I just built a coop and run!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Ishmam, Nov 14, 2015.

  1. Ishmam

    Ishmam New Egg

    Nov 14, 2015
    Hi! This is my first (hopefully of many!) posts on this forum, and I am 100% new to chickens. I have done a lot of research but nothing beats getting opinions first hand :) Some of the questions aren't purely coop and run/construction related, but most of the questions are related in one way or another.

    BACKGROUND INFO: We are located in Perth, Australia (significance of that being that temperatures get quite warm, and also availability of breeds of chicken etc). I am living in college and am only home for the holidays (21.y.o m), and last holidays I built a chicken coop and run for my parents. I thought they'd be rather lonely with no kids around anymore, so I figured it would be a nice little present that keeps giving.

    As Perth is ridiculously hot in Summer, most backyards don't have any lawn - it is all tiled. As such, I ripped up an area of tiles approx 1.5m x 3m (I am guessing this, as I am currently at college). It isn't the most space in the world, but for a cute couple two or three chickens is plenty. Also, I didn't want something that was incredibly difficult to maintain or was large, just a cute little setup off to the side of our house.


    1. What breed should I get? I have done a lot of research and everyone has their opinion. Since I am getting them three chooks, anything that produces 240ish+ per year is fine. I want birds that are heat tolerant (I have built the coop high enough for them to hang under in the heat, as well as an overlapping roof for shade. Lastly, I want birds that are a bit more chilled out, not so flighty like leghorns etc, birds that are content with scratching around and go about their business. I am also interested in keeping 2-3 types of chickens, mainly so its easy to monitor chook health based on egg quality and quantity. Currently considering 1 x Australorp and 2 x Hyline Browns. Do these seem ok/fit the bill?

    2. For a coop size of 12 ft sq off my memory, and run of about 45 ft sq is that enough for 3 chooks? I have read different figures for space per bird, and my idea of it was that if theres enough perch area during the night and a nesting box, the three of them have plenty of space outside. Three is absolute max I would consider, but if three is feasible - if two is the max then two it is.

    3. If I were to open the gate and let them wander around the tiled areas, whilst there isn't any vegetation for them to go at, there are plenty of bugs around - they'd take care of that for me nicely, but would they poop a lot? From what I have read, most pooping is done on the perches, so if I let them out for 2 or 3 hours in the afternoon is that going to wreck the backyard?

    4. Smell. I have tried to build a coop in a way thats easy to clean - the side opens up completely to the outside so you don't need to walk into the coop to access it, and I spaced the floor timbers 0.5cm apart so I can just hose the inside after removing the shavings. As the summer is really hot, naturally the smell will be slightly worse. I have read things about apple cider vinegar, are there any other tips to keeping the coop fresh for the birds?

    5. What to use for the run and coop. I am considering getting freshly mulched wood to lay along the run, as fresh mulch sucks up nitrogen and chicken poop has plenty of that to go around, and every 3 months or so I can just use the mulch for the garden. It is also cheap, if not free. I would have a section of just dust for them to bathe. I was thinking of mulch for inside the coop as well, or wood shavings (dried). Opinions/suggestions?

    I am a first timer to this all, so please correct me on any stupidity or ignorance! I have done a lot of reading and research (naturally during exam study week), but theres plenty to learn!

    Thank you in advance, even if you cannot answer any of my questions :)

    Pictures: One picture illustrates the side opening up for cleaning/egg collection, other picture shows the area I have ripped up and the coop/run. Link: http://imgur.com/a/L9CH8

    Thanks again, Ish
  2. hayley3

    hayley3 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 16, 2007
    Southern Indiana
    That looks like a lot of work you went through to get up those tiles. Whew! I love the ramp too.

    I would think straw would be better but mulch might work too...I also think it's big enough for 3 but you need to cover the top of the run with netting of some type. Don't want to restrict rain or sunshine but surely you have predators.

    Also chickens need a place to lay their eggs. So there needs to be some material (straw) inside the coop and an area that holds the straw otherwise it get scattered.

    Chickens poop anytime not just when they are perched. Mine like to perch up high to sleep.

    I wouldn't go over 3 but it looks awfully tiny inside if you have all 3 in there at the same time with what I am assuming is a nest box. Chickens like privacy when they lay their eggs.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Just attach the nesting box so you have external access to collecting eggs and saves on the coop space. Easy to do, use a circular saw or drill a hole then use jig saw to cut out a square 9X9 inches works well for large fowl but you can make the hole bigger. Not too big as the idea is for a secluded, secure area they will naturally want to hide eggs in. One box should do but if your thinking of getting more birds then two boxes which is really only one box with a divider and making the access hole from coop 18X9 inches. Make the box with three sides and attach to nailers on the outside of coop. Then attach a lid with hinges to the coop. I like the nest box to be a few inches above the bedding in coop, for example if I use 4 inches of pine shavings in the coop then the bottom of access to nests would be minimum of 6 inches up from floor. I use mulch hay (less expensive first cut hay) for nest box and pine shavings in coop.

    Let me see what I've got for photos to show what I mean about external box attachment:

    Here is a box that I made three nests in. Nests dimensions are 12X12. Side is 14 inches sloped to 12.


    Here is the 2x2 timber used as nailers to screw sides of nest box to and middle ones to nail a divider board to.

    I think you can see here it was just an oversize plywood with two hinges for lid and not stained yet.

    The back has a 4 foot access door and far end has a 14x14 plexiglass over 12x12 hole for light. Top is covered in 1/2" hardware cloth to stop weasels from getting in and rest is open to that high hat metal roof that provides the ventilation. Dimensions on this coop was 4x7' so I had extra decorative plywood to make nesting box and lid. The 2x3 L corners run entire height for stability as it's lag screwed to the runners so it can be pulled around by my riding lawn mower.

    If you want to see how this one was made and get some ideas maybe I put up a thread:


    I put up the Purina Chicken Hutch plans there too which is what this new one is loosely based on.
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    You can easily have 4 or 5 large fowl chickens in a 3x4 coop if the nest box is external mounted and you don't keep feed or water in there. I too do management where the birds are only in the coop to pass into nests to lay or at night to roost. Works great and really the only way to manage small coops. The smaller coops if too ever populated make for longer integration times of new birds but large runs are the key to happier birds and easier integration. I had a 4x4 coop for years and found 6-7 birds worked best, more than that led to hard integrations. On a relevant side note I was super late building my current layer coop this year. Had 14 hatch mate large fowl that put themselves to roost in a big rugby pile each night in a 3x3 grow out coop with no problems what so ever. They were 6 months old when new coop was built.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    We all have our preferences for breeds. Your choices sound great, but I’d say that for many other choices too.

    Chickens have no concept of whether space is in a coop or in a coop plus somewhere else. They just know that if they have room, they have room, wherever it is. If you wish you can follow the link in my signature to get some of my thoughts. That might help you decide how you want to manage them, but how many you can fit depends on the personality of the individual chicken (that can vary within a breed), how you manage them, how hard you want to work, and many other factors. You’ll see a lot of wildly different numbers thrown out as to how much room they need. That’s because they all can work, depending on a lot of different factors that make each of us unique.

    Some people would be horrified at the numbers Egghead mentioned, but with the right conditions and management they can work and the chickens will do quite well. In other conditions or with other management you could have problems.

    They do not do most of their pooping on the roosts. They ae pooping machines and poop wherever they are whenever they want to. At night they are on the roosts and not moving around so the poop is concentrated.

    Where do you hang out in your back yard in your hot sunny weather? I’d guess in the shade somewhere. While the chickens will forage in the sun, they will spend most of that hot sunny day in the shade. That’s where they are going to poop the most. If the only shady spot or their favorite shady spot is your back porch, guess where they will poop a lot.

    Heat is not a major problem as far as smell, wet is. Chickens and dry poop can have a bit of a smell, but many people find that to be a fresh outdoorsy smell. It should not be very strong. But when poop decomposes it makes ammonia, which can smell. If it is slightly damp that’s not too bad. The bugs that eat it and turn it into compost need a bit of moisture to live off of. But what you want are aerobic bugs eating it, just like in a compost pile. If it is too wet, anaerobic bugs take over and turn it slimy and stinky, really stinky. That smell is strong and awful.

    Poop can get wet in different ways, rain, spilled water from their waterer, or, if it gets too thick, it can just not dry out. In your climate poop management shouldn’t be too hard, but some people deal with it every day. What you are mainly looking for is good ventilation to help it dry out, keep it dry, and don’t let it build up too much. Your nose will tell you when you fail.

    I don’t know what kind of garden you are talking about, veggie, flower, or your back yard. Fresh chicken poop can burn certain plants, depending on the plants, how strong it is, and how close it is. If it is mixed with a lot of bedding material it may not be horribly strong but I’ve still burned tomato plants by getting it too close, even mixed with a lot of bedding (wood shavings) and after it was rained on to wash a lot of that stuff off. You are normally better off composting it first, before you use it on a garden. Compost is safe black gold. With the right techniques fresh poop and bedding can be beneficial but there is also a risk.

    Good luck!
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    The reason they seem to poop more on the perches is only because they're in the same place for so long. during the day they're moving around, thus spreading the poop around more. yep, they'll poop all over those tiles.

    I think your breeds sound great. you could toss an aracauna in there for good measure, for a bird that's more unusual looking and lays blue eggs.

    I think 3 is a good number to start. That's a small space, I wouldn't try to fit any more. In fact, I think that coop is going to heat up quite a bit in the summer with the three birds. I'd try to open it up a bit more for ventilation.

    The external nest box is a great idea.

    keeping the coop from smelling pretty much means keeping it clean. I use deep litter, but don't think it will work as well in this smaller space. You'll just have to change out shavings. Research poop boards, that can help manage manure and odor.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2015

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