I've got some ideas but what do you think?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Fringe, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. Fringe

    Fringe Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 23, 2014
    Connecticut
    Hi,
    I've been reading on this website for a longtime (and dreaming) and now it's happened. Coop is in building mode right now and in a few weeks or so I plan on having 3-4 laying hens!

    Anyone have any suggestions/advice on the interior layout of a coop and what they would or wouldn't do. The footprint of my coop is 4x5 and about thirty inches off the ground (bad back, easier to clean - no stooping). On one end will be 3 nesting boxes with a flip down, latching side. In each one will be a plastic tub type tray with bedding for easy cleaning and access. On the other end is the pop door to an outside coop area that is completely enclosed. On the third wall will be a poop shelf under a roost, each removable for easier cleaning. Under the shelf will hang the feeder and possibly the waterer. This wall will have a big door that opens to the floor for easy access to coop/feeder/waterer and cleaning as I'm going to use the deep litter method.

    No real pictures to show yet but wondering if this sounds like a good setup? I've read of many people lining floor with linoleum? I've also read of some people using waterbased roof sealer? I live in cold and windy CT. Do I need to caulk and seal up every crevice? I have 3 windows and some vent holes that can all be opened safely.

    My last question - I'm planning on buying pullets. I have the name of a guy that seems to be a reputable breeder. Is there any way to tell a pullet from a hen that might be a bit past her prime? I could obviously be easily duped on this.

    So there is is! After 50 years I finally get my chickens! Never too late, right? It's just a number. At least that's what I tell myself some mornings. LOL!
     
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Your coop sounds nice - the layout sound very practical. I am curious though. I use dropping boards because I just can't handle thinking about poop building up inside my coop like with DLM. I scrape my dropping boards daily (well...95% of the time it's daily), into a bucket that once per week gets emptied into the compost area. I'm not familiar with using dropping boards AND using deep litter method. You bedding will stay mostly poop free due to the dropping boards...so are you talking about scraping the dropping boards down into the bedding???

    I used vinyl flooring in two of my coops and love it! I used those 12x12 vinyl floor tiles in another coop - never again with those, because they eventually begin peeling up.

    Well, if you're getting point of lay pullets, they will probably look a bit immature - and their combs won't be as large and red as older pullets or hens that are already laying. But if they're telling you a bird is one yr. old....there's not really a tried & true method for determining age on chickens. Buy from a reputable place, and you will most likely get young, healthy birds.

    Congratulations on finally getting chickens!
     
  3. dheltzel

    dheltzel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Young birds have good feathering and their legs will be normal looking. Old hens usually have missing/broken feathers and their legs get rougher as they age. Beware of bargains from people who don't have a need to keep a good repuation. Even better, take an experienced chicken keeper along when you go to buy your birds.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I agree with the sheet vinyl for flooring, I use kiln dried pine shavings about 2 inches deep over the vinyl, they dry up any poops not caught by the roost board..... but it can be slippery for scrambling chickens...and I do stir it up with a rake every few days when I sift the roost board that has sand and PDZ in it(see My Coop under my avatar).

    Your layout sounds pretty good, access for maintenance is key in a smaller coop but it sounds like you have that figured in.

    Roosts should be at least a foot above the nests, so they don't roost in the nests and poop them up.

    Ventilation should be generous and most of it should be as high above the roost as possible to avoid winter drafts on the roost area. This balance between adequate ventilation and drafts is tricky and depends on the location of the coop, vents and your prevailing winds. You don't need to seal every little crack and crevice....unless you find that it's causing a 'bad' draft come winter.
     
  5. Fringe

    Fringe Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 23, 2014
    Connecticut
    Thanks for all of the comments. Teach1rusl. I didn't really give much thought to the roost tray and not composting it in. I was just thinking about keeping things as clean as possible with chickens. I'm thinking I'll leave room to add the shelf in case I change my mind on the deep litter method. I'll have to rethink that as if there's no droppings in there it won't be composting as much as it should. I'm counting on a pretty deep layer and the composting action to help keep the coop warmer in the winter. Not that the shavings won't break down by themselves but some manure will hurry that along a bit.

    Thanks so much.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I wouldn't recommend DL in a small coop that doesn't touch the ground.....
    ........especially for a beginning chicken keeper in a cold climate, not sure if you have any experience with composting in general-it's a delicate balance that can generate noxious fumes.
    The amount of moisture needed to generate any significant heat from decomposition would only add humidity to the coop environment.
     
  7. Fringe

    Fringe Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 23, 2014
    Connecticut
    Thanks aart,
    I'm giving serious thought to changing to non-DL. I've been a serious composter for many, many years. Blame that on a father that was the county extension agent since before I was born. LOL! I also have worked at a recycling center for over 10 years where we take our leaf composting VERY seriously - checking temps regularly, turning windrows at least once a month etc... We're one of the only recycling centers in the state that can sell our compost. I guess that's partly what attracted me to the concept.

    I have been reading up on the other ways to keep the coop clean. I guess I was also thinking bad back and not having to clean so thoroughly on a daily/weekly basis. So if I have the poop shelf, and keep that clean each day and just make sure the litter is not too wet or soiled on the coop floor I should be alright? How much litter do I put down? I'm leaning towards the pine shavings. I'm going to have a hard time storing a lot of straw. That's another component to this that I'm working on as during the summer months I will not have enough room in the shed (getting lawn mower in and out for garden/yard work) to keep a bale in there. For winter months it won't be a problem.

    Thanks again. THIS is what makes this website GREAT! I love how everyone is so willing to help and offer how-to and advice!
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Well, if you're well versed in composting then you'd have a better chance of making it work than someone who wasn't...but then, you will also know about the moisture needed to make compost properly 'cook'....and what can happen to a compost pile if it isn't well balanced.

    I'm still a strong proponent of keeping the coop as dry as possible, because of respiratory concerns and frostbite in freezing temps(humidity is what causes frostbite, not just the cold), which includes sand/PDZ on roost board(the mineral zeolite to absorb ammonia) and sifting off poops every other day or so (then they can go into a compost). Here's how I do my roost board.

    I start with about an inch or two of kiln dried pine shavings on the floor, stir them up with a small rake when I sift the boards, and add some as needed. It keeps thing very dry and odor free, if I have a water spill I scoop up the wet shavings and get them out of there. I totally change out all the shavings and everything else that's on the floor after 6 months...and put that to compost with lots of water. I had 13 cu ft of litter and used 10 gallons of water sprinkled on as I built the pile in a 30" diameter wire fencing cylinder, core reached 160 deg F the next day.

    I think shavings work better than straw and probably cost about the same in the long run-here a bale of straw is the same as a compressed bag of shavings. Straw can bring in/harbor pests, isn't as absorptive and is susceptible to molding.
     

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