First Timer - Coop and Run Anxiety

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by INFORG, Jun 13, 2011.


    INFORG New Egg

    Feb 4, 2011
    Moved to the country a few months ago and promised the family we'd get a coop built. There is a monthly market near us where they have a lot of laying hens for sale, so I promised that I'd get something built before the next one (now only 6 days from now). I am getting close to finishing, but I am really running on a tight schedule. I just wanted to run some of my concerns/plans by some of you folks with experience. I've been reading the forum for some time now.

    We have an outbuilding that is 2/3rd concrete slab, and 1/3 was a dirt floor that had a couple of horse stalls. The concrete portion has been covered with mats and a make-shift gym that we use. Rather than buy or build a shed outside, I decided to repurpose one of the horse stalls, using the wood from two to create a 12X12 coop 8' tall. There are two windows in this stall. I stacked up the 2 stall doors to make one large entry door from inside the outbuilding to inside the coop. Overhead, I just strung 1" hex wire. The box portion of the coop is completed, but I still need to add perches, nest boxes, and a pop door. There is a large light overhead, and electrical outlets near the coop.

    The dirt floor in the coop tends to get damp when it rains. Not so much from leaks, but from seepage. For this reason, I have put down a 3" layer of pea gravel, and plan to put shavings on top of that. My first point of anxiety is whether this area is going to stay too damp and cause too much odor inside the outbuilding? I have already resigned myself to the fact that I may have to build something new outside if it happens, but any advice here is appreciated.

    Outside, I have put down and buried hardware cloth around the exterior of the outbuilding around the entire perimeter where there is not a concrete slab. I contructed most of my pen outside (approximately 24X36 X 6' tall) using 4X4 posts, 1X6 boards, and 1" hex wire again. Because of uneven and sloping ground, I tried to keep the fence fairly level, and use an apron around the pen of more 1" hex wire. It looks fairly nice, but because the outbuilding and a nearby white horse fence are at different angles, I had to make something that isn't a true rectangle. I put some interior posts up ( I have a few more to go) and then I plan to cover the top with more 1" hex wire and then cover about half the pen with a large camo net to create some shade.

    I am getting pretty worked up over finishing this pen in time and having it look OK despite some wierd angles. Somebody tell me not to worry about it [​IMG]

    I am trying to make the set-up as predator proof as feasible. My main concern during the day is hawks, which is why I will put wire on the top. Other predators will mostly be at night (coyote, fox, raccoon, dogs). I'm pretty secure with the hardware cloth around the building perimeter and they will be in at night, but I still question whether I should have gone heavier on the pen construction?

    I will try to post some pictures later, and I can always make some changes as time goes on. I really just need to get something that is workable enough to bring home some chickens next Sunday.

    Thanks for this site, and all of the information I have been able to find along the way. A couple of other questions:

    1. How high to place nest boxes and perches? (coop is 8' tall)
    2. Feed and water inside or out or both?
    3. Helpful hints for keeping coop dry and odor free?
  2. Sonic Chicken

    Sonic Chicken Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 13, 2011
    Sacramento, California
    Well, considering people keep chickens in old cars (successfully!), I think you're going to be just fine and so are the chickens! The nest boxes can be about 12" off the ground, more if you don't like bending over to collect eggs. The roosting perches should be higher than the nest boxes but not directly over them or you'll get a lot of poop in the place you want them to lay eggs. For the floor, I recommend concrete block caps, about 80 cents a piece at the Home Depot and much cheaper than paver stones or patio blocks. You can level the ground, lay them down and have a nice, slip-resistant surface to clean with a broom or hose. I used them to make a path through the dirt yard to the coop instead of pouring concrete. They work great and you can pick them up and change the pattern if you wish.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2011
  3. latebloomer

    latebloomer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 10, 2011
    green mountain state
    where did you say you're located?

    INFORG New Egg

    Feb 4, 2011
    Quote:Just north of Topeka, Kansas
  5. bryan99705

    bryan99705 Chillin' With My Peeps

    How about some pics, you lost me on a couple points.

    Are you calling chicken wire "hex wire"? If so, the coons will walk right thru it!

    The pea gravel will do great in the wet floor area but skip the chips, they just absorb and mildew.

    Keep the feed inside to keep it dry and if you hang it abouut breast high for the birds they won't waste as much to spillage.

    3 - 4 feet up for a roost is fine and is not so high as to risk a injured hen from jumping down and colliding with something.

    The best way to keep the coop from being smelly. keep it dry!
  6. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Yeah...if you have water/dampness issues inside the housing/stall, I'd skip the bedding, at least until you find out whether the pea gravel will keep the water at bay. If you don't have bedding in there, I'd probably opt for lower roosts, because the birds won't have anything to cushion their landing. Or you could do chicken ladders. Your nest boxes just need to be lower than your roosts by a few inches so that they'll prefer the roosts. Some set them on the ground, other's elevate. If they're elevated at least 18" then you lose no floor space, because feeders/waterers fit beneath.

    With chicken wire, make sure your pop door is shut each night, because nocturnal predators have no problems going through chicken wire. Of course that means you need to make sure the building is secured at night too, since it sounds like the stall is open to the rest of the building (through chicken wire).

    I agree that pictures would definitely help us help you...

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