Help with coop design...

DVTO2

Songster
10 Years
Mar 10, 2010
155
3
144
I am new to chickens. I read Raising chickens for Dummies and have browsed this site. I am looking for about 40 eggs per week and am planning on 6 or 7 New Hampshire reds (I live in Northern CT). The book says 2 to 3 feet per chicken but the consensus on this site seems to be 4 square feet of indoor space per chicken. I can manage 10 square feet of run and may let them free range some of the time, though I do have hawks aorund. I am thinking 4' x 8' feet should do the trick. If I use a four foot height I can minimize cutting and wasted plywood. I don't want to reinvent the wheel and am hoping someone has a link with a similar design that might help.

Thanks,

David Tobin
East Granby, CT
 

DVTO2

Songster
10 Years
Mar 10, 2010
155
3
144
I forgot to mention that I plan on mounting this on a garden trailer so it will be up off the ground and movable.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,256
20,033
907
Southeast Louisiana
frow.gif
Welcome to this forum. Glad you are here.
frow.gif


I don't have any specific design for you. There are so many different ways for you to go. I will address the difference in space requirements recommendations you mentioned. The recommendations for smaller space are generally aimed at commercial operations that have perfected the art of squeezing the space down to its most efficient minimum. Space costs money, not just to build but to maintain and operate. To be competitive and stay in business, the commercial operations have to be as efficient as they can. Their management techniques are generally different than ours. Very few members of this forum automatically trim the beaks of their chickens to keep them from cannibalizing the weak members of the flock. A lot of their processes are automated, such as poop removal. My poop removal process is more labor intensive so I have more room to keep from having to do it any more often than I have to. There are other examples, but maybe you get my drift.

There are plenty of people on this forum that get by with less than the minimum forum-recommended 4 and 10 square feet rules of thumb. We all have different set-ups, goals, and management techniques. I'll copy something I wrote up for another post that gives my opinion on space requirements. You may find something of interest in there.

As long as you have enough height for the roosts to be noticeably higher than the nest boxes, height does not matter to chickens. They are basically ground dwelling birds, so the ground area is all that really matters space wise. I said it does not matter to the chickens. It does matter to me if I have to work in there. It matters quite a bit.

If the nest boxes are high enough off the ground that the chickens can easily get under them, then nest boxes do not take away from the space available. The tops of the nesting boxes does not add to the living space either although they may occasionally be up there. Ground level is what counts.

Some of the things that make up the space requirement are, in my opinion:

1. Personal space for the birds. They have different personalities and different individual requirements. Some are very possessive of personal space and some can share.

2. Access to feeder and waterer. The general recommendation is that they all be able to eat at one time, but access to the waterer is also important. Part of this is that they seem to like to all eat at once but not necessarily drink at the same time. Part of it is that a dominant bird may keep others from eating or drinking, especially with limited access.

3. Being able to put the feeder and waterer where they will not poop in it when they roost.

4. Roost space. They not only need to have enough room to roost, they need to have enough room for them to sort out who gets to sleep next to whom and who gets the prime spots. They also need enough room to get on the roosts and get off them. When they get on, they may jump from some midway support or fly directly to the roost, but either way, they like to spread their wings. And some chickens seem to enjoy blocking the entry points if there are limits. And when they get off, mine tend to want to fly down, not jump to a halfway point. They need room to fly down without bumping into feeders, waterers, nesting boxes, or a wall.

5. Poop load. The larger area they have the less often you have to actively manage the poop. They poop a lot while on the roost so you may have to give that area special consideration, but mucking out the entire coop can be backbreaking work plus you have to have some place to put all that bedding and poop. In my opinion, totally cleaning out the coop is something that needs to happen as seldom as possible.

6. How often are they able to get out of the coop. The more they are confined to the coop, the larger the personal space needs to be. The normal recommendation on this forum is 4 square feet per full sized chicken with a minimum of 10 square feet of run per bird. This additional requirement outside is sometimes not mentioned. How often they are allowed out of the coop may depend on a lot more than just weather. Your work schedule, when you are able to turn them loose, what time of day you open the pop door to let them out or lock them up at night, all this and more enters into the equation. The 4 square feet recommendation assumes they will spend extended time in the coop and not be able to get in the run. What that extended time can safely be depends on a lot of different factor so there is no one correct length of time for everyone.

7. Do you feed and water in the coop or outside. The more they are outside, the less pressure on the size of the coop.

8. The size of the chicken. Bantams require less room than full sized chickens. This has to be tempered by breed and the individual personalities. Some bantams can be more protective of personal space than others, but this is also true of full sized breeds.

9. The breed of the chicken. Some handle confinement better than others.

10. The number of chickens. The greater the number of chickens, the more personal space they can have if the square foot per chicken stays constant. Let me explain. Assume each chicken occupies 1 square foot of space. If you have two chickens and 4 square feet per chicken, the two chickens occupy 2 square feet, which leaves 6 square feet for them to explore. If you have ten chickens with 4 square feet per chicken, each chicken has 30 unoccupied square feet to explore. A greater number also can give more space to position the feeders and waterers properly in relation to the roosts and provide access. I’m not encouraging you to crowd your birds if you have a large number of them. I’m trying to say you are more likely to get in trouble with 4 square feet per chicken if you have very few chickens.

11. What is your flock make-up. A flock with more than one rooster may be more peaceful if it has more space. I don't want to start the argument about number or roosters here as I know more than one rooster can often peacefully coexist with a flock, but I firmly believe more space helps.

12. What is the maximum number of chickens you will have. Consider hatching chicks or bringing in replacements. Look down the road a bit.

I'm sure I am missing several components, but the point I'm trying to make is that we all have different conditions. There is no magic number that suits us all. The 4 square feet in a coop with 10 square feet in the run is a good rule of thumb for a minimum that, most of the time, will keep us out of trouble, but not always. I do believe that more is better both in the coop and in they run.
 

DVTO2

Songster
10 Years
Mar 10, 2010
155
3
144
Great answer, Ridgerunner. Anyone have a link to a simple 4' by 8' coop build process?
 

jim s

In the Brooder
10 Years
Sep 9, 2009
23
0
22
I have a 4'x8' coop on a 3'x7' garden trailer. The trailler is 21" off the ground. The 8' length front of the coop is 40" high and the back is 48" high, I have an angled roof. I made it using 2x2's and 15/32" plywoood. The roof is metal roofing supported by a 2x2 frame. The roof is hinged on the back (high side). I would hinge it on the low side if I did it again, easier to reach in. The sides are 4' wide and angled 40" to 48". I have a door on each side, I made them 16" x 16" for the chickens but I would make them bigger so you can reach in better when needed. I have 4 nesting boxes (2 on top of 2, ea 12" square, with an outside entrance on the back wall, mine sit on the floor, they do not use the lower ones much. I have roosts across the front 8' long, 12" away from the front wall. I have two plexiglas windows in front about 18" x 2' ea that open when needed. I live in MN, so I added a heat lamp on the ceiling, framed in by 2x2's so the birds don't knock it down. I don't have a poop board, but I would figure something out if I did it again. I clean mine out way too often, and the poop builds up quick. I do deep litter method and it still gets pretty funky quick. Of course this was when I only had this coop and 20 birds and it was summer. I keep the water outside and the food inside. The water inside kept that whole area pretty soggy.
I know you are wondering where the pictures or plans are. Sorry, I am technologically inept.
I hope this helps.
 

Manok-Tao

Songster
10 Years
Jan 6, 2010
295
12
121
W-S NC
Welcome to the site.
your doing it right by researching the options and designs that meet what you want.
Remember this....if the coop is user freindly to you then you will enjoy having birds, if it isn't then...uuuggh. Don't plan so much for X amount of birds or X amount of eggs. Plan something that works for your situation (build as BIG as you can)...then when done and everything works for YOU...you can say ok I can house X amount of birds. You have some great posts here on your thread that give you the rules of thumbs for the birds (roost heught, nest height, sq feet inside and out). Keep them in mind and build the coop for your backyard, then get your birds.
I had a cruddy coop for a couple years...finally got so fed up I sold my flock. After 2 years without I built the 6X8 coop (shown on my page) and implemented a ton of stuff I wanted and the basics that the birds needed. just housed 8 19 week old pullets 2 weeks ago and am now getting 2 small eggs a day.

Keep searching, looking, asking, drawing.......it's gonna be awesome whatever route/design you choose
 

DVTO2

Songster
10 Years
Mar 10, 2010
155
3
144
Jim,

This sounds very similar to what I am envisioning. I think having it on a cart will be very convenient. I am thinking of putting the run on wheels as well, as I have too many hawks to let them free range.
 

DVTO2

Songster
10 Years
Mar 10, 2010
155
3
144
OK. Here are some more thoughts. Let's say I am thinking 4' by 8' by 4' for 6 reds. Roost might be a 2 x 4 down the length. Is 6" of ventilation across the top wall, that is 6" down the whole length of the wall, on both sides enough? I was also thinking of a window on one side so that it could be on the sunny side during winter and the shady side during summer.
 

MANNA-PRO

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom