Looking for input on Coop for young chickens...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by AZHotChicks, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. AZHotChicks

    AZHotChicks Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 20, 2013
    I am going to be buying or building a coop for my 4 week to 10 week old chicks.

    Like something that will get them out of the house and garage, but still keep them warm enough (we live in AZ but it still gets cold at night) and give them room to run around.

    If you have built or purchased a coop that worked (or didn't work), Id like your input.

    Thanks! Lynn
  2. HS Pye

    HS Pye Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 13, 2013

    I tested a coop for Trixie Pet Supplies. Most all commercially made coops aren't quality that'd a buyer would prefer (even the expensive ones, mine was $800). Mine lasted for 2 years, now it's a junk heap [​IMG]. If I were you I'd either build it myself or have a local coop maker build a custom one for you.

    HS Pye
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I agree it is really hard to find a decent coop online or to just purchase. Most of them are a lot more about cute than functional. One we recently analyzed for someone had the roosts too low, really poor ventilation, way too many nests for that size (nests are expensive to build when they are that cute) and poor predator protection. It was obviously designed by someone that does not have chickens. It’s pretty typical too that they advertise them good for 2 to 3 times the number of chickens that would really fit in there. But it was cute.

    What you are talking about is a grow-out coop. Those really don’t need much and can be fairly simple. Obviously you don’t need nests. What you need is a place to feed and water them, predator protection, ventilation, and protection from the weather which basically means draft protection and you need to keep it dry. I’d add roosts too. On average my brooder raised chicks don’t start to roost overnight until 10 to 12 weeks, but I’ve had some start at 5 weeks. I’ve had broody raised chicks start as early as 2 weeks but Mama had something to say about that. They often play on those during the day at a younger age, even if they don’t spend the night on them. As long as the roosts are high enough they can’t be reached from the floor, they are a good place for some to go to avoid the bullies while sorting out the pecking order.

    You’ll find that many of us in climates colder than yours don’t keep them in the house or a heated garage at all. Mine go into my brooder right out of the incubator. It is permanently built into the main coop. If you can get dependable electricity to it, you can raise them from Day 1 in an outbuilding.

    I have no idea what size you are talking about, how many total chicks or whether they will be bantam or full size, meaties, a future laying flock or what. If you don’t feel comfortable building it yourself or just don’t have the time, you can probably find a local handyman to build one for you.

    Another option is to go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and get one of those prefab buildings, then either put it together yourself or for a price they’ll put it together for you. You’ll have to make certain modifications. You need ventilation up high in the winter months, up high and low down in the hotter months. You can use roof vents or gable vents. A popular way to get good up high ventilation is cut out under the overhang for maybe 6” to 8” and cover that with hardware cloth for predator protection. Or cut out and area, frame it like you would a window, and cover that with hardware cloth. You can add a shutter to that to help keep rain out. In winter you don’t need a lot of ventilation. Ammonia and warm air rises and warm air takes more moisture with it than cold air. Ammonia and moisture are what you are trying to get rid of. Ammonia comes from their poop and moisture comes from poop and their breathing. In the summer you need a lot more ventilation, especially in your climate. Heat is a real enemy. It’s really going to be hard for you to put in too much summertime ventilation.

    A roost is simply a tree limb or 2x4 across that building, up off the ground a couple of feet or so, but lower than any cross-draft from your ventilation in winter. In summer, a draft will probably feel good to them.

    I’m assuming you are going to give them access to the outside, probably a run. I certainly would. You probably need a pop door instead of using the human door for that. That’s to keep the rain and weather out. About a foot from the floor, cut out a hole about 12” square and frame that in like a window. Then just add a door of some type that is easy for you to lock open or closed. You want to lock it open during the day so the wind doesn’t shut it and lock them in or out. You want to be able to secure it at night to keep predators out. With it about a foot off the floor, the bedding won’t block it. You’d be surprised how easily they can hop up a foot, but you can make a stairway for them by putting down a paver of bricks, something like that.

    You want to keep it dry, so look at your drainage pattern. Don’t put it in a low spot where rainwater drains to or runs through. You might need to do some landscaping and put in a berm or swale to redirect rainwater runoff. Or build the area up with dirt before you build. I put in a swale and added a few inches of clay dirt to keep water out of mine.

    If you build this and size it right, all you have to do is add nests and you have a good coop for the adults. The nests are really the only difference. I have a separate grow-out coop so I understand how handy they are.

    If you set this up right, you never have to brood chicks in the house. Just provide heat in an area that is warm enough and they will do fine. You can let the rest cool off quite a bit. As long as they have a heat source, they will usually play all over the brooder and go back to the heat when they need to warm up. That way the feather out faster and acclimate to the cold weather better. I think it makes for healthier chicks.

    I raise mine this way. The brooder is in the coop right under the roosts. The top is my droppings board. I heat one end and let the rest cool off as it will, though in really cold weather the food and water needs to be in a somewhat warm place. They don’t need to be in a really hot place, just not really cold.

    I’ve raised mine like this so they are acclimated and moved them to my unheated grow-out coop at 5 weeks. The overnight lows were in the mid 40’s. A few days later, before they were 6 weeks old, the overnight low hit the mid 20’s Fahrenheit. They were fine. I would not suggest that for chicks that have not been acclimated or for a coop that does not have good draft protection, but those chicks can be a lot tougher than people give them credit for. Also mine are dual-purpose full sized chicks, not bantams and not those decorative chickens. I don’t have experience with those so I can’t say too much about them.

    Hopefully you get something useful out of all this that might fit in your situation. Good luck!
    1 person likes this.
  4. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

    May 6, 2010
    My Coop
    It might be worthwhile posting this question on our AZ thread. While you'll generally be happier with something you build, there was recent discussion about a local coop-builder that a number of folks really liked. He understood the unique issues of raising chickens in our climate and was very accommodating to customizing his basic coop designs to suit the buyer's needs. It also seemed like his prices were competitive to comparable coops you could find online.

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