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Is there a desired/recommended height for inside of a coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by culturalinfidel, Jan 12, 2017.

  1. culturalinfidel

    culturalinfidel Out Of The Brooder

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    I am working on plans to build a bigger coop to add more chickens to the flock, that and the coop that I was given is much too small for the 4 older girls that it came with (2' x 3' x 3' tall). Looking to add 4-6 more chickens.

    Currently planning on an 6-8' long x 3' wide coop with a 3' back wall and 4' front wall. The nesting boxes will be built on an exterior wall so as not to take away from internal space. It will be on risers with a 2'-3' tall run underneath and attached to a 16'long x 4'wide x 6' tall run with access to a 28'x28' garden to free range in occasionally. They will have permanent access to the attached run from 5am-9pm. The gravity feeder and waterer are located in the run.

    Will the 3'-4' tall inside height be sufficient for roosting?

    Eventually they will have full access to the 28' x 28' garden area once netted and fenced off.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
  2. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Both your projected coop and run would hold approximately 6 chickens. You said you have 4 now and want 4-6 more, so you'll need to scale up on both. Aim for a minimum 40 sq ft in the coop and 100 for the run. You might be able to get away with a little less on the run with free range time.

    The height is fine. It's mostly making sure there's enough headroom and room on the sides for the chickens to be able to get on the roost.
     
  3. culturalinfidel

    culturalinfidel Out Of The Brooder

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    From my research the 4 square feet recommendation assumes they will spend extended time in the coop and not be able to get in the run. They will have access to the run for 16-18 hours per day. I have read that anywhere from 2-4sq ft is acceptable. The run per current plans is ~85sq ft with occasional access to an additional 700sq ft once the area is finished. I can upscale the permanent run if needed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Like about everything else with chickens, coop height depends on the conditions. What kind of weather will they see? Are you located where they need lots of wind protection in winter? Do you have brutal heat in the summer?

    In warm weather breeze protection is not important. Chickens can handle cold better than heat. A nice breeze hitting them can feel good. I pretty cold temperatures a breeze hitting them on the roost can be a bad thing. In any temperature they need decent ventilation. In colder climates the easiest way to get decent ventilation but keep breezes off of them is to have the ventilation higher than the roosts so any breezes pass over their heads.

    Is yours going to be a walk-in coop or not? If it is a walk-in the coop needs to be tall enough so you can stand up.

    Chickens normally like to sleep on the highest point available. Like everything else chickens there can be exceptions but it is a real good idea to make sure your coop roosts are higher than your nests.

    The way I determine coop height is to determine the coop floor height considering any bedding, then place the nests. Some people put the nests really low. Some like them high enough that they can gather eggs without bending over, especially people with bad backs. Next put the roosts noticeably higher than the nests so they don’t sleep in the nests. Then put your ventilation above the roosts.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    [​IMG]
    This is 4x7 with a three section external access nest box. Not full 8 ft as I needed the few pieces of grooved plywood (shiplap look) for nesting box. Works well and I keep fifteen full grown large fowl chickens in it. On skids to move about in summer with 164' electric netting. In winter It's parked in the old dog run 60x80ft, or more, in front of a lean to I erected for enclosed area for harsh winter days. I use tarps or plastic to encircle bottom of coop three sides and from coop full side of the lean to as wind break. The rest is snow shoveled paths to favorite under shrub spots in run.

    [​IMG]

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    Hay is under that shrub but the sun hadn't melted the snow there yet.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    There are a lot of variables in how much room you need per chicken. If you follow the link in my signature you can see some of the things I think are important. It’s not coop in isolation and run in isolation, but how much total room is available when they need it. Some variables are flock make-up (sexes and age differences), climate (how long they may be stuck in the coop only), management techniques, individual chicken temperament and personality, flock dynamics, but there are several other things to consider.

    In general the tighter I pack them the more behavioral problems I have to deal with, the harder I have to work, and the less flexibility I have to deal with issues. The behavioral issues most people think about range from feather picking to outright cannibalism, but it includes other day to day activities. If you don’t have adequate roost space for your flock (this does not mean a certain inches per bird but considers your unique flock’s needs) this can lead to chickens sleeping and pooping in the nests. If you are trying to integrate, especially younger chickens, this can lead to bullying or even death.

    An example of working harder. Chickens poop a lot. The more chickens you have crammed into a smaller space the more the poop builds up. The tighter the chicken density, the harder you have to work to manage that poop.

    Some examples of flexibility. If you discover that your chickens are getting picked off by a predator in your run, is your coop big enough to hold them while you solve the predator problem? Don’t just think of days you can take off from work and perfect weather, but maybe you need to take a kid to the doctor or you need to catch a plane to go to a family funeral. These things don’t always happen at your convenience. If a hen goes broody and you don’t want her to hatch chicks, do you have enough room to use a broody buster?

    You may notice that a lot of these things have little to do with the chickens but a lot more to do with your comfort and convenience. I consider my time and stress level important.

    You will see a lot of numbers bandied about on this forum. People starting out need guidelines, I understand that. A lot of the guidelines are intended to keep people out of trouble even if their management or conditions are less than ideal. One problem with guidelines is that I’ve seen people on here say anything from 1 to 15 square feet per chicken in the coop will work, often with no mention of a run or management practices. Which guideline do you go by? In certain circumstances you can get 1 square feet to work, in others most of that 15 may be necessary.

    I think you are right, that 4 square feet assumes they will spend extended periods in the coop. But there are conditions that go with that. It’s generally talking about a flock that are all the same sex (hens) and the same level of maturity. You have to have enough room to feed and water inside without them pooping in that from the roosts. They are already integrated. The size of the flock has an impact, I go through that in my article, the more chickens you have the less space per chicken you need from a behavioral aspect. You still have to manage the poop.


    One concern I have with yours is that you say you will be adding chickens. I don’t know what ages or sexes you are considering adding, those and your techniques for integrating can make a difference, but you generally need a lot more room when you are integrating than after they are all mature and have worked out the pecking order.

    Will what you are talking about work for 10 chickens? Maybe, depending on your management techniques, climate, and all the other variables. Management will be very important. Personally I’d never build something that small because you have no flexibility in how you have to manage them and no ability to adjust to issues. I often go to visit my grandkids and have to get someone to take care of my chickens. I want to make that as easy as I can on them because I want to see my grandkids, not stay home to take care of my chickens because I can’t find someone to take care of them.

    But it is your choice. If you want to lock yourself into management that rigid you certainly can. With the right management techniques you can probably make it work. Good luck!
     
  7. culturalinfidel

    culturalinfidel Out Of The Brooder

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    I live in the PNW so compared to some, I have a fairly mild climate. My winter lows may dip into the 20's during a cold spell but they are usually in the high 30's-40's. The coop and run will be built into an existing privacy fence that blocks a lot of the wind that would potentially hit the birds. Our heat may reach the 90's in the summer for a few days but not very often, usually in the high 70's to low 80's.

    As for coop ventilation, there will be vents integrated just below the roofline as well as window vents for hotter days. The area where the coop will be will keep any strong winds from hitting the roofline vents. I figured on putting the perch/roosts at the 30-36" level. This will be well above the nesting box. The coop will not be a walk in style. The front will be hinged with two large doors for cleaning and access when needed. There will be plenty of high roosts in the 6' tall run as well.

    I am planning to put the nesting box 10" from the floor with a 2" lip on it. With a 2' run underneath, the box would be about 3' off the ground. Not super high or low. Just right for my kids to check for eggs and a decent height for me to reach in.

    For yard/run access, the door will get put on a timer for morning and evening closing time. Currently that is a job that I take care of when before I leave for work at 6am and go to bed late in the evening.

    The coop size may get adjusted slightly to being longer (ie 7-8' to 10-12'), but I am still working on the planning phase of that. The entire fenced run will have cover on it as well, not just open air.

    My current flock: Buff Orpington, Barred Rock, and 2 Black Australorps. These hens are anywhere from 3-5 years old. The previous owner wasnt sure as she got them from someone else and says she had them for the past 2 years. She thought these were 1-2 years old when she received them. There is no way to tell actual age for certain though.

    I am looking at getting Easter Eggers, Rhode Island Reds, and Baxter Barns Leghorns.
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    My two coops have about 4 feet of head room, which is fine for the chickens. They also stay warmer in winter than larger coops.

    But if I could tear them out and rebuild, I would make my coops with enough room where I could stand up comfortably in them. Interacting and handling your chickens is so much more enjoyable in coops where you fit.

    My original run was fashioned out of four foot tall hog panels. It became painfully inconvenient as time passed. My back would kill me after cleaning the run. I decided, enough. I enlisted a friend and we built a gorgeous new run around the old run, then I tore out the entire old run and built nifty partitions in the new run. The chickens and I are all so much happier.

    Those smaller coops look quaint and cute, but I wonder how many folks curse them and wish they had gone larger to begin with.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Azygous, you’ve been on this forum a while. Can you remember ever seeing a post where someone said “I wish I’d made my coop smaller”? My memory is not as good as I wish it were, but I sure can’t think of any.

    For someone keeping a small flock of all hens in a suburban backyard those little elevated coops with external nests can work really well. But I don’t have that kind of flock so I really prefer a walk-in coop, not to handle chickens but so I can see what is going on inside. By walking in to collect eggs I’ve seen a lot of things that I’d have missed if I were collecting eggs from outside the coop. But many people with small backyard flocks are very happy with the small elevated coops and the external nests are pretty much required for those coops.

    I totally agree with you on the run. You need to be able to get in there and stand up. Not for the chickens’ sakes but for yours. People tend to think about what their chickens need and forget about what they themselves need. I think that is a mistake.
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    What does this mean?
    Roof is 4' over the heads of the chickens standing on the ground.... or 4 feet from the ground?

    To the OP:
    I like walk in coops and runs...not good at bending over for long and forget about 'squatting' at all.
    Taller the coop, the better the ventilation IMO.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2017

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