How to convert a 20'x15' barn into a coop. Lots of problems and ?'s

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by LaneRae, Feb 18, 2009.

  1. LaneRae

    LaneRae Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 17, 2009
    Elkton, VA
    We will be moving shortly and on the property there is a 20'x15' barn that we thought would make an awesome large coop!

    I am new to chickens and need some pointers and questions answered please?

    Our first concern is that we will be fencing in the property with wire mesh to keep the bad citizens out. The fence will be 15' all the way around three sides of the building and on the back side there is an over-hang that the birds can go under if they want out of the sun or rain and still want to be outside. How many birds (Wyandottes) can I put in an area roughly 45'x 45'?

    Should I put "base boards" around the bottom of outside enclosure pen to hold shavings or is this mildly grassy area going to turn into mud? What should my concerns be with the ground as far as health?

    There is a hay loft and I am afraid that the birds will nest in the rafters. Is there a good netting I can purchase to put a "roof" on the first floor so they won't get up there?

    How secure does the barn have to be for drafts? There are some boards with holes and I am not sure it will hold a good amount of heat as it is. How warm (comfortably) to birds have to be to keep them in prime health? What temp to they prefer?

    What toys can I build for them to keep them busy? Are there any pointers you can give me for things to purchase, build or buy that will keep the birds amused and happy all of the time?

    Any other information that you can give to me is greatly appreciated. I want the best bird enclosure possible for my show quality birds of the future.

    Thanks a bunch,
    Alayne
     
  2. waynesgarden

    waynesgarden Feathers of Steel

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    In my northern climate I would keep no more than 75 birds in that size coop as long as they have access to a secure run outside.

    More importantly, how many chickens do you need or how many is a reasonable amount for you to spend the time and money caring for? What are your goals for your chicken project? I'm not one of those who encourages everyone to build, build, build more coop and buy buy buy more chickens. If all you need are enough chickens to provide eggs for your family, I'd suggest closing off a portion of the building for the birds and using the rest of it for other functions. If you will be selling eggs or filling your freezer with roasters, then use the whole building.

    The building should not allow winter winds to blow on your birds. If you're inside it and feel a draft, so will your birds and they will suffer for it on bitter winter nights.

    I would also provide a secure run attached to the coop so the birds have free access to the outdoors at all times. I would not rely on the fencing around the property since it may be extremely hard to impossible to make it predator-proof.

    Wayne
     
  3. Catfishingpokey

    Catfishingpokey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    it would help folks to make suggestions if you would post some pictures pf the barn.
     
  4. cgjsmith

    cgjsmith Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'll try and help a little. we converted an old one storybarn/shed 20X24 into a animal/chicken barn. First thing i would do is lay out some DE to kill any mites that might be in it from previous occupants. I would also watch for coccidia in your birds (we lost two set of birds from not knowing what it was that was killing them. If you can find aviary netting that would probably work best. http://www.bfproducts.com/comersus/store/comersus_listCategoriesAndProducts.asp?idCategory=95

    We
    went in the building with posts and divided it up into four areas. Since we had basicly a blank space it worked well for us. Pictures would help [​IMG] Sorry so disjointed my mind is wandering. Crystal
     
  5. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    We converted half of a large horse stall to a 9x11' coop and added platforms to that each bird would have 15 sq ft space because of harsh winters and the need to keeps birds in side, especially the week that the chill factor was -41C. Insulation is a good decision, and be sure to keep the birds out of the hay in the loft. Not only will they spoil your hay but they could get parasites if any wild birds have contaminated the hay. As already mentioned, food-grade DE is a preventive for bedding, hay and other materials around barns and coops.

    Consider using planks under the bedding- do you have some left from the horse stall? This will reduce the amount of bedding needed and helps keep their feet warm in bitter conditions. And if you ever have a waterer leak, the birds will not get exposed to as much liquid, which can be a huge problem.

    Roof part of your run next to the barn- you will be thrilled at how much easier it is to keep chickens. The more they are out, the less manure in the coop. Consider snow boards to break the force of winds. Indoor and outdoor Platforms make it easy to scrape manure on a daily basis- well worth the effort. Don't crowd the birds- allow 15 sq feet indoors so that your birds don;t begin to peck at each other. Same space outside. I know the guidelines for indoors are lower, but those of us in winter climates must allow more space.

    You're going to have a lot of fun with this- oh and use hardware cloth on the run and to block the loft- excludes all of the known predators provided you secure the edges well.

    Our reno is in the home page under my avatar, shows the details...[​IMG]
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Be aware that it is extremely hard, probably unrealistic to expect, to fence predators out, short of making a totally enclosed run with a top of some sort and dig-proof perimeter. Really - dogs, foxes and coyotes are accomplished diggers, raccoons and possums are superb climbers, and weasels can get int hrough like a 1" gap or less. Plus of course there's hawks.

    Should I put "base boards" around the bottom of outside enclosure pen to hold shavings or is this mildly grassy area going to turn into mud? What should my concerns be with the ground as far as health?

    It's going to turn into dirt no matter what you do, although the fewer birds, the slower that will happen (to some of it anyhow).

    When it gets too bare, or if it gets too muddy, you can wait til the ground is 100% dry and put on a layer of sand or gravel, for cleanliness' sake.

    I wouldn't put base boards around the outside of it unless you need them to keep sand/gravel from washing out. You will however want to make some provisions for discouraging things from digging in under the fence... most people here will say 'bury wire mesh 1.5-3' deep' but personally I think that an apron of heavy-gauge mesh laid on (or just under) the ground, extending out 2-4' from the base of the fence, is a much better idea for various reasons.

    There is a hay loft and I am afraid that the birds will nest in the rafters. Is there a good netting I can purchase to put a "roof" on the first floor so they won't get up there?

    An actual *loft*, or just rafters up there? If it's a loft, just keep the birds DOWNSTAIRS and close up the access hole(s). If it is just an open barn with rafters, or if there is a loft but for some reason you really want them to have access to it, you may be kind of stuck with them roosting in the rafters. It would take a LOT of money and work to keep them out. Not that it can't be done, but, not easily.

    How secure does the barn have to be for drafts? There are some boards with holes and I am not sure it will hold a good amount of heat as it is. How warm (comfortably) to birds have to be to keep them in prime health? What temp to they prefer?

    In Virginia you probably don't need to insulate but you do need to get rid of those drafts, at least from the area around the roosts and frankly I'd say the WHOLE thing. Patch holes, add battens to cover cracks between boards, replace bum boards. Or you could add an inside layer of something solid, that would work too.

    As long as you choose reasonably cold hardy breeds they're fine down to at least freezing and generally considerably lower as long as there are no drafts and the air is dryish (not humid). Humid air or drafts are frostbite generators.

    What toys can I build for them to keep them busy?

    There's some threads on this if you search. Honestly though IMO they are not really toy-using critters. They just want space to wander around 'being chickens' and interacting with each other and scratching around in hopes of finding a piece of food. Lots of living room is the best 'toy' they can have.

    Good luck, have fun, welcome to BYC,

    Pat​
     
  7. LaneRae

    LaneRae Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 17, 2009
    Elkton, VA
    Thank you for all of the replies I have gotten so far. I will see if I can go take some pictures of the barn and post them here.

    The loft is a real loft but I will not be putting any hay up there...I don't think. I thought of letting the chickens up there and putting boxes up there also but how messy would that be? Pretty messy I would imagine.

    We only need a few chickens for meat each year and eggs but I also want to sell some eggs and breed for show as well. I really only intend to have around 15-20 chickens initially and will keep a couple of roosters (not sure how to do this, but this is my idea) seperate and only put them with select hens when I want a brood. Can you keep roos together or do they have to be seperated?

    I will make sure to have high fences with covers and bend the edges outward on the ground and secure them well so critters can't get in. I will try and keep it grassy though and then put lots of roosting areas around.

    I have read quite a bit about the nest boxes and will make them all in a row the same height and plenty of high perches so there is little fighting.

    As far as the "toys" go, I didn't know if they needed amusement or not but the neat stuff I put in there sure will look like I spoil them to the human though won't it? I can see a chicken swing set, monkey bars, merry-go-round...Oh that woul be soooo funny!!!

    Thanks again,
    Alayne
     

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