Here's our coop project! Could use some help about predators and ventilation

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by johndeerelover, Oct 19, 2013.

  1. johndeerelover

    johndeerelover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 7, 2013
    Carroll County Maryland

    Here's a photo of our coop under construction. I could use some help based on my particular area and predators. I've done a lot of reading on here by doing searches etc. but I'm still not sure what to do.

    Predators- As you can see we are in a woodsy area and that is probably 50 acres of corn going to more woods in the distance. I've seen foxes around and I imagine raccoons are here too. I would like it to be 100% predator proof, so if something wants in, it can fool around all night and not make it haha. I've read about hardware cloth 19 guage. Is that by itself in the windows enough to keep things out? Or should I put on another layer of fencing or double hardware cloth? The stuff is expensive so I don't want to use more than I need.

    Ventilation- I live in Maryland, so our winters aren't like Maine, but we can have some pretty cold spells, also we are on top a hill so it can get windy. It's going to have 4 windows. The coop is 5 1/2 x 7. I imageine I might want to close all the windows in the winter to keep out wind? Should I leave vent space up where the roof meets the sides? I could use hardware cloth etc. to seal it. If that's a good idea, would I need to make them flaps to be able to close? Or would I leave them open all year long no matter what? Please let me know what you think.

  2. McKinneyMike

    McKinneyMike Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 20, 2013
    McKinney, TX
    Fully vented eaves and a ridge vent would be good choices for all year round and gable vents in both gables will increase your ventilation. The windows will also help in the heat of summer provided that they open. "drafts" are what you don't want directly on your birds in the winter time. If its over 90 outside the birds will be hot. A nice shaded coop (which it looks like you have there) will help keep the birds cooler. Are you going to free range or add a run to the coop? I would dig down at least 1 foot and then out another foot and place 1"x2" or 2"x4" welded wire in the ground around the perimeter of the coop to stop predators from digging into the coop and/or run. I do everything to excess I am told, but I would run my wire down one foot around the perimeter and then out another foot at the bottom of my trench to form an "L" with the wire. Back fill and tamp good. Large rocks placed around the exterior perimeter also helps.

    Really nice start on the coop! Can't wait to see it finished!
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2013
  3. jetdog

    jetdog Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2013
    Use fender washers to hold the hardware cloth on with screws, if you want it to be safe you might want to consider putting a few hot wires around the coop and run if you have electricity near the coop. Looks real nice so far.
  4. johndeerelover

    johndeerelover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 7, 2013
    Carroll County Maryland
    I am going to make a run, but also let them roam around the yard when we are outside. I would like to be able to have them have access to the run whenever during the day, everyday. Thanks for all the ideas. I never thought of using fender washers. That's a good idea. I had those nails bent in a U and was thinking they might be a pain to get in.

    Do you think it is ok to make the eaves have hardware cloth and be open all the time?, without the ability to close? I already bought a non-vented ridge cap, hopefully that will be alright. I actually started siding over the gables. Do you think just the eaves will be ok? All the windows will be removable, so it's mostly the winter ventialtion I assume I need to think about. The windows are old barn type ones, and they will either flip up, or just remove with hinges.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I see its elevated with a solid floor so you don’t need to worry about something digging into it, but if you add a run, I’d suggest you look at the apron method for the run instead of trying to dig down in that soil. That’s probably real rocky and you’ll likely hit some tree roots. Just lay maybe 18” to 24” of that welded wire flat around the outside of the run, attach it really well to the bottom of your run, and cover it with a couple of inches of dirt or rocks. The idea is that a predator goes up to the fence, starts digging, hits the wire, and doesn’t know to back up. It’s effective and a whole lot easier than trying to dig down.

    A lot of people really like those fender washers to hold on the hardware cloth, but I use wood lathing instead where I can. Take a strip of wood two or three inches wide and maybe ½” to ¾” thick and screw that on top of the edges of the hardware cloth. Pre-drill the pilot holes so you don’t split the wood and put the screws through a hole in the hardware cloth. That holds as well or better than the fender washers, doesn’t give the raccoon an edge to pull on, and keeps the sharp edges of the wire covered so you don’t snag your clothes or hands on them.

    As a minimum I’d keep the tops of the walls under the overhang open and covered with hardware cloth year-round. That will provide ventilation and keep rainwater out. A roof vent or gable vent up high wouldn’t hurt a thing but I’d not do a ridge vent. Snow could block it where you are. Just keep the roosts low enough so they are lower than those openings and the birds will be below a cross wind. Close the windows in the winter but open them in the warmer weather. I don’t think you need flaps on anything above their heads unless you run into a “rainwater getting in” problem.

    No coop is going to be 100% predator proof. The more you spend the closer you can come. And your building techniques come into play. You have to attach the material so it will not come loose and you have to have solid enough material it can’t easily be smashed. A hot wire is about the only thing that will stop a bear but hardware cloth properly attached will stop most things you are likely to see. I covered my window with hardware cloth and have been happy with that. If you want to be even safer add a layer of that welded wire over it.

    It looks solid and well-built. I have some issues with it being raised like that. The chickens can probably get back under the coop from what I can see. If one starts laying under here or is hurt and you need it retrieve it, how do you get to it? If you block the chickens out of it, that becomes a great place for mice and other vermin to nest. That could become a place for larger animals to den. You probably can’t do anything about mice and such other than maintain a trapping program, but I’d give real serious consideration to blocking that off underneath so bigger things can’t get under there. I know why you did it that way, the ground isn’t level so you solved that problem. There are always trade-offs.

    I think it looks really good and well-built. I think you’ll be happy with it. Good luck!
    2 people like this.
  6. johndeerelover

    johndeerelover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 7, 2013
    Carroll County Maryland
    Thanks for all the advice and ideas! I really appreciate the time to help me along.

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