Huge coop plans, need advice on best materials to use.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Pinx, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. Pinx

    Pinx Chillin' With My Peeps

    286
    1
    101
    May 18, 2011
    Amarillo, Texas
    So my husband and I are buying a house, its actually the house next door so I get to stare at it all day and contemplate where my chicken/rabbit pens will go. To pass time I am always mapping out "plans" for different things I want. This time though I didn't create something that we couldn't actually build. I tend to go overboard lol.

    I don't know if this link will work, it is my "blue prints" for my chicken/rabbit pens. (for the record I absolutely LOVE this site)

    http://fbi.icovia.com/default.aspx?projGuid=F76478DE-CEFE-4482-A809-646AB6CE85D5

    You may have to copy and paste into your browser.
    I tried to figure out a way to post the actual picture but I couldn't find it if it is possible.

    My husband gave me the okay on building it but since I have never built my own pens and am just getting by with the one we have now, I would like everyone's advice on must haves or absolute no no's. As far as being practical and convenient for daily chores. And average price, I want it done right and to look nice but its not going to be Overly expensive where we could go with cheaper materials that work the about the same. My husband wants a price quote so I need to figure out what I will be using etc.

    I am not sure what netting to put on the top of the runs, we don't have the WORST winters but it isn't uncommon to have a yearly storm that gives us a foot of snow maybe more. I don't want the snow to tear up my netting or whatever I have on the roof of the runs. I would like something that could hold up to the snow but isn't the most expensive out there. We don't have a problem as of now with flying predators but I would like it there just in case.
    Also as far as shade goes, in the evenings all pens will have plenty of shade but during the heat of the day there won't be any shade. What can I put up as far as shade that will look nice? I thought about a wood roof over part of the run but I wasn't sure if there was any other great ideas.

    The runs will be built with pipe if that matters and there will be pipe "beams"? going across the top that will help keep the netting up.
    Also, should I go ahead and lay sand throughout the whole run? I imagine they will eat the grass down to dirt anyway, even though they will have a turnout yard.
    If I made it half sand half grass would my grass in the runs stand a better chance, or will it just be a lost cause.

    The straight runs will be 6' wide X 20' long X 6' High at the lowest points of the run.
    Inside it will be 6' x 5' (even though in the plans they aren't as wide, I just didn't feel up to changing it at the moment)
    There will be a 3' walkway in between the inside pens, with doors going into each one so I can collect eggs, clean, etc. Without letting all the cool/warm air out.
    My rabbits and chickens as it is aren't fairing well in this heat so they will have an a/c heater unit so I can keep the temps inside reasonable, without working myself to the bone like I am now. (the brooder area is at the opposite end of the A/C to limit the amount of cool air that gets to them.
    I was thinking painted sheet metal for the outside of the building, to help with warping etc. Is that completely insane? It won't be just a metal building I will have wood on the inside but put the metal on the outside to help keep the wood safe from the elements and maybe add another layer to keep the heat in/out.

    I haven't added a shelter to the plans for the "rooster" pen but there will be one. This pen hopefully won't be used to much, but if I have roosters/cockrells that I don't want breeding anything or I am selling/giving away etc I can seperate them from the rest. The "breeding pens" won't be used in the winter months either.
    The "chick pen" will double as a brooder inside until they are old enough to venture outside, then the door will be opened for them.

    Oh inside, the pens will be solid wood up about 3' and chicken wire the rest of the way up to help with airflow.

    Ignore the rabbit side of the plans lol. I am not showing or breeding anything right now, but have full intentions to when I am set up for it. But I would rather build for it now then later on wish I had.

    Please remember I'm not a professional so my demensions etc may be off on this first draft.

    Also if you would like to add things that you wish you had done with your pen/coop... or things you wish you hadn't done and why would be awesome. I really don't want to spend the money it is going to take to build this... then figure out that I made a "rookie" coop building mistake and hate it. lol

    Oh I don't know if it matters but we will start with the building, and 1 chicken run and 1 doe run and keep building from there.

    If you read this much of my rambling... Thank You!
     
  2. Skye_k23

    Skye_k23 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 24, 2011
    Northern New Mexico
    I dont have alot of advice just wanted to tell you that the plans look great. I would not put sand down though. May as well let them enjoy the grass till they kill it lol.
    Brook
     
  3. juliawitt

    juliawitt Chillin' With My Peeps

    368
    8
    121
    Aug 9, 2009
    I know that everyone tries to keep expenses to the minimun and I agree, but we used only the best products, wood, windows, hardware etc. We knew that we would have this coop for a very long time. We wanted it to add value to our home, so we spent more than we oringinally thought we would, but the end product is amazing. Anytime we have company, they gravitate to the hen house and hear lots of good things about how nice it looks and what a good addition to our land.[​IMG]. Great looking plans and have fun, that's what chickens are all about.
     
  4. Pinx

    Pinx Chillin' With My Peeps

    286
    1
    101
    May 18, 2011
    Amarillo, Texas
    I agree with keeping expenses to a minimum but my husband and I also want this coop to last a long time. I think what I was getting at with the price issue is if I could (for example) build them a partial metal roof in their run for shade or a partial wood roof in their run for shade. Both would last but one may be cheaper then the other but still accomplishing the same thing. I don't want to take "short cuts" but get the best bang for my buck. If that makes ANY sense at all lol.

    The house we are buying is Cheap Cheap Cheap! Basically the horrible mess outside and an old house that needs to be torn down brought the value of the house down drastically, possibly tripling(sp) our money if we sale later on after it is paid for. So the possibility of re-sale with this new house is great. We don't want to build a chicken pen that could possibly bring down the value of the house, but if we do decide to stay in this house we (I) want a chicken pen that I won't need to be constantly adding on to/repairing ect. I am in NO WAY dogging on anyone elses coops, I have seen some very nice coops made out of scrap wood, but with this my theory is go big or go home, but not so big I don't have a home lol. I also understand that a HUGE chicken/rabbit setup like this make scare some buyers away and that is fine, someone will eventually come along that Loves it, and still pay what we want.

    Love your coop by the way, but what is hanging in the tree?
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    108
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Good quality aviary netting (it is like fishing net) will sag in snow but generally bounces back. however if a raccoon or possum *wants* to rip a hole in it they can. If you want something truly raccoon/possum-proof I would suggest livestock-grade 2x4" welded wire mesh fencing. It will need closer-spaced support than aviary netting does though.

    What can I put up as far as shade that will look nice? I thought about a wood roof over part of the run but I wasn't sure if there was any other great ideas.

    An actual solid roof is best of course, but also expensive. COnsider shadecloth (although for a really large area that's not entirely cheap either), not just on the top but also on the S and W sides of the run b/c a surprising amount of sun comes in slantywise even if the roof is creating shade. Shadecloth doesn't flap and self-destruct or break apart your run structure the way tarps do; it also doesn't catch rain and collapse the way tarps do.

    Another option would be shadecloth on the top, and grow dense vining plants up a trellis just outside the S and W walls of the run. Although this won't give you your S and W shade til the plants have got reasonably large.

    Also, should I go ahead and lay sand throughout the whole run? I imagine they will eat the grass down to dirt anyway, even though they will have a turnout yard. If I made it half sand half grass would my grass in the runs stand a better chance, or will it just be a lost cause.

    Lost cause. That said, unless it would be much much easier to add the sand before fencing in the runs, I'd mildly argue for waiting til they DO destroy the grass BEFORE adding sand. May's well let them get a bit of fun out of the grass before it's gone [​IMG]

    My rabbits and chickens as it is aren't fairing well in this heat so they will have an a/c heater unit so I can keep the temps inside reasonable<snip>I was thinking painted sheet metal for the outside of the building, to help with warping etc. Is that completely insane? It won't be just a metal building I will have wood on the inside but put the metal on the outside to help keep the wood safe from the elements and maybe add another layer to keep the heat in/out.

    You absolutely seriously need to insulate, well and thickly. If it were me I'd do 6" stud walls (instead of the usual 4") to keep a/c bills down and reduce the size of the a/c unit I needed to buy, although that is optional. Be real smart to choose LIGHT-colored metal siding instead of barn red or dark brown or something like that.

    How is the a/c going to work with the runs? Will you be opening the popdoors to the runs only when the a/c is not on? Or what? If the popdoors are open when the a/c is on, you will be losing massive amounts of cool air and wasting a lot of electricity. A pair of flap-covered popdoors structured like an airlock would reduce this some but you'd still be in large part running your a/c to cool all of Texas [​IMG]

    Oh inside, the pens will be solid wood up about 3' and chicken wire the rest of the way up to help with airflow.

    Make sure you've thought about how the a/c will affect this. Depending on the size and location of the unit, it would not be hard to get a situation where the pens nearest the a/c get very cold and the further ones not so much, b/c you have largely prevented ground-level air circulation. Perhaps you could have them mesh all the way to the floor and then only attach solid (or semi-solid) material to ones where you actually have PROBLEMS with adjacent animals fighting?

    Also if you would like to add things that you wish you had done with your pen/coop... or things you wish you hadn't done and why would be awesome.

    One thing to consider -- it would not be easy to incorporate into your plans, but I'm warning you that it can be aggravating [​IMG] -- is the lack of people doors from pens to runs. I have this problem myself due to the structure of the preexisting building I'm using, and let me tell you how HUGE a pain in the butt it is when a couple chickens or turkeys decide they'd like to stay outdoors a bit longer. You can't just walk thru the pen into the run and chase them in and close the door. You have to go alllll the way around outside and chase them in... and in my case the aggravation is greatly magnified by not having any good means of closing the popdoors from outside. So I have to go around outside and chase them in, then sprint in and hope they're still IN for long enough for me to drop the popdoor. I have resorted to using a piece of 2x4 to prop the popdoor open (with the rope latch released) so I can remove the prop to drop the door when I'm outside... but that is very inelegant and time-wasting. However I am not sure what would be a good popdoor design that can be operated easily both from outside AND from inside (preferably without having to actually *enter* the pen or run) yet would still be predatorproof. If you think of one, lemme know [​IMG]

    You might also consider making some of your run dividers moveable/removable. Particularly the ones down at the end (the wedge-shaped runs). It may be that sometime you have a LARGE number of grow-outs and no roosters, or something like that, and it is awful nice to be able to adjust the size of the runs to the chicken population without splitting a group up into different pens which is more work.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  6. juliawitt

    juliawitt Chillin' With My Peeps

    368
    8
    121
    Aug 9, 2009
    The "things" hanging are the heavy line we strung to hang our netting on. We also had shiny tin plates and CDs handing before we got the netting up. Hawks have been our only predators that made it into the run. Since the netting.....nothing. One very small oppossum made it through the fence, only to have my alpha chicken, Sam literally kill it. Sam is large and she is in charge.

    No A/C for my girls. I'm afraid of them getting sick from going out and in. We put vents that automatically open on the bottom, west side of the coop, with large opening windows on the East and South. We then placed a thermostatically controled vent fan on the high north side. Makes for a lovely, cooling breeze. In the winter, all the vents self-close. We place a calf barn heater in the segregation area--Girls cannot get to it and it cannot tip over. It keeps it around 40 degrees even when it is zero outside.

    I have a rather demanding job, and my husband has to go out of town with his, so our fencing is buried 8 inches, the posts are set in cement and the fencing is 6 foot with a foot of fence bent in. A predator might be able to wiggle in, but they'll have a heck of a time getting out. We have an automatic chicken door, so if I'm late getting home, I don't have to worry. I know the girls are locked in safe and tight. I haven't put in an automatic light yet. I always want to "tuck" them in, no matter what time I get home. Once, in a great while, a chickens has missed "curfew" and when I check on them, I have to put them in......but it usually only happens once....they learn quick. [​IMG] vent fan
    [​IMG] segregation area. Make sure you have one. A life saver if a chicken is under the weather or for young pullets that are too little to go with the big girls. Let's everyone see each other, but not touch.[​IMG] A pic of the side view.

    I have to add a picture of our opossum killing Sam. She is posing in this picture. Yes, she knows she is beautiful. She also wants to know where her flat screen is........Dad hasn't added that yet!
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Pinx

    Pinx Chillin' With My Peeps

    286
    1
    101
    May 18, 2011
    Amarillo, Texas
    Quote:Good quality aviary netting (it is like fishing net) will sag in snow but generally bounces back. however if a raccoon or possum *wants* to rip a hole in it they can. If you want something truly raccoon/possum-proof I would suggest livestock-grade 2x4" welded wire mesh fencing. It will need closer-spaced support than aviary netting does though.

    What can I put up as far as shade that will look nice? I thought about a wood roof over part of the run but I wasn't sure if there was any other great ideas.

    An actual solid roof is best of course, but also expensive. COnsider shadecloth (although for a really large area that's not entirely cheap either), not just on the top but also on the S and W sides of the run b/c a surprising amount of sun comes in slantywise even if the roof is creating shade. Shadecloth doesn't flap and self-destruct or break apart your run structure the way tarps do; it also doesn't catch rain and collapse the way tarps do.

    Another option would be shadecloth on the top, and grow dense vining plants up a trellis just outside the S and W walls of the run. Although this won't give you your S and W shade til the plants have got reasonably large.

    Also, should I go ahead and lay sand throughout the whole run? I imagine they will eat the grass down to dirt anyway, even though they will have a turnout yard. If I made it half sand half grass would my grass in the runs stand a better chance, or will it just be a lost cause.

    Lost cause. That said, unless it would be much much easier to add the sand before fencing in the runs, I'd mildly argue for waiting til they DO destroy the grass BEFORE adding sand. May's well let them get a bit of fun out of the grass before it's gone [​IMG]

    My rabbits and chickens as it is aren't fairing well in this heat so they will have an a/c heater unit so I can keep the temps inside reasonable<snip>I was thinking painted sheet metal for the outside of the building, to help with warping etc. Is that completely insane? It won't be just a metal building I will have wood on the inside but put the metal on the outside to help keep the wood safe from the elements and maybe add another layer to keep the heat in/out.

    You absolutely seriously need to insulate, well and thickly. If it were me I'd do 6" stud walls (instead of the usual 4") to keep a/c bills down and reduce the size of the a/c unit I needed to buy, although that is optional. Be real smart to choose LIGHT-colored metal siding instead of barn red or dark brown or something like that.

    How is the a/c going to work with the runs? Will you be opening the popdoors to the runs only when the a/c is not on? Or what? If the popdoors are open when the a/c is on, you will be losing massive amounts of cool air and wasting a lot of electricity. A pair of flap-covered popdoors structured like an airlock would reduce this some but you'd still be in large part running your a/c to cool all of Texas [​IMG]

    Oh inside, the pens will be solid wood up about 3' and chicken wire the rest of the way up to help with airflow.

    Make sure you've thought about how the a/c will affect this. Depending on the size and location of the unit, it would not be hard to get a situation where the pens nearest the a/c get very cold and the further ones not so much, b/c you have largely prevented ground-level air circulation. Perhaps you could have them mesh all the way to the floor and then only attach solid (or semi-solid) material to ones where you actually have PROBLEMS with adjacent animals fighting?

    Also if you would like to add things that you wish you had done with your pen/coop... or things you wish you hadn't done and why would be awesome.

    One thing to consider -- it would not be easy to incorporate into your plans, but I'm warning you that it can be aggravating [​IMG] -- is the lack of people doors from pens to runs. I have this problem myself due to the structure of the preexisting building I'm using, and let me tell you how HUGE a pain in the butt it is when a couple chickens or turkeys decide they'd like to stay outdoors a bit longer. You can't just walk thru the pen into the run and chase them in and close the door. You have to go alllll the way around outside and chase them in... and in my case the aggravation is greatly magnified by not having any good means of closing the popdoors from outside. So I have to go around outside and chase them in, then sprint in and hope they're still IN for long enough for me to drop the popdoor. I have resorted to using a piece of 2x4 to prop the popdoor open (with the rope latch released) so I can remove the prop to drop the door when I'm outside... but that is very inelegant and time-wasting. However I am not sure what would be a good popdoor design that can be operated easily both from outside AND from inside (preferably without having to actually *enter* the pen or run) yet would still be predatorproof. If you think of one, lemme know [​IMG]

    You might also consider making some of your run dividers moveable/removable. Particularly the ones down at the end (the wedge-shaped runs). It may be that sometime you have a LARGE number of grow-outs and no roosters, or something like that, and it is awful nice to be able to adjust the size of the runs to the chicken population without splitting a group up into different pens which is more work.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​

    Thanks so much for the reply, you've given me a lot to think about. [​IMG]

    We don't have a problem where I am with racoons or possums, I have heard of a possum or two at my mom's place 10 miles away but that is about the extent of it. The biggest thing we have to worry about is rattlesnakes, those suckers are everywhere. My poor Boxer either always tries to kill them or isn't smart enough to realize that you don't smell those things, he has been bit in the face at least 4 times by rattlesnakes, and hit twice by porcupines.
    My Doberman and Boxer will have the run of the place including the chickens turn out yard, when the chickens are all put up. So hopefully [​IMG] she uses her prey drive for something other then stray cats, and makes herself useful. I'm not counting on it though lol.
    Is there anything I can do to keep the rattlesnakes out of the coop/runs? The worst feeling in the world is walking around then hearing a rattler and not knowing where it is. I've heard that goat urine repels rattlesnakes? Anyone know if this is true? I may have to add a goat pen in there somewhere [​IMG]

    Is the aviary net hard to work with?
    Is the shadecloth hard to work with?



    As far as the a/c goes I was going to put something in like a doggy door with the plastic flap to kind of keep the air in, and if I needed to just shut the doors, but I wasn't sure how well that would work. I won't be running the a/c all the time just to take the edge off the really hot days in the summer. Maybe turn it on at about 11:00 so it won't be playing keep up all day and off when it started to cool off, but that would only be for days that got to about 95 or higher. As much as I would love for them to have an a/c running all the time, I can't afford it, especially with all the holes I am putting in that building, I think the a/c may give out before it actually got it cool.

    I had thought about putting doors from the coop to the run, I figured if I wanted something caught I would close the door behind them when they went in the run, go around and get them... I didn't even think about how big of a headache that would have been after a while lol. I'll add some doors from coop to run in my plans.

    For the Metal, To match the house it will be a tan/cream color with dark brown trim. Oh and the building will be insulated, I can't see doing all this work and not going the extra mile to insulate.

    I guess as far as the wedge shape runs, I could put a door in between each run to be left open if I want. I hadn't thought about maybe wanting to used them all as one big pen sometimes.

    Fencing for the outside of the runs is really getting to me. My doberman has been known to destroy chicken wire quick, For the outside of the runs, at least low enough that she can reach... Having the 2x4 welded wire on the outside, but what on the inside? It needs to be small enough little chicken heads can't fit through it, and maybe even small enough she can't get her teeth in it to get a good grip. But still strong. Any ideas?​
     

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