Intheswamp's coop and run ponderings....

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Intheswamp, Jun 18, 2016.

  1. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, bear with me. I'm a newbie trying to put together plans for my coop....after seven years absence I figure it's about time. ;) Why does it seem like I'm trying to reinvent the wheel?

    Here are some basic things that I'm pretty much decided on (subject to change):


    Size: 8x12 coop with a large run

    Floor/foundation: 4x6x12' runners atop cement block piers. 2x6 floor joists. 4x8 sheets of Advantech.

    Siding: Sheet goods of some sort.

    Roof: 2/12 pitch simple shed roof. Either metal or roll-roofing.

    Covered part of run: I have some 8' sections of rigid commercial awning material so mayben 8' in front of coop will be covered or possibly 16'. Depending on how I orient the coop/run as to how wide the cover will be.


    I'm planning on leaning heavily to the open-air concept being as I'm in hot and humid south Alabama. Most recommendations are to situate the coop with the open end facing south. I have a small weather station and looking back over the last few years of data it appears my prevalent wind comes from the west (ranging from sw to nw)...naturally there are times when we get a easterly wind, but westerly is the norm. I am more concerned with keeping the chickens cool during the summer...I don't believe winter will be a problem for them.

    Would it be better to face the open end of the coop to the east or south? I'm leaning towards the east..but, how important is it for sunlight to try and reach the recesses of the coop?

    The location of the coop on the property is another question. Below is a map of the property. I really have no trees to build the coop beneath so will have to rely on afternoon shade. Inside the red lines is where I have to work with. I've roughly marked four different possible coop/run locations:

    Location 'A' would be to the west of the house in a small flat patch of hayfield. It would be somewhat shaded in the afternoon if I placed the coop over to the west edge of the patch beside the tree line. The prevailing wind, though, would have the coop and run inline with the house...possible smells. Also, the coop would mostly be out of sight of the house...which I don't particularly like. It would be somewhat close to the highway.

    Location 'B' has long been my "figured it'd be here" location. I could put the coop up somewhat close to the tree line there and have good afternoon shade. The land in this part of the property is terraced so the coop and run would be built on the low-side of a terrace to give it the most possible drainage...the land to the north slopes downward.

    Location 'C' is new to my thinking. It has some fairly level ground but is still terraced. This would be a very visible location for me which appeals to me. Big issue is NO SHADE.

    Location 'D' is the closest location to the house but is on the downwind side, a good thing except for those odd times the wind blows contrarily. This would be very handy to access. It would have shade in the afternoons. Our power line comes in over this area so I don't know if the power company would object to me building it here. This would be the closest location to the road.

    For now, I'm still leaning toward location 'B', but thought I'd see what ya'll thought.

    I'm no carpenter, never have built much of anything, but I'm not above giving it a shot! I've got some 2x8x14 untreated pine lumber and some 4x8x3/4 plywood available to me for the cost of some sweat. Would the 3/4" plywood work good for siding? I know I'd have to paint it, but would it be too heavy? Any reason not to use it? I thought about using the 2x8's for the roof rafters (I'm figuring on PT 2x6's for the floor joists)...would the 2x8's be too heavy?

    Anyhow, I've been wanting to post this for a while and finally got around to it. Basically the layout direction of the coop, the location choices, and whether using the plywood and 2x8's would be a good idea are my topics of interest...for now. ;)

    Thanks for your help. The property map is below...
    Ed

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  2. Dmontgomery

    Dmontgomery Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    Longville, La
    I'd go with location "B" for the afternoon shade. But would you be able to see them? That's part of the fun, watching them interact.
    2x8's are a lot for rafters but you could walk on it if you ever had to repair the roof. Hopefully you have help putting them up.
    I have an open design facing east. I don't know how far off the gulf you are but I didn't want a tropical storm (or worse) blowing rain in from the south. About 8' extra of my run is covered so I figure rain from the east won't get in the coop. It usually doesn't blow from that direction here.

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  3. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the feedback, Dmontgomery.

    "B" seems the most logical utilitarian location. It would be shady in the afternoon, a large enough area between terraces for both the coop and run, the most distant location from the highway, and, lastly, the prevailing winds *should* blow any smells away from the house. BUT the birds would be mostly out of sight unless you made an effort to go "'round back". It would also be closest to the pine forest behind the house. I've lived within 1/4 mile of here most all of my life and I've never seen a raccoon until a couple of years ago when we had one suffering from rabies or distemper come up. I have seen skunks, possums, a few red fox and coyotes....a heavy population of coyotes around here if you can go by the howling at night.<groan>

    I'm glad to hear of someone aiming their coop eastward. I'm about 90 miles inland from the gulf. Ivan and Opal taught me that that isn't far enough away to be protected from them. With the prevailing storms normally following a northeasterly trek through here I figured that east would give me the most rain/wind protection. We just had a front come through yesterday that put about 100,000 folks out of power...some are still out today. My weather station (www.beeweather.com) recorded a high gust of 41mph and the dominate wind being from the WNW. I think I will go with it facing the east...I'm already figuring I'll have some large windows on the other walls that I can open as I see need to. Facing east will also let me have a long side of the coop accessible from outside of the run. I'm hoping to have exterior nest boxes...so the people door and nest boxes could both be on that long side. Maybe a porch over them for a dry egg collecting area and coop entry. We'll see. :)

    I really like your setup. What is the size of your coop and run? Do you have more pictures of it?

    Thanks again for the feedback!

    Ed
     
  4. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    double post...BYC got hung up and I tried to post the reply a second time....
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2016
  5. Dmontgomery

    Dmontgomery Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    I really don't think I was much help other than supporting what you already thought was the right way to go. But thanks for the kind words.
    We moved north after retiring a few years ago. Now we are almost 45 miles from the gulf! (Like that's any safer) but at least we haven't had a major hurricane in nearly 8 years.
    My coop is 16'x16', 3 walls under the roof. The run is 16'x32' with the first 8' covered with metal and the rest chicken wire. I have lots of pictures of it. I haven't created a coop page yet, but plan to after I finish the landscaping around the exterior. Click on my avatar to go to my profile then scroll to the bottom to see my photos.
     
  6. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just the reply was encouraging, Dm. The confirmation on aiming it east was very helpful. Living where you do I know that you've dealt with the storms from the gulf on occasion and that means a good bit to me. I know well what you mean about 45 miles inland still being under threat of the storms. I had a friend who had a house on the river along the coast...probably 20 miles inland...storm surge got it with him and his daughter and a friend of her's in the attic...he was bright enough to carry a cordless skilsaw with him and cut him and the girls out through the roof! It's not just the wind and surge, but those spin-off tornadoes are a dime a dozen and very destructive!!!

    I like the openess of your coop but I hadn't realized it was dirt-floored until I looked at the other pictures. I had considered a dirt floor and using the deep layer method but decided to go on with a built-up floor and deep litter in it. Now you've got me thinking again. ;) I'm thinking of having a 20-25 foot wide run maybe 50 feet long. The (current) thought is to run a fence down the middle and alternate the chickens from side-to-side each year...garden on one side and chickens on the other side then reverse it the following year. I'm not much of a gardener, but if I'm gonna have chickens I'll need something to do with the manure! Around 600sqft of run each year would work out to about 20sqft per chicken as I'm only figuring to have a max of 24 (check with me in a couple of years on how my chicken math is going!<grin>) I may have to tone down my aspirations in regards to run size, though, as I'll need to build it strong....we have an abundance of coyotes. :(

    I just walked out back and looked at 'B' location again. I do think it will most likely be the spot.

    Ed
     
  7. Dmontgomery

    Dmontgomery Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    My reasons for dirt floor were 1) it's easier 2) it's cheaper 3) it's cooler. They can dust bathe in the cool dirt during the summer. I have a lot of it covered with hay but I move the hay around every couple days to rake up any poo and expose a new area for the dust bath. I'm going to convert to pine shavings when I run out of hay later this year. They are so much easier to work with.
    A solid floor would be much more secure from predators but I have lined around the perimeter with wire about 2-3' from the walls and fence. The plan is to build a raised planter around the entire area and have a layer of dirt over the wire about 6-8" deep. That will keep any diggers from getting in. Larger predators do not like our place very much. We have 5 dogs patrolling the grounds. 3 Bassett hounds, a lab, and a pit bull. The chicken yard is safe from anything except a snake. The Bassett are pretty good about alerting for them.
    Splitting the run into 2 sections is a great idea. Sort of like rotating crops. By the time it's all said and done you will be an expert on chickens and gardening. Or you could bag up the poop and put a sign on the highway, selling it. Your picture of the acreage looks like you probably have lots of farmers in the area.
     
  8. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    All good reasons for the dirt floor. I'd like to go with the DLM but between fire ants and predators I think I'll be more comfortable on a built-up floor.

    At location "B" there is a gentle slope. If I build close to the upper terrace peak then that side of the building would not be very high above the ground and would give places for rats and other critters to hide. Thus I'm thinking that I will move a bit further down the slope where it "kind of" levels out a bit. I'm shooting for around a 20-24" space beneath the house for a shady retreat and maybe dust baths for the chickens.

    Unfortunately we are down to one very old dog, a part white english bulldog....a super loving dog that is *GREAT* around kids and babies. Probably the best dog we've ever had, but I doubt he'll make it past the end of the year. The wife has already said she doesn't want another dog...lots of care and emotion involved and we're getting older, too. Living beside a main highway doesn't help, either. We've lost a few dogs to the highway, usually young ones. The jury's still out on getting another dog. So, for an alarm system and predator prevention we're limited except for building like Fort Knox.

    Splitting the run in half and alternating gardens has been on the burner for a long time. 200 feet of fencing will take in more area in a square configuration than in a rectangular one...the only problem there is covering the top. So, I may have to give up some area and go with long narrow runs and gardens just to keep covering the top of the run a viable project (for me).

    Yep, lots of farmers around...mostly poultry farmers these days. A few big row croppers and a few folks with cows. At one time this was a big cow and row crop farming area...lots of fields and pastures planted in pine trees now. :( Poultry houses have saved many a farmer around here. Chicken litter....pasture and hayfield fertilizer.
     
  9. Dmontgomery

    Dmontgomery Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    About the only place we don't have fire ants is I n the coop! I know the chickens don't eat them but I never have fire ants in there. Black ants love the meal worms so they are everywhere but just a nuisance, no stinging.
    Love English Bulldogs. Sorry he's in such bad shape. We had to put down our oldest Bassett over a year ago but I still miss her.
    The coop end of my setup is lower than the run. If/when I need to get in there with a hose or pressure washer all the water will run downhill out the back to the creek. I'm making a little trench or ditch for any big rain coming in from the run to be directed out the sides instead of down to the coop area.
    Not too many farmers of any type left around anymore. All the big corporations have taken over. We have mostly small to medium cattle production and timber land here. This has been a logging community back over 100 years.
     
  10. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I appreciate your help and feedback, DM. It's odd, but you are the only person to respond to this thread. I was hoping to get some folks' feedback on the structural aspects of my project but looks like I'll be winging it by myself. Ah well, it is what it is, eh? :)

    Yes, Buddy's in rough shape (the EB) but he keeps on plugging along. He might be old, but he's definitely spoiled!! The doctor gave him less than a year to live....that was like five years ago.<grin> If we could get another one with a similar personality I'd grab him/her up quick. He really is a good dog...one of those rare ones you stumble onto once or twice in life.

    Farming and logging over this way are struggling, too. The paper companies pretty well cut out all the old hardwood years ago...trashing it as they went. Hardwood was cheap then...now that it's in short supply the price has gone up...go figure. Somebody has gotten into a swamp or river bottom...I've been seeing some beautiful old cypress logs coming through town for the last couple of weeks. :(

    Ed
     

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