From Dog House to Hen House (where will my husband sleep now?) - Recommendations please!!

LilyBird

In the Brooder
May 20, 2015
80
19
36
Ontario Canada
Hi all :) We are brand new to chickens but have decided we are going to get 6 hens and turn our old doghouse into a hen house! We built our two spoiled rotten dogs a huge dog house a few years ago and they have NEVER been inside it. They do like laying on top of it though. We took off the front thinking they might like to just chill inside and be able to see out of the yard. NOPE. As you can see, they prefer to lay outside it on the ground.



So, now that the front is no longer there, that's our starting base. (Of course, now I'm wishing we didn't take the front off!!) Here is the plans I've drawn up after reading a little bit in the learning centre here on BYC. :)




So here's where I need some help. Is there anything I'm missing that I should include before we start building the coop? Is there anything you now wish you had of done before you started building? Is there something I should switch up in my design? (Ex...putting the nest boxes on a different wall? Putting the roost bars elsewhere, etc.)

I want to make a run for them but I'm not sure where I want to put it. The way I've designed the coop, I need access to both sides of the coop, so the run would have to come out in front, but then it would take up more space in our backyard. Thought on this?

Also, here are some questions I have regarding my coop and chickens in general. If you have the time to answer some, please do! I have a 10 month old baby (her name is Lily) and not a lot of time to read! :)

Two important things to know about me...I live in central Ontario where we get LOTS of snow and the weather gets very cold. (It can frequently reach -30 degrees C, or -22 F) AND....we are building this as LOW cost as possible. My husband has access to skids and other free stuff from his work, so if we can do the whole thing for free, we would be delighted! (The dog house was an old skid, fence boards left over from building our wood fence and stairs from our old deck).

#1 - Will chickens fly over a 5 foot chain link fence? Or will they stay in my backyard? (1/2 acre)
#2 - How tall would you make the coop? We will add posts underneath it to raise it off the ground...how high would you make it and then how high would you make the run?
#3 - In the pictures of the dog house you can see slots at the top where the side doesn't reach the roof, is this enough ventilation? Or should we add more?
#4 - We're going to use DLM - hoping to empty and clean the coop in the spring and fall. What do you do with the waste if you don't have room for a compost pile?
#5 - I was hoping to place the coop next to the shed in the back corner of the yard...is there a specific direction the coop should be facing? Maybe I should put the back of the coop against the fence instead? We do get a lot of wind from the west. Since the shed blocks any gusts from the south, and the shop protects from the east, maybe that would be best? I need experienced chicken keepers advice! lol
#6 - Where should food and water be kept? Inside the coop or in the run?
# 7 - Is it okay for the coop and run to be in complete shade? The back corner of our yard has little grass as it is (mostly dandelions) and we never go back there...which is why my husband wants to put it back there...and because its further from the house for the smell).
#8 - What is the best way to provide water in the winter? (I'm thinking minimal cost)
#9 - What breed of chicken would you suggest for us? We want good egg layers, and we don't want a rooster. (We have neighbours that may not appreciate the wake up call). We have three dogs and a baby and we live in a rural town.

Thank you to all of you who answer any of my questions and offer any advice on my coop! I'm excited to get this done so we can get our hens!!!
 

Cheep N Peep

Songster
Apr 9, 2015
368
213
146
Castle Rock, Colorado
My Coop
My Coop
#1 - Will chickens fly over a 5 foot chain link fence? Or will they stay in my backyard? (1/2 acre) - It depends on the breed. Some chickens, like Andalusians, won't see it as a deterrent. More like an inconvenience.

#2 - How tall would you make the coop? We will add posts underneath it to raise it off the ground...how high would you make it and then how high would you make the run? - The coop bottom should be about waist height of the person who will be doing most of the cleaning. This will make it easy to scoop out soiled litter, I should think. You will want the run to be tall enough to walk in. You do not have to add a roof, but something like wild bird netting to keep the chickens from flying out will be appreciated in the future. :)

#3 - In the pictures of the dog house you can see slots at the top where the side doesn't reach the roof, is this enough ventilation? Or should we add more? - That should be enough, but if you are worried, you can always add a removable plexiglass window.

#6 - Where should food and water be kept? Inside the coop or in the run? - Food and water will take up floorspace in the coop. You can hang the food and water outside under the coop, or in a part of the run that is covered to keep out rain, which will be used more in rainy weather when the hens want outside but don't want to get wet.

# 7 - Is it okay for the coop and run to be in complete shade? The back corner of our yard has little grass as it is (mostly dandelions) and we never go back there...which is why my husband wants to put it back there...and because its further from the house for the smell). - that should be fine, and will help in the summer. However, it will make it cooler in the winter, too, so make sure part of the run, at least, gets some direct sunlight for most of the day. That probably means making the run a little bigger than you wanted, but the hens will enjoy the extra room, and you wont have to enlarge it later.


#9 - What breed of chicken would you suggest for us? We want good egg layers, and we don't want a rooster. (We have neighbours that may not appreciate the wake up call). We have three dogs and a baby and we live in a rural town.- MyPetChicken has an intersting chicken breed tool that may help you to decide: http://www.mypetchicken.com/chicken-breeds/which-breed-is-right-for-me.aspx
I would go with these breeds as they lay well, are cold-hardy, and lay during the winter: Black Australorps; Delawars; Orpingtons; Plymouth Rocks; Rhode Island Reds (watch for frost bite); Welsummers, and Wyandottes.


I hope this helps. I'm sorry I wasn't able to answer all your questions! :)
 

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