replace it--I am very happy with the wood chip.

    Remember, many of us MEANT to have 4 hens, and somehow ended up with more, even much more!

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2009
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I agree with others who suggested a slightly larger coop. Most building materials are sold 8' standard anyway, so why waste materials??? I have 5 girls in a 6 x 8 coop, and wish I'd made it 8 x 8. It's well insulated. With the cold weather hitting, my girls are spending a LOT of time inside (their choice, I leave the pop door open for them during the day). So especially now I wish I'd made my coop larger. I can attest to clean-up being pretty easy with just a couple of birds. In nice weather, clean-up literally takes 2 minutes for me (scrape dropping board, pick up soiled bedding...replace a little once a week or so). In winter, when they're inside a lot more, it takes maybe five minutes, because they soil a lot more of the bedding.
    Small gravel base w/sand on top seems to be the way to go in smaller runs. Good luck with your spring project. I know you'll have fun!!
     
  6. kman

    kman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    i also agree with others go bigger, after all chickens are very addictive and you will want more soon, my first coop was a 10' x 5' i was adding on to it in less than a month made it a 34'x17' just added on again to make a total 44'x25' and will be adding own again in the near future i can see it come in already. maybe you will never be as addicted as i am, but it still would not hurt to go a little bigger, adding on is a pain in the butt it is and always will be easier to do it all at one time then their will be no figure in out how to join the roofs
     
  7. SandyK

    SandyK Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My coop is that size or maybe a little bigger. We bought it in July this past summer. Already, I'm talking about building another one bigger come spring. My run is fine for the girls at 25'x50'. They have plenty of room to play, plus a few trees for shade and a sandbox which they love.
     
  8. Zyxthior

    Zyxthior Out Of The Brooder

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    Ridgerunner - The area that I"m going to build the coop on is slopped so drainage shouldn't be an issue (most of my land is slopped...not looking forward to leveling the area by hand....already done that twice for a shed and a swingset). This drainage, combined with a Roof on the Run itself, and me hauling in some gravel+sand to help with the leveling, should hopefully be sufficient. At the moment the "roofed" run will be approximately 6' x 12' giving me 72sq feet....so for 4 hens that's 18 sq. feet per chicken....almost twice the size of the minimum.

    LynneP - Looks like we definately share the same climate--good to know the Golden Comet's are good birds for this. I completely agree that bigger is better...but bigger also involves much higher material costs...which I'm trying to keep to keep down. I honestly only believe I'll ever only have 4 hens...my logic is thus.....2 eggs every 3 days....or roughly 4 eggs per week per Chicken....which for four Chickens is about 16 eggs per week. Our family goes through just over a dozen eggs a week...so that's my logic in keeping the flock small. (I'm not sure what I'd do with the excess eggs.) With the current 4 x 6 x 4 size I wouldn't be able to stand up in the coop...but I'm assuming (and please correct me if I'm wrong as I'm all new to this) that if I'm only doing a complete cleaning once a year in the Spring (i.e. Remove all Bedding and sanitize the interior) that it wouldn't bother me too much. I'm assuming that even though the Coop is small (4x6), if I'm washing off the droppings board under roost perch every day (or every other day) via a special access door to the droppings board, that would keep the rest of the bedding fresh to last a year.

    Chookchick - Would I need to do a complete cleaning once a month with a coop that small? I was assuming with a 4 x 6 footprint, that gives me 24 sq feet of room, or 6 sq feet per chicken....50% more than the minimum of 4 sq. Feet of Coop space.

    teach1rusl - I agree that most building Material is sold in 8ft standard lengths....I was looking at it from the perspective of the Roofing...a 6ft long shed would allow me to use a single 4x8 piece of plywood about 8 inches of overhang on both ends. If I go bigger, with an 4 x 8 footprint...and do a 12/5 trussed roof....then I'm only using about 5 ft long pieces of plywood for roofing (wasting a 3 x 4 piece for each piece of roofing). While that wouldn't be significant for just the coop itself....if I'm running the roof over the run as well...then I end up with a lot of waste....

    kman - LOL...I'm still having a hard time getting my wife convinced that having chickens would be a fun idea. If I started building a 44'x25' structure (which is pretty close to the footprint of our house!) she'd kill me.

    SandyK - How many Hens do you have?

    Thank you all for your responses and help!!!
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2009
  9. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm chuckling because excess eggs will never be a problem! Well, you'll see...
    About cleaning- Chickens make a dropping approximately every 20 minutes, and some are the consistency of molasses (about 5%). For a small number of birds it is definitely better to take out what you can daily. The ammonia load in a small coop can become quite substantial and cause respiratory distress. It takes only seconds, really! It also means you are checking daily for disturbances like mold, or wet spots and drafts. You'll need to top up the nest box frequently too. One of those precautionary activities...you know. I bet that using all of the 2/4's at 8' will pay off in the end- less cutting and a comfortable place for you among the hens. Nobody ever stops at 4, by the way! [​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2009
  10. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Regarding coop cleaning--you might be able to get away with more time between litter replacement with a poop board (I didn't have a poop board, I just picked up poo under the roost every other day or so). But it is very important to have a nice clean coop when it is that small so they are not breathing in ammonia fumes from their poo. It really isn't a big deal with a smaller coop, except that it is hard to reach the back when it is 4 ft. wide.

    As far as materials, perhaps you could cut down on how much of the run is covered, to save for a bigger roof. I use a tarp to cover my run, but you may not be able to do that with more snow. You will want to have SOME overhang on the front and back of the coop anyway. If you do a shed roof (entire roof on one slant) the roof is really easy to build. You can use rolled roofing to cut down on roofing costs. Hopefully soon I will get my BYC page done, with drawings, to show how I did mine. A walk in coop is SOOO much nicer, but elevated would be okay if you can access all areas (lots of hatches) from outside, then you can use the under-coop area as covered run.
     

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