give me feedback on my ideas please?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by LadyLuck, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. LadyLuck

    LadyLuck In the Brooder

    Mar 15, 2012
    I have a flock of 12 peeps and am finalizing my plans so dh can build the coop while they are living in the brooder.

    We live in the country, high predator potential. A gazillion hawks everywhere, some eagles, have seen fox, assume that there are raccoons around . I live in southeast Virginia, mild winters, scorching summers, wet autumn and spring.

    I have a mobile run (tractor like but no coop on it, basically a long cage with open bottom and shaded area at one end. They will be taken out in this as often as possible to free-range and bug control.

    For the coop I plan a raised building, perhaps 30 inches off the ground. attached will be a run. The wire for the run will be hardware mesh, 1/2 inch square. I have some animal pen fencing that I think has a mesh of 1x2". I know this is too small for the outside, but I'm thinking of putting it as a "floor" to the run to stop digging predators. Then sand/dirt could go over it. If the 1x2 is too large, I could run two pieces at 90' to make the mesh overlap and thus be smaller. I have to keep costs down and I have several large portions of this stuff that came with the house.

    Other "found" items that I think will come in handy are the very large metal arches that came from a trampoline safety fence. I think they will make the framework for the attached run on the coop.

    A question about that: does the top of the run need to be covered in hardware cloth too, or would poultry wire be ok. I think it is to deter hawks only... or will raccoons and other things climb up the wire walls and tear through a chicken wire "roof"?

    Size-wise I am thinking an 8x8 coop with an attached 8x10 run. This would be open to them all the time, even days they don't go out in their bug-mobile.

    Am I missing anything? I have read many posts on here with ideas about roosts, nesting boxes, feed and water placement, etc.

    Oh, one thing I would like suggestions for, ventilation in the coop. Sometimes in the summer here, it can stay in the 90's almost all night, so in the summer, heat is a problem. However, I would need to make it possible to be contained in the winter. We don't have much snow or freezing usually, but every few years we get a colder winter. would vents in the eves and an open door be ok or would you do actual windows with shutters?


  2. citychickx6

    citychickx6 Songster

    May 14, 2011

    I would not put a floor in the run but around the outside about 12 inches out as a skirt to prevent dig ins. The one by two mesh is smaller than my two by four mesh so I think could be used as the wire for the outside or instead of the chicken wire. Chicken wire does not do much to protect against racoons. They can bite through it.
    Other than that your plan sound good to me.
    I have windows that I can open in the summer and close up for winter. Not expensive at all. Just some plexi glass that I put in a frame. I put hardware cloth and steel screen in the openings that house the windows. Works well enough.

    TONS of great ideas in the coop page too.
  3. ChestnutRidge

    ChestnutRidge Songster

    Feb 26, 2011
    Western Virginia
    I agree about the floor of the run. I would save some money by just putting an "apron" of hardware cloth around the outside, and then I would make the run a bit bigger if you can. Aim for at least 10 square feet per bird in the run. It really helps if they have some room to get away from each other. Ranging is great, but there will be days when you are away from home and they have to stay in the run. The space in your coop sounds perfect. I had 11 in an 8x8 over the winter, and that was perfect. It stayed clean and dry and they were able to manage the deep litter themselves at that density. If I had had more, I would have had to turn and add shavings more often.

    Raccoons could climb up and tear through the chicken wire. That said, I have only deer netting as my "roof." I lock the birds up tight in the coop at night, and I have not had a raccoon, skunk, opossum, etc. attack during the day. I am just really careful to have them secured by dusk.

    And, hello, fellow Virginian! [​IMG]
  4. Zigmont

    Zigmont Songster

    Oct 29, 2011

    We have varying degrees of safety areas in the chicken compound. Our coop, night area is solid with ventilation in the top, so nothing short of a large grizzly (we live in nj) can get in. The front porch is meshed with chicken wire and 1x2 inch wire and has a plywood floor with 3 inch nails poking through the bottom. Heaven help the critter who digs under there. The roof is mesh with clear plexiglass. The back yard is meshed with chicken wire and 1x2 with chicken wire roof. This is for day use only. I too get then in at dusk. Then, they have the play pen which is 20x 30 feet with 1x2 and aviary netting on top to keep them safe from hawks. Day use only. When we are out there, they can free range, but we did lose one to a hawk, so we have to be careful. At this point, if we broke even selling the eggs, we are up to about $25.00 per dozen...:)Good luck!

    I would not use just the 1x2 because raccoons will reach in and kill them that way. It's not pretty to find your chickens with missing body parts.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Sounds like a fairly good basic plan. I agree that an apron around the run is better than wire on the bottom. Lay the wire horizontal around the outside of the run and attach it to the bottom of the run. You don’t have to bury it, just lay something heavy on it until the grass grows through it to hold it down, but an easy way to handle it is to remove the sod, maybe 2” worth, lay the wire, then put the sod back on it. That keeps it out of the way of lawn mowers and weed eaters. The basic idea is that a predator goes up to the fence, starts digging, hits the wire, and does not know to back up.

    Just make sure you attach it to the bottom of the run fencing. I’ve seen some pretty big animals like groundhogs and possums go up to a fence really close to the ground and just push their way under it without any real digging. You’d be surprised how little room they take. (That groundhog was at a garden fence. They are not a threat to chickens.)

    I don’t know what materials you are using, but I’ll mention that a lot of building materials come in 4’ and 8’ lengths. I’m thinking about your run more than the coop since you are already planning for that. Depending in how much wire you have on hand, how much wire is on a roll, and what materials you have for the run, you might be able to build an 8’ x 16’ for no more cost than an 8’ x 10’. Just something to consider.

    For the sides of the run, I used 2” x 4” welded wire. This will stop most serious predators. Snakes, some weasels, and rats can still get through, but those are real hard to stop anyway. My philosophy was to make a predator proof coop and lock them up at night, and make a predator resistant run for pretty good protection during the day. It can get really expensive to make a totally predator proof run. It’s a balancing act. I did put about 18” of chicken wire along the bottom of the run. This has three functions. It helps keep raccoons and such from reaching in through the wire to eat a chicken by parts, it keeps the chickens from sticking their heads out of the wire where they are vulnerable, and it keeps baby chicks from being able to walk through the wire.

    For the top of the run, I suggest you use that 2” x 4” welded wire if you are buying it. It is a lot stronger than chicken wire and less expensive than hardware cloth. You’ll need to attach the edges of the wire together to make a solid roof. I used J-clips which I got in the rabbit section of Tractor Supply, but an easy way is to get some wire and weave it in there. Hog rings can work too.

    I had some lumber and metal roofing available due to a 70 mph straight line wind and poor constructions methods by the people I bought this place from so I used that. The metal roofing material has some nail holes on it so it leaks a little, but if you put it on a slope it will keep the run a lot drier and provide shade. Depending in how your run and coop doors are built, it is nice to have a dry entry to the coop.

    Your dangers are going to be in the heat of the summer, not the winter. As long as they have adequate ventilation and are protected from direct breezes, they can handle temperatures down to single digits or below. At least nine do. They are wearing a down coat year round, so cold in your climate is not a threat at all. You could even make one end of your coop mostly or entirely out of wire (I‘d use good hardware cloth for this to make it predator proof) and put your roosts in the far end. This open end would need to be downwind and you might want an overhang to keep rainwater out.

    Hot air rises. I strongly suggest you make as much ventilation at the top as you can. One the sides where you have the rafter ends, bring the siding up to the bottom of the rafters and fill that in with hardware cloth. One the other two sides at the top, I had the walls different heights to provide a sloped roof. The shorter one was 8’ high and the other was taller. I filled that triangle in with hardware cloth. By putting the roosts in lower than the openings, I have great cross ventilation without them having a breeze hitting them in the winter.

    For the summer, I have a window I can open just about roost height. I also made an opening close to ground level and covered it with hardware cloth. I can cover that in winter but you probably would not have to. A breeze hitting them directly in the summer is not a problem at all. It’s a good thing. Heat will be your danger.

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