Have Chick-N-Hutch - need to build/buy bigger coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by rudimyers, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. rudimyers

    rudimyers In the Brooder

    Jan 6, 2011
    Chesnee, SC
    I am a first time chicken owner. My husband gave me a Ware Chick-N-Hutch for Christmas (I am a new member so it wont' let me post a URL - Google Ware chicken, click on Bird, and look for the Chick-N-Hutch to see a picture) which is 42.50 inches wide, 28 inches deep, and 39 inches high. We paid for two Australorp pullets (two months old), and the man was very nice and gave us two more pullets and a male. Right now the coop is "working". Obviously, I need something bigger. I want the birds to be free range. What coop do you recommend to purchase/build to house four (one pullet died) birds? I guess I should be safe and actually ask for one that will house ten.

    Other questions:

    The coop is in our fenced in backyard (we have seven acres of land). The boys (7 and 2 1/2) will be playing in it more and more often as the weather warms up. Are chickens in the backyard ok, or do I need to relocate them? (The boys are very good around the chickens; are helping to feed them; know not to run around them and make loud noise; etc).

    We tried using a auto cat waterer and cat feeder in the coop. What a mess! I had bought a galvanized steel hanging feeder and a galvanized steel waterer. The feeder is in the coop but I know that won't last long. I am afraid to leave it out in the yard at night for it attracting racoons, etc around the birds. Any suggestions?

    Do I need bedding in my existing coop? I have been putting down a layer of hay. We also have a pile of pine mulch I could use if that is better.

    For free ranging, how worried to I need to be about foxes and hawks during the day? I put the birds in the coop every night and lock the door. When I build/buy the bigger coop, does it need to have an attached protected run that I keep the birds in (if so, the coop would need to be portable so the birds could be "free range")?

    Thank you all for your help.

    In Chesnee, SC
  2. ARose4Heaven

    ARose4Heaven Songster

    Apr 16, 2009
    Flippin, AR
    BYC is the place to be! There are a lot of links and threads with ideas and pics on here. [​IMG] For 10 chicks or less, the possibilities are endless.

    As for bedding, I think most use pine shavings in the deep litter method, but then again, many don't. The straw or hay in a small coop works well too.

    Kids and chickens can be the best of friends...but it is always best to have a separate run for your chicks that has hardware wire around the base 6 inches or more buried to discourage digging predators when you are not home. Yes, predators do come in daylight too. You would be surprised to see how small a space a vermin can drag a chicken through. For the most part, free range hens don't have much to worry about from the air during daylight...as long as they have something they can hide under.

    There are always exceptions though, so it is up to you how much security you need. As you can see by my avatar pic, I like a lot of security for my girls.
  3. MamaChic21

    MamaChic21 Songster

    Dec 2, 2010
    Jackson, NJ
    Quote:I agree with you on everything. I also have 2 1/2 and 8 yr old sons and I let my chickens and ducks free range if we are in the backyard with them. The boys play soccer and play around and that didn't bother them. Chickens are smart, when they see a 2 yr running after them, they take cover [​IMG] :-D Don't worry, as ARose Heaven wrote, they will be best of friends.
    I also have a run a closed run for them. Incase when we're not home. We have 5 acre of land and there are so many predators during the day and night. Hawks, vultures, possums, fox, owls. If I were you, I would build or buy them a closed run. Good luck [​IMG]
  4. i've used rabbit hutches and bought a chick-n-barn for my first official coop. But it's pretty flimsy and you have to put in a floor and seal up windows and such with hardware cloth. i've found kid's wooden playhouses a much better option. Since i don't have the skills to build something from scratch, i've found several playhouses on craigslist then adapted them for my chickens. Some need floors put in or roosts, add nest boxes and latches and you're set. i've used both straw and pine shavings as bedding and prefer the pine shavings. It's more absorbent so you don't need to clean it out completely as often as straw.

    We don't have a lot of predators around here during the day, mainly cats. But since i have bantams, i need to keep them safe, so most of my pens are chain link or welded wire dog kennels with roofing or aviary cloth over top. For extra security you can dig down a foot and run hardware cloth around the perimeter of your pen (down then bent out to deter digging).

    A lot of people let their chickens free range during the day. i do when i can be out there to supervise, but don't want to risk it when i'm not there to protect them.
  5. mychookschick

    mychookschick Songster

    Aug 28, 2009
    [​IMG] and [​IMG] .... I know that you will enjoy it as much as all of us do!

    I used to just have a dirt floor coop... But I just updated to a regular storage shed. We put salvaged linoleum on the floor and put some old nest boxes in... Hung the food and calcium. And that was about it.

    Next spring we plan to add a pop door and a medium sized run so that in the morning (when they are locked in for laying) they can go outside but are still close to the coop. Then in the afternoon (if I'm not going anywhere) they can freerange on as much of our 52 acres as they can cover!

    I would suggest that if you have a wood floor coop... PUT LINOLEUM DOWN!! Otherwise the floor WILL rot and you WILL have to change it just about every year! I haven't had it very long but I think that linoleum is the best choice that I've made for my coop so far... Oh... and whatever you decide upon should have a window or ventilation of some sort because I have to add one early on in the spring because those sheds get REALLY hot!

    Good luck on deciding!

    My Chooks Chick
  6. Cargo

    Cargo Songster

    Sep 28, 2010
    Farmington, NM
    If you have the space I would build an 8x8 Coop like in the Building Chicken Coops For Dummies book.
    I would also make a secure run of about 150/160 sf. Gives you room for chicken math.
    You want the run completely secure so you can go away for a vacation without needing a chicken sitter. You can still free range when you are home.
    Chickens will poop everywhere! So be ready for the kids to track it in the house. They also destroy grass and flower beds.

    Bedding in the existing little hutch would really just make it easier to clean. Shavings, straw, leaves or whatever is dry. When you get a big coop built you can look into Deep Litter Method.
  7. Judy

    Judy Crowing

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I agree, building an 8x8 coop is most likely the way to go. Easy to plan out with standard lumber sizes, little waste. It will house what you have and maybe a few more. Supposedly it will house 16 but really, life is a lot more pleasant if you keep it down to a lot less than that in an 8x8.

    Kids and female chickens will do fine, but you have a rooster, and that is a whole different thing. I would not leave a small child unsupervised around a rooster once he is about 12 or 14 weeks old. When those hormones hit and he starts to crow is when to watch. I hope he turns out to be a good, non-human-aggressive roo for you, but you never know, it just depends on genetics and hormones.

    I free range mine. I have two dogs who are trained to be around chickens and pretty much keep predators off the property. But I still realize that free ranging means there may very well be losses. I've only lost one in the nearly 2 years since they were free to roam together, and actually I rather think that one was lost to a medical problem and not a predator, but I can't be sure. To me, their quality of life is so much better if they can come and go as they choose; chickens do NOT like being "cooped up" in a coop and run, even a large run. It's a personal choice.
  8. rudimyers

    rudimyers In the Brooder

    Jan 6, 2011
    Chesnee, SC
    Thank you thank you for the replies and support. Husband built an 8X8 frame last night and will put chicken wire around it this morning. It is VERY light weight so we can move it around. I will keep the current coop if I want to separate a hen and her chicks out. I am looking at plans now and am still thinking/hunting/gathering for something bigger to build. I like the Chickens for Dummies book. I guess I will have to purchase my own copy because the public library here doesn't have it. I am going to check out two (what look like) similar books today.
  9. Cargo

    Cargo Songster

    Sep 28, 2010
    Farmington, NM
    Here you go. dsqard built the 8x8 from Coops for dummies and let us watch. Here.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2011
  10. Carrie Lynn

    Carrie Lynn Songster

    Aug 30, 2010
    S.E. Michigan
    Welcome to BYC!
    I too started off with the Ware hutch you have and it worked well for the summer. Mine had a larger pen for daytime exercise also.
    Please know that this product is not predator safe. Oh, it can deter them for a while, but it is just not strong enough for a determined raccoon.
    Also, I do believe possums and coons could reach right in there. I've heard others say an animal could chew through the wood too. So, please be careful. I intend to reinforce with 1/2 inch hardware cloth in the spring when I get a few new chicks. Even then, I will not leave them in it in the evenings.

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