housing in barn questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by tnmommy, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. tnmommy

    tnmommy Songster

    Apr 14, 2013
    Loretto, TN
    My Australorps are currently in a Lucky Dog run, reinforced with chicken wire on the bottom and top, hardware cloth on the sides. That part is great. But we have a retrofitted dog house as their coop and I just don't like it for the grown chickens. There is no room inside for nest boxes so they are all 3 laying in the corner. And putting a heat lamp in is just not working all that well. Rookie mistake.

    I would like to keep the dog run and coop for my grow out pen and move the adults to coops in the barn. We use it primarily for storage at present, but it is a really big barn. There is a "room" on the back, with an access door, a "room" on the front with an access door, and a huge stall. The barn has electric outlets.

    My brother has access to free lumber through his job. I want him to build fencing panels to secure the chickens in the barn and prevent predators. Other than nesting boxes, should they still need a coop to be safe or only roosting poles?
  2. jetdog

    jetdog Songster

    Jun 18, 2013
    If you build it secure enough I think you will be ok with a nice roost as long as you can make it draft free, I would take the run you already have and cut a pop door in the barn wall so they can come and go as they please.
  3. KayTee

    KayTee Songster

    Sep 21, 2012
    South West France
    I did the same as you - when I first got my girls I bought a pre-made coop and run designed for (allegedly) 5 chickens, but I quickly realised that my 3 girls were outgrowing the coop rapidly. The run wasn't important, as they free-ranged after the first week.

    Solution - my wonderful husband bought me a "chicken palace" for my birthday! It's a 5m x 4m (about 215 sq ft) summerhouse.

    Obviously 3 chickens (and then 2 additional chicks) didn't need the whole space, so we partitioned it - 1/3 for the girls, 2/3 for a sink, cupboards and work surface, plus storage space for our ride on mower, garden shredder etc. The partition is a 2 foot high tongue and groove wall, with garden netting hung from the roof down to the level of the wall, just to persuade the girls not to hop up onto it and escape into the other part (the chicks only tried once, the others didn't even bother). I deliberately made the wall low so that I can push the net out of the way and step over it easily, and not have to worry about making a gate / door.

    There is a pophole to outside, with a ChickenGuard automatic opener (best thing I ever bought!), and inside the girls have their old coop, which has 2 nesting boxes, and which stays open all the time. I have added two wide perches plus some branches. Both the old coop and the perches get used for sleeping (according to season and whim of each chicken!)

    With the automatic door opener and chicken wire on the outside of the windows (I leave them open a bit in the night when it's really hot in the summer) the coop is perfectly safe from predators, and the girls have lots of space to move around whenever they want.

    In order to traumatise them as little as possible for the move I waited until they were inside the old coop for the night, closed the door, and with my husband carried it inside the new building, then opened the door and left them for the night. In the morning they walked out into the new indoor coop area, and then out through the pop hole door once I opened it.

    I don't have any photos of the inside - I will try and take some in the next couple of days.

    Original coop and tiny run: (run now converted into a free-standing dust bathing area outside in the garden)

    New "Chicken Palace" - the pop hole door is in the right hand side wall:
  4. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Roosts alone should be fine. Raccoons always seem to find their way into barns, even when the doors are closed at night. So I would still cover the top of the stall/area with well-secured wire just in case that happens. Depending on how cold your area gets in winter time, you might want to contain their roost somewhat to help conserve heat, since it'll be a really large open area...
  5. tnmommy

    tnmommy Songster

    Apr 14, 2013
    Loretto, TN
    Thanks guys. I do think I'll go ahead and use a few coops for the winter but house them within the barn. teach1rusl, about that chicken math thing.....is there a way to inoculate oneself from the effects of chicken math?
  6. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I loved my original five girls I started with in 2009 (still have four of them). Now, two additional coops and twenty-something chickens later (I believe three coops with 29 residents qualifies as a coop town), I'd have to say no, there is no inoculation...lol. Town/city number restrictions, or families who've lost all patience with the chicken obsession might be your only hope...[​IMG]
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Chickens need very little in a coop.

    Protection from predators - Your brother is going to build those panels so it sounds as if you have that covered.

    Roosts and nests – You can handle that

    A way to get to the run if you have a run – Most of us use a fairly small pop door to help minimize how much rain gets in. It needs to be rigged up so the wind can’t blow it shut.

    Protection from the worst of the weather – You want to keep the rain out, to keep the coop dry as well as for the chickens’ sake. Depending on your weather and how cold it gets, you probably need to keep them out of a direct breeze in the winter. I’ve seen some barns that are wind proof. I’ve seen some barns where the wind whistles through. I have no idea what your barn looks like.

    Ventilation – This is part of the protection from the weather thing but it’s really important so I’ll separate it. More chickens die from heat than cold, a lot more. I don’t know where you live. If you would go to your profile and indicate your general area it would really help a lot on things like this. In warm or hot weather a breeze hitting them directly is great, just try to avoid those 70 mile per hour straight line winds hitting them. In winter, if it is really cold, a direct breeze hitting them can be a problem. Think “wind chill”. But they need air exchange. They generate moisture when they breathe. Their poop generates moisture and ammonia as long as it’s not frozen solid. The ammonia can damage their respiratory system. The moisture can lead to frostbite. Ammonia is lighter than air. Warm air is lighter also and warm air holds more moisture than cold air. If you have ventilation over their heads in winter, it takes care of both of these potential problems. If you are in a wind-proof barn, all you need is wire around them for predator protection. If the wind comes whistling through and you are in a cold climate, you probably need something fairly solid to block the wind as high as they are roosting.

    I don’t worry about them sleeping in a large area. They don’t need to heat up the coop. They fluff up their feathers and trap air to create an insulated mini-climate around them as long as a breeze is not ruffling their feathers to let that air escape.

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