Is my coop/run/enclosure design plan good?

MaggieTheGenZChickGirl

In the Brooder
Oct 22, 2021
3
15
21
Eastern Massachusetts
Hello! I am new to the world of chickens, and im hoping to get some next spring. I am taking this winter to educate myself and get everything prepared for then, so I have created what i am thinking will be my plan for the setup, and I wanted to know if it would be suitable. I plan on getting between 3 and 5 hens, and this is just a rough plan of what im thinking.
The coop I am pretty sure im getting this one here: https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/producers-pride-mini-defender-coop-mdc001-1485300
In the area below I plan on making a dust bathing area. On the left side of the coop I plan on removing the left portion of run that the coop comes with and building an extension with hardware cloth and wood, it will have a hardware cloth "roof" and I will bury some at an angle to prevent predators from digging in. The large area, the enclosure, will have a border of the plastic chicken netting (cant remember the name of it) or more hardware cloth. There will be no "roof" on this area, and I probably wont bury the wire (ill explain why below)
How I will use each area;
I would keep them in the coop at night, no question about that. In the morning, I would open the coop and let go between the run/coop and that is where i would keep them when I am not home (3-6 hours a day max, but many days I'll be home all day). When I am home, and can check on them frequently, I will let them into the enclosure, but they would still have access to the run, coop, dust bath, etc.
Is my plan good? Am I missing something? Is it too small? Any ideas you'd add? Id love to hear from you :)
Thank you!!
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3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,573
27,031
1,066
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
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Welcome to BYC.

The idea of the big run and enclosure is wonderful! Chickens need elbow room and giving them plenty of space contributes to good health. It's great to see a new chicken person planning to give the birds the space that they need.

Unfortunately, that particular coop is one of the really BAD prefabs. It's undersized, entirely without ventilation, flimsy, and ill-designed with the roosts too low. It's also quite difficult to alter to make it more suitable. :(

Where, in general, are you located? Climate matters, particularly when deciding on housing.

Here is some helpful information for you:

The Usual Guidelines

For each adult, standard-sized hen you need:
  • 4 square feet in the coop (.37 square meters)
  • 10 square feet in the run (.93 square meters),
  • 1 linear foot of roost (.3 meters),
  • 1/4 of a nest box,
  • And 1 square foot (.09 square meters) of permanent, 24/7/365 ventilation, preferably located over the birds' heads when they're sitting on the roost.
For 4 hens:
  • 16 square feet in the coop. 4'x4' is the only really practical build for this given the common dimensions of lumber.
  • 4 feet of roost
  • 40 square feet in the run. 4'x10' or 5'x8'. 6'x6' is a bit too small, 6'x8' is more generous and easier to build than 5'x8'.
  • 4 square feet of ventilation. A 2'x2' window is theoretically enough, but in practice doesn't create any air FLOW so better to spread the venting around (and even better to exceed the minimums, especially in warm climates).
  • 2 nest boxes, to give the hens a choice
My Little Monitor Coop was specifically built on the advice of members here to meet all the minimums for 4 hens: https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/the-little-monitor-coop.76275/

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If you're not handy to do your own building a shed conversion or a hoop coop is almost always better than a prefab. :)
 

MaggieTheGenZChickGirl

In the Brooder
Oct 22, 2021
3
15
21
Eastern Massachusetts
I am from Massachusetts and the winters get really cold, but I plan on getting cold hardy breeds (from what i've read, im thinking RI reds and Plymouth Rocks) so if that makes a difference. I have almost zero building skills, the best I can do is nail a few things and drill holes, and the most i can do with those skills is build that run since its a very very easy build, and all the lumber can be measured and cut at home depot for me XD. I also don't have a bunch of money for a coop, and about the most I can spend is $500, but preferably it would be in the 3/400's. Do you know of any affordable prefabs that don't need many additional upgrades (except for maybe drilling holes for ventilation)? Or some kind of DIY plan that requires zero building knowledge? Thanks!
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
17,850
35,734
1,062
WA, Pac NW
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Your small run is too narrow, shoot for at least 6' wide, if not more. Lower ranked birds need to be able to safely get from one side of an enclosure to the other without getting too close to higher ranked birds, and that's usually a distance of 5' or so.

Almost any prefab you get will need alterations to provide needed ventilation, better security, more space. Most prefabs don't hold up well, so if budget is a concern, be aware you'll either have to spend the money now for something that'll last, or be ready to spend every couple of years to try and keep the thing going.

Converting a playhouse or a small shed may be a better option, if you keep your eye on local craigslist listings or something similar.

If you get this coop/run (or a very similar one) I would highly suggest you consider converting the entire unit to serving as a coop.

To turn it from 2 small "boxes" (tiny coop above tiny run) into 1 bigger "box" you'll want to remove as much of the inside coop wall as possible, plus the floor. Take out the old roosts too.

Nests might be able to stay as is, or may need to be relocated elsewhere or replaced - depends on the structure of the coop and how things inside stack up once done.

Run a new roost(s) lengthwise or widthwise across the newly open space, depending on how much roost is needed. Ideally you’d like 12” per bird but 10” can suffice in many cases.

Board up some of the external wire walls so that the roost area is protected from winds and rain. Do NOT fully cover up all the wire, you need ventilation and natural light, so at the very least a few inches under the roofline should remain open. If your climate allows for it, you can leave entire walls open with just the mesh, or make it convertible for the season by covering up open walls for winter, and then uncovering for summer.

Example of a modified prefab: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/my-renovated-prefab-coop.1440258/
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,573
27,031
1,066
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
I am from Massachusetts and the winters get really cold, but I plan on getting cold hardy breeds (from what i've read, im thinking RI reds and Plymouth Rocks) so if that makes a difference. I have almost zero building skills, the best I can do is nail a few things and drill holes, and the most i can do with those skills is build that run since its a very very easy build, and all the lumber can be measured and cut at home depot for me XD. I also don't have a bunch of money for a coop, and about the most I can spend is $500, but preferably it would be in the 3/400's. Do you know of any affordable prefabs that don't need many additional upgrades (except for maybe drilling holes for ventilation)? Or some kind of DIY plan that requires zero building knowledge? Thanks!

A hoop coop may be your best bet.

Here are some good examples:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/hoop-tractor.69336/
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/hoop-coop-brooder-with-roll-up-sides.75720/
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/the-biddie-bordello-a-hoop-coop-run-combo.72189/reviews
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/permanent-hoop-coop-guide.47818/reviews
 

Kyatesw

Spice Girls' Management
Premium Feather Member
Nov 6, 2020
42
70
64
Albany, NY
I second the hoop coop, I don't have the right set up from one or I would have one. I'm in upstate NY so same climate. Since you say you have no building skill, a hoop coop will be doable. Just make sure you grab some ratchet straps to hold the panels in the arch shape while you are setting them. Also cattle panels from tractor supply will fit in a 15' uhaul with one end up on the "attic"

I do want to say, if you have the time, you'd be surprised what you can do with little to no building skills. Can you follow a recipe? If so you can follow building plans. Save yourself the trouble and have your local lumber yard deliver and then rent/borrow a miter saw for you cut day. Don't underestimate yourself.

Also if you get chicks in mid June they can go outside sooner than in the spring.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
100,655
143,727
1,867
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
It's good you have the winter to think it over, there are lots of thing to consider.
I'd highly recommend a walk-in coop with plenty of space for those nasty winter storm days....and/or a spacious roofed run.

but I plan on getting cold hardy breeds (from what i've read, im thinking RI reds and Plymouth Rocks)
Would be good to think about breeds that have pea or cushion combs rather than single combed birds.

I am from Massachusetts
Here's how to add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, and then it's always there!
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