Looking for a tried and true design for coop and run.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Gerbil, Mar 29, 2012.

  1. Gerbil

    Gerbil Oh, Crazy!

    Jun 24, 2010
    As the title says, I am looking for a new henhouse design.

    I have been through the coop forum and found some pretty cool ones, I have even built one from one of the designs on there.
    The problem I have run into is that there aren't any later reviews saying how easy or hard it is/they are to clean, how safe it/they turned out, and etc. Well, as pretty as mine was, it was nigh impossible to get clean and the hens decided to lay in the back where I couldn't get at.

    Safe is another concern here as we have a nightly raccoon patrol, every morning we can go out and see muddy footprints where they tried (And failed) to break in. Name them, opossums, feral cats, coyotes, wandering strays, snakes, hawks; we got 'em.
    We have ended up using hardware cloth for all the wire areas of our coops and some of our runs.

    Anyways, I am looking for something relatively nice looking, easy to clean, not a small fortune to build, good size for 6-8 birds, safe and hawk proof.

    I might be hoping for the impossible here. . :fl
    Even ideas or tips would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance!

  2. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Songster

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    Here's a vintage coop thats been around my farm for god knows how long!!! I had to move it & remodeled it & added a run to it. I have hot wire around it to keep predators from digging in.You could put an apron around it & not use hot wire. I've got 10 hens in it now & they have been in there for around 2 years with no problems.[​IMG]
  3. mikecnorthwest

    mikecnorthwest Songster

    Mar 27, 2009
    Vancouver, WA
    My Coop
    By now I think the Garden Coop is a tried and true plan that you can download cheaply from their website. There's a new book called Backyard Chickens Guide to Coops and Tractors which features 16 coops from this website. It has pictures, diagrams, and narratives about building each coop. In general I think any walk in style coop with a large access door to the house would work for you. If you look at my BYC page you'll see how I did a large access door on my coop. It only takes me 10 minutes to clean my coop. I open the door and use a shovel to remove the soiled bedding. No stooping, no crawling, no mess.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I don’t have any good designs for you. We are all in such different circumstances and we use such different management techniques, it’s sometimes hard to match a coop to someone.

    As far as nice looking, that is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t worry enormously how the coop and run look since I’m out where I’m about the only one to see it. People living in more crowded circumstances do need a better looking coop and run. I have no comments on what you consider attractive.

    Easy to clean depends a lot on management techniques. I made my coop really large for the number of chickens I have (which can vary a lot through the season) and mine spend a whole lot of time easting green stuff, scratching for creepy crawlies, or just laying in the shade somewhere that is not the coop. I did occasionally clean up concentrations of manure to put on my compost pile, but I haven’t cleaned it in three years. It doesn’t get much easier than that. I did fairly recently build in a permanent brooder under the roosts, partly so I can use the top as a droppings board to get that manure for the compost heap. And I would occasionally rake it, but not all that often. I plan to clean it out this fall, not because I have to but so I can get that stuff on my garden. What you use for bedding and things like that makes a difference too. I use wood shavings. Mine is a walk-in coop so I have pretty good access to everywhere.

    For a small easy to clean coop, I’d suggest something raised so you can put a wheelbarrow under it and rake it out. Maybe some type of removable barrier across the bottom to hold the bedding in when you open it, but so you can get it out of the way when you want to rake it. Hinge one entire side so you can get to everything inside. I reused something for a grow-out coop instead of building from scratch and don’t have good access to everything inside. That is definitely a problem.

    Not a small fortune to build. Good luck!!! You might try Craigslist, go dumpster diving, maybe check out those recycle places that are around a lot of places, usually with “green” or “habitat” in their name. Look for material or even whole buildings you can get. Sort of in conjunction with that, a lot of building material comes in 4’ and 8’ dimensions. If you take that into account when designing, you can cut less and have less waste. It usually makes for a more efficient design.

    As far as size, that really depends on how you manage them. If you leave them locked in there a lot, such as you like to sleep in on a weekend, it needs to be bigger. If you have a set-up and climate where they have good access to the outside practically all time, the coop can be a lot smaller. There is a rule of thumb on this forum that calls for 4 square feet per bird in the coop and 10 square feet per bird in the run. This will keep most of us out of trouble most of the time with a lot of different management techniques. For a lot of people, that is over-the-top as far as the minimum space they might be able to get away with but it is fairly forgiving criteria. One thing I will mention. The more space I give mine, the less hard I have to work, such as cleaning, and the more flexibility I have in managing problems.

    Safe and hawk-proof. Safe depends on how you build it (materials and techniques), how you manage them (like locking them in the coop at night or not), and what you are protecting them against. I went with a philosophy of making the coop really safe and locking them up at night and building a run that is predator resistant, not predator proof. My run is partially covered with used metal from a salvaged shed but part is open. The sides are 2” x 4” welded wire, but I put chicken wire along the bottom 18” to keep the chickens from sticking their heads out pecking at grass but mainly to keep baby chicks from leaving the run and Mama’s protection. Mine is real safe against dogs and coyotes, things like that, but climbing animals like raccoons and foxes could get in if they tried. Snakes and some members of the weasel family can get in if they wish. Like I say, my run is not predator proof, but it does slow most things down and flat out stops some.

    If you want your run truly hawk-proof, I’d suggest a minimum of covering it with that 2” x 4” welded wire, but a solid roof works really well too.

    Hopefully you can get something out of all this rambling. You can easily see we do a lot of different things with coops. You are pretty much limited by your pocketbook and imagination. Good Luck!!!
  5. Gerbil

    Gerbil Oh, Crazy!

    Jun 24, 2010
    Thank you all for the great replies!
    I like the idea of an open coop, I also like the size of 7L's. And the idea of hotwire... That might deter a few of our hungry guests.

    Garden coop has some excellent designs, can't believe I haven't heard of them before. And that sounds right, about the walk in coops, so far it looks like a breeze to clean and care for compared to ours.

    Ridgerunner: You have lots of useful information, thank you for taking the time to post it all. :bow

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