I want to design and build my own coop, but, I'm soooo clueless

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by kvmommy, Jan 10, 2011.

  1. kvmommy

    kvmommy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 2, 2011
    Ok, here are my questions and they're probably pretty dumb.

    Does the coop need to be off the ground?
    Whats a roost supposed to look like? A ladder or just poles across the top?
    Whats a poop board?
    I hear people lay down linoleum, but hear others talk of hay, which is it or both?
    Do the chicken doors shut in the winter to keep out the cold?
    Do they need windows?

    Hmmm...I think that's it. If anyone wants to include a pic of the inside of their coop, I'd appreciate it. [​IMG]
  2. Chicken.Lytle

    Chicken.Lytle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 19, 2010
    Montgomery County, TX
    Quote:Firstly, BYC has a big page full of coop designs. I wish I had spent more time there before I built mine. To learn what not to do and how to correct it , look at my blog posts, via my BYC page or my sig.

    1. Good idea to keep coop off the ground. Gives birds a place to hang out that is dry and shady.
    2. Roost can be a branch or a board or a shelf. I started with a closet rod and switched to 2x4 wide side up. My roost is low, so no ladder needed. Helps maintain the peace if all roosts are same height (and highest point in coop).
    3. Poop board is a surface under the roost that can be scraped to remove their droppings.
    4. I used a hardi siding panel for the coop floor. Others use linoleum, cement, dirt, wood. Most put pine shavings or straw/hay over that.
    5. Winter nights need closed doors to prevent drafts. The pop door for chickens should be closed at night so predators do not kill the chickens.
    6. Windows are less important than ventilation. They need enough ventilation to keep the fumes and moisture out of their lungs. Check out Pat's ventilation page .
  3. Coops are like people.....Lots of character and all are a little different.

    I recommend looking through the Coop Designs to get an Idea what YOU want and then throw in some of your own personality and then start your project.
    I like my coop off the ground but that is just one way to approach. Your climate and breeds will dictate to a certain extent what you need.
    I like my roosts to be as big (3'' diameter or bigger) and ROUND as possible. Some people like 2 x 4's wide side up. Both work well.
    Poop board is set under the roosts to catch that great fertilizer "stuff".
    Vinyl glued to your coop floor makes it easier and more sanitary. And you can just throw your shavings or hay or straw on top of the vinyl and then rake out as needed.
    Shutting doors is a good idea if predation and coldness dictate.
    Windows are a very good thing in a coop. Necessary. Open windows or portholes for ventilation.

    Hope you build the best coop ever.

  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    The wide roost is for when it gets cold and their feet are covered by feathers when they hunker down. I still like to round the edges off just a bit.
    My hens like to roost as high as possible.
    The roosts need to be higher than the nest boxes or they'll roost in the nest. That makes for poopy eggs.
    The height of the nest boxes isn't critical, the bottom of the entrance to mine is about 10" above the floor bedding. A perch in front of the nest box helps them get in and out. My nest boxes are attached to the side of the coop. Birds enter from inside the coop but I can lift the lid for eggs so I don't have to go inside. If you have an outside access to nest boxes make sure it has a very secure latch. Racoons love to figure that stuff out.
    This makes it a little colder but my uninsulated coop is so cold it doesn't make much difference anyway.
    I like windows for ventilation but don't use screens, use hardware cloth or anything an animal can't tear out.
    Also I only have windows on one side to prevent cross drafts. Mine are on the east but south is good too.
    Openings to the east picks up the morning sun. This lengthens the day to stimulate more laying.
    Electric is a good idea because you may want to add a light and timer in fall and winter.
    Mine is a gambrel roof type bldg with the roosts up in the roof area and if I had it to do over, I would have put the windows in dormers up there so the light would reach them earlier. Those windows probably would have had glass though.
    I also have a trap door on one side at floor level so I can just rake out the shavings and fertilizer into a wheelbarrow.
    Research 'deep litter' bedding. I only clean mine out 3 or 4 times a year.
    The #1 critical thing is security (no critters can get in) from rodents and snakes to mountain lions.
    The #2 critical thing is plenty of ventilation without creating a draft. More birds become ill from bad air and overly humid interior than cold.
    Good luck and don't sweat it, inevitably you'll wish you had done something else after you're done. However chickens can live in just about anything.
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I don't know where you are but if you have any periods of a lot of rain you'll want some type of roof at least where the chickens go in and out so that isn't muddy. The area just outside the coop will become a wasteland devoid of vegetation no matter what you do - add rain and you have mud.
    If possible, wherever their run will be, plant something like alfalfa and dandelions long before you move chickens in.
    Once they get established their tap roots will go almost to the water table and it will take the chickens a long time to kill them.
  6. midget_farms

    midget_farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dunlap Illinois
    I took the easy way out. I bought a simple put it otgether yourself 8x10 garden shed from Menards when they went on sale last spring.

    You can use a ladder for a roost - but if you get cold winters they need a flat or wide board so they can sit on their feet.

    The rest is up to you & totally optional! Do what works best for you. The chickens won't mind!

    Raising the coop off the ground helps keep out mice - but is not necessary -
  7. mommyofthreewithchicks

    mommyofthreewithchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 25, 2010
    Lots and LOTS of ways of doing it. A lot depends on your situation- your weather, how many chickens you are going to have.

    For me I have my chickens on the ground but I had buildings already on the property and have retro fit them for chickens [​IMG] I use straw because again I had it on the property but I also use wood shavings for in the nesting boxes. I also have more birds than some so I needed an actual building and something small wouldn't do.

    My roosts were actually already there as I am using an old barn and there were pens for calves so the chickens perch on the wood dividers. Poop boards are what people put under the roosts as chickens like to poo while they roost so the most mess is created at night and thus the poop boards help with cleaning.

    The doors or windows in my area do need to shut for cold weather but again they need to be able to open for summer.... Plus you always need to have vents to let in fresh air.

    Windows are nice for natural light. For hens to lay eggs they need light, which in the winter is key. In the summer they normally get enough light to lay but I am guessing you are letting the chickens out for this.
  8. catdaddy66

    catdaddy66 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 18, 2009
    Lugoff, SC
    Quote:1) I have found that a coop off of the ground 1.5-2' saves the farmer a LOT of stooping and bending. It is the main drawback to my coop and one I will repair soon.
    2) A roost should be a length of material that is 24-36" off of the floor of the coop for the birds to sleep on; it is an instinct for them to be off the ground at night to avoid predators. It can be set up in single boards or a ladder configuration. The most common are 2"x4" with the wide side for them to step on. This allows their feet to stay flat and their breasts to keep them warm in winter.
    3) A poop board is a thin flat board under the roost to catch the droppings. 65-75% of droppings are done while roosting, so this makes cleanup a lot easier.
    4) Linoleum is for ease of cleaning. Any coop needs to be cleaned periodically and this surface is easy to sweep and scrub (not sticky, moisture resistant).
    5) Any well designed coop should have good ventilation but not be drafty. Openings around the top that are wire/mesh enclosed offer great airflow and resist predator incursion. Chickens are actually quite cold tolerant to about 0-10 degrees F. I had snow this am and temp was 25 F; my girls were happy and healthy w/o distress.
    6) Windows do allow light to warm the coop while stimulating the birds, mostly for egg production. Shorter days/hours of light decrese egg production, so many BYC'ers use artificial light sources to "lengthen" the day and fool the chickens into laying better.

    Here are pics of the outdoor/indoor of my coop:
  9. Kaceyx73

    Kaceyx73 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 14, 2010
    I think most of the answers you are getting are spot on. I will add one thing, or more appropriately expound on one point.

    As a relatively new chicken owner, I did a pretty good job of designing and building my first coop. Mine sounds a lot like everyone's. It is a 4x6, with 4ft walls, and is a bit higher in the middle with the gabled roof. Their door is on the south side (a long side) leading into their original run. I even rigged a lightweight chain over a couple of nails to raise and lower their door without going into the coop. Mom lets them out in the morning, so I wanted her to be able to take care of such things without tripping over them, or possibly dealing with an aggressive roo. The west side has a triple nest box attached from the outside, with a lid. I agree that that is an important consideration. The other short side on the east is a plain wall. The north side has a 2ft wide door so that I can clean out the coop and get inside for repairs and such. To either side of it, is a 1ft square window with 1/4" hardware cloth. Just like with their door, I cut them out with a jigsaw, and simply added a hinge and latches to the cutout and put them back in place. My coop is about 30" high at the floor, perfect to pull a wheelbarrow right up for cleaning. Its also high enough for the full grown roosters to walk around underneath. There are two main roosts running along the 6ft sides, set inside about 8", and are 2x4s wide side up. They are about 3ft off the floor. There is a single bar, narrow side up, running right down the middle, and about 15" off the floor. This is mainly so they can jump onto it, then jump to the main roosts. For my girls, they seldom even flap to jump anywhere in the coop, which they routinely do.

    The point I wanted to bring up is lighting. I am not a big fan of having to run electricity to the coop. I have learned, though, to make sure you take into account that your chickens will get adequate light before roosting time. Apparently they dont see well in the dark. Jumping up to a roost in the dark isn't easy, hence they will usually be on the roost before dark. They will get fussy over favored roosting spots, and occasionally someone winds up on the floor as it gets dark. You will see quite a few posts on here about hens sleeping in the nest boxes... a hen knocked off the roost with it too dark will find somewhere to feel safe during the night, usually the nest. I don't think they need an electric light on a timer, they just need natural light as long as possible. I never had this problem until it started getting cold enough to close the windows up during the day. The first day I had the windows closed, I was amused t watch my adult rooster Vic walk into the coop at roosting time, only to walk right back with a puzzled look. He walked back in, then poked his head out and looked at the sky. It was light out, but dark in. I opened one of the windows, and he promptly found him a spot to roost. I also noticed that when I found one of the girls in the nest after dark, shining a flashlight inside would prompt her to back to the roost. Last night, before the snow hit, I found 2 still walking around in the run an hour after dark. Same thing. I gave them a lighted way into the coop, and up they went.

    I may add some plexiglas panels for the windows the next time it warms up. That way I can leave the windows closed for warmth but give them enough light. For the time being, I did put a tap light in the coop that I can turn off from the outside via the nest box. I can leave the windows closed on really cold days, and turn the tap light on just before roosting, and turn it off when I lock them up without disturbing them. I hang out with them at the big door while they are fussing over roosts, and lock them up after they settle down.

    I'll add a few pics of my set up. Don't despair over coop design. The only flights of fancy in coop design should be your own personal aesthetics. Mine is simple 2x4 frame covered with exterior grade OSB sheathing. The shingles were leftover from roofing the house many years ago. I have the linoleum to put on the floor, but after 6 months still haven't done it, but no problems. I use straw for bedding. Every few days a take a short rake with long tines and shake around in the straw. Nearly all of the poop falls through to the bottom, and once every couple of months, or more if it noticeably starts smelling, I rake all of it out and put down new bedding. Their food and water is set on bricks under the coop to keep the rain off. So far, I haven't had any real issues, other than the lighting. I don't even have poop boards.
    Here is the set up of the roosts, you can see their door on the opposite side.

    Here are my girls hiding inside from the snow. My 4x6 coop is great for keeping them cozy in cold weather, but I really need more space under a roof or awning so they can be outside and out of the weather. It houses 11 RIR hens and a RIR cockerel (all nearly 6 months), and an adult cross bred rooster. Great for roosting, but I need to hurry up and cover the original run.
    Here you can see the cockerel, Roo, with a couple of the ladies. He walks around with his head over 2ft tall, and Vic is bigger. You can see they have plenty headroom.
  10. TK421

    TK421 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 24, 2010
    Central TX

    I only add a few questions for you to think about, which helped me tremendously when I designed my setup:

    1) How do I envision (my wife/daughter) collecting my eggs?
    this means the nestbox needed to be accessible from outside
    2) Do I want to bend over while cleaning my coop?
    This means the run needed to be taller than me
    3) What is my climate?
    For me, this means that cold doesn't matter, but extreme heat does
    4) What location and materials do I already have?
    5) Do I care what it looks like/ Will my neighbors see it?

    I am VERY proud of my setup, and it didn't cost me a bunch of money. Be sure to look through the hundreds of coop designs and pick the best features from each one! My whole story is on my BYC page, but here's a quick look at my coop/run:


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