In dire need of coop/flock advice! (A little long, sorry!)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by crzychkn, Feb 24, 2015.

  1. crzychkn

    crzychkn Out Of The Brooder

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    May 22, 2014
    Texas boonies
    Hiya!

    So we have what I feel is a bit of an odd coop situation and I am trying like the dickens to 'solve' it-find a working solution. Sigh.

    Ok, so we started out a year ago building an A-frame coop on a concrete pad. The pad/base size of the coop is 4 feet wide, 8 feet long and 8 feet tall at the peak. Inside are multiple roosts staggered so no one poops on anyone else, for the most part, LoL, and nesting boxes. It has served our girls very well. We have 7 hens that currently sleep here. (It was originally 3.) Meanwhile we also have 2 silkie hens and 1 silkie roo. They free ranged with the big girls during the day but at night 2 of the girls lower in the pecking order were excessively aggressive with them, so we got the 3 of them their own little coop for nights. THEN, LoL, we ended up with 2 more hens that while they are full fledged members of the 'daytime' flock, they are chicken-non-grata with the 'night time' flock. Meaning they are VERY not welcome to roost with the big girls at night-despite being big girls themselves. Ugh. So we had another little coop for isolation or whatever, so it became their night time coop. I have 3 coops. They are all together so it is like alittle chicken village! During the day they have a HUGE huge area in which to free range, and when weather is bad they hang out up by the house either under the overhang from the house or in one of the 'shelters' we erected to give them a respite from rain and wind. So they only lay in the coops and sleep in the coops. As to be expected.

    My two silkie hens are currently in their little coop with a large run as they now have 9 babies. The silkie roo has been very successfully integrated into sleeping with the 2 hens in their coop-their idea, too! The babies are not yet old enough to join the flock, and as it was the dead of winter we had to bring the Momma hens in to hatch etc. SO we have to reintegrate them now. They are all doing well thru the fence and I look forward to being able to have them all free range together in the future.

    Meanwhile I am looking for a coop solution. I have 'shopped' online, and I am still looking at all the amazing photos and plans of coops on here! I really could use some advice/imagination on setting up something that would be big enough for 21 chickens, but not be some massive fixture in the yard, but also, inside, I was thinking of separating the inside into 2 areas with some hardware cloth. The silkie posse on one side and the big girls on the other. I have yet to decide which side the little roo and 2 hens will be on-that will depend on how successful integration goes with the babies! :) Ideally I dream of 1 fully integrated flock in 1 coop. Perhaps I am dreaming. But I do know that I could get away with 2 coops instead of 3.

    There inlies the problem. How big? Do I build/buy two or make 1 larger with a divider? If I make one my brain is getting very upset at me as I cannot decide on a 'floor plan'. (If you ever saw the program Monk, well, I have issues when I have too many options, too! LoL) How much space do silkies require vs big girls? I have read 4 sq ft per regular size chicken-but is that living space or sleeping space, or is it the same? I cannot seem to retain that bit of info. I have told my husband what I want and he is sketching ideas-some brilliant ones, too, but I keep second guessing what I have going on and what I am trying to do and keep thinking I am not doing this right. Am I totally delusional to believe my silkie posse and the 2 hens might someday be able to join the big girls at night? Should I build toward that goal? See, I read and read and read, and despite my girls, and boy, all thriving and being healthy and happy I just don't have the confidence that I am doing the right thing coop-wise. Sigh.

    What would y'all do? I am sitting here staring out at them all happily scratching and investigating whatever it is our roo just found for them and am just baffled. How we got to this point of 3 coops is a long and complicated story that is rather superfluous at this juncture because we still have 3 coops regardless of how we got here. Oh I would so welcome your ideas and love to hear what you would do. If I am doing something that I should do differently, I welcome hearing that! Constructive criticism is gladly accepted! :)

    Thank you for taking the time to read my long post and for any help/advice you may offer!
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Most coops for sale oline or even shown off are enclosed, and in your cliate, that is the last thing they need. They are much more sensitive to heat than cold, and need access to shade and good breeze -- even in winter, on sunny warm days. If it weren't for redators, they would need nothing at all, or at most, a roof and one or two walls for the coldest or wettest days.

    If you don't worry about nighttime security, you might just put up a three sided rectangular shelter with a long side open to the east. That way you could divide it in two if you wish, and it would be easy enough to run two roosts on each side, along the wall. You could put your nests below the roosts if you are going to build them, with angled tops so you can brush the poop off, or a shelf and poop boards. Or perhaps a nesting cluster in the middle of the building.

    These are just offhand thoughts; mostly I wanted to give you a link to the thread below for coops in ot weather areas.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/163417/please-show-me-your-hot-weather-coops

    I don't think you need to worry much about space, with their free ranging like that, though more space also makes for easier cleaning. I have another link, to a great article about space:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

    Hope this helps, and good luck!
     
  3. crzychkn

    crzychkn Out Of The Brooder

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    May 22, 2014
    Texas boonies
    Excellent links! Thank you! I clicked and read right away! Definitely helpful while we try to figure out size! We do, unfortunately, have night time predators-fox, coyote, raccoon, possum, and the bobcat are slowly coming closer-eeek! Between your links, and even more research, and my brain spinning and my dear patient husband listening to me prattle at 700 million words per second, LoL, for the moment, until I go 'Monk' again in a little while, :p I think we are going to build one larger sleeping coop that will incorporate the idiosyncrasies of each chicken that I have observed in the last year and HOPE, if we allow proper space, to avoid some of the more violent confrontations. Sigh. Now keep in mind I kinda need to delude myself a little in order to be able to stick to a decision! LoL But I always have a backup plan! :p And as always, plans are subject to change at any moment! My dear husband is so patient! :) So, for now, I will be getting creative on the interior design and once I think I have a scenario that may work, which may be way off as I do not have a chicken brain, I will figure the size based off of that. Oh boy. LoL I basically still have no clue what will come in 2 weeks when we get materials and begin construction! LoL
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Your idea that a little more space can keep things more peadeful is very wise, very true. When you think about it, if they free range together without difficulty, that kind of says it all -- they have room to get away from each other.

    OK, 20 chickens (to round off) works out to 80 sq ft by the old formula, which is supposedly the minimum to prevent severe pecking problems. And since some are Silkies, that number is a little large as the formula is for large fowl, not bantams. So, an 8'x10' structure would do it. You could build it with a roof that had its high point on one 10' wall and low point on the other. Then make the one with the high point the open end. Then just build out from that to make a secure run, so the "coop" would only have 3 sides.

    The truth is, if you built in that manner, the 8' wall could be much smaller, maybe 4' or 5', because they would never be enclosed in the coop area.

    Just some thoughts about how my brain would enfvision this. I'm not quite following how you plan to deal with predators and still free range, so that muddies things up a lot.

    Another approach: chickens of course don't like change and will likely be inclined to want to continue to roost wherever they are accustomed to roosting, so it might work out better simply to take down a couple of walls and combine the coops you have into one. Your husband should aporeciate that this should take less work than startig over, too. It may in the end depend how "pretty" you need your yard to be; I've never fussed with that sort of thing much.

    Well, all that may be of no use to you at all. I'm sure you will work it out.

    As for not having a chicken brain, well, they are not fussy. If they have food, water and elbow room, they will be happy!
     
  5. crzychkn

    crzychkn Out Of The Brooder

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    May 22, 2014
    Texas boonies
    Hi. I wrote a nice detailed reply to your wonderful response and just as i went to touch the submit button my ipad went all nutzy wacko and next thing i know my screen is blank and then on BYC homepage, my reply vanished! I have been so irritated with my ipad i didn't try again. I apologize for the lack in a response. Using my phone now-most frustrating, but wanted to at least come thank you! I have lots of food for thought and you have helped me greatly to get a better idea of what we need to construct for safety and comfort day and night! I'll have to take pics and share when we get there! Thank you, so very much, for your help!
     

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