Looking for your "eggs-pertise" on coop design!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by CountryMom5, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. CountryMom5

    CountryMom5 Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 12, 2013
    My husband and I are at odds on what type of coop to build for our new adventure with chickens.
    We have 10 acres, so land isn't an issue.
    I want something that looks like a building/shed, he wants something that looks like a condo in the sky.
    Please tell me what design you have and the pros and cons to it.
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    There are a lot of folks on this forum that can help you with what chickens need in a coop. We would need to know about your climate, things like how cold it can get in the winter and how hot it can get in the summer. Heat is more dangerous than cold. How many chickens do you plan on, your flock make-up (any roosters?), and what are your goals with those chickens. Will you be hatching and raising chickens? If so, by incubator/brooder or broody hen? How do you plan on managing them, free range or in a run? Things like that. There are a whole lot of different factors that go into deciding what needs to be in a coop and a lot of things you might want in there that is not a “need” but more of a “convenience”.

    But chickens don’t care how pretty it is. Humans do. Chickens’ needs are pretty simple.

    Depending on where you live, there may be reasons to make it pretty, like keeping your neighbors happy if you are in suburbia. But if it is just a difference of opinion between you and your husband, that is between you and your husband. I’m old enough to know not to get in the middle of a domestic dispute.
  3. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2010
    Westfield, Indiana
    I like your shed idea better. [​IMG] You don't need to be a master carpenter and you would be amazed with what you can do with a few basic tools and wood. Way cheaper than buying a kit coop. Get yourself some 4x4s, 2x4s, sheets of plywood (I prefer beadboad that is prepainted), fencing, some screws and metal angles, drill and a circular saw. I never even used a measuring tape except to size the wall boards. I would be sure to place windows on the south side and make your pop door and entry door downwind from your main weather directions. You can start small and add structures as you add chickens or need more room. Hope this helps.



    Last edited: Feb 19, 2013
  4. travl4me1

    travl4me1 Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 26, 2012
    I'm the wrong person to ask, but let me give you 4 simple suggestions to ponder.

    1. If your overall height allows it, make a human size door to enter and exit as required. Regardless of small nest box doors or small roost doors, you will at some point have to take your body in and out of your coop/run. I like walking in, rather than crawling. My roosts and nest boxes are elevated to chest height so I don't have to bend over to look at birds, or to get eggs, or clean.

    2. Determine if you need to insulate it or not, before you build. It's a pain, after the fact. Same with electricity. (I dont have electricity.)

    3. Wind resistant- Basically anchored and built well. We got 90-100 mph winds a few weeks ago in TN, and I was grateful my coop was still upright. My patio table, kids playground, heavy chiminea, and trees didn't end up so well, but my birds were dry and unharmed. I hadn't thought of that until I heard tornado warnings at 3 a.m.

    4. try to outthink a fox, coyote, cat, dog or coon when you are building this. This is probably most important and often makes designs less pretty.

    Aesthetics were secondary to me. Function was more important to me. I wanted it to work for the birds, but I needed it to work for me. I bought a very large tractor coop that met my needs, and let the wife/kids make it prettier. Best of luck .....and most of the fun is in learning something new, and spending time together as a family.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2013
  5. Kilsharion

    Kilsharion Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 21, 2013
    My Coop
    For us, temperature is a real issue to consider. We get into the triple digits for roughly a third of the year. This means we have to plan to maintain a cooler environment. As others have mentioned, keeping them from freezing or par boiling is pretty important.

    Depending on how handy you or your husband is with tools, you can build just about anything. If you're not that handy, you can get used sheds fairly cheap that can be cleaned up and converted to look relatively nice. Thus you have your 'nice' factor and your 'ease' factor combined. There are a few coops in the coops section here that show repurposed buildings that have been made into quite attractive coops.

    Me, I have a manufacturer for a husband and I'm an engineer - so our coop designs for stationary coops tend to be a bit over the top. We have cooler units and such because of our insane temps. Most people don't bother with that and their birds do just fine.

    A biggie, so far as I'm concerned, is keeping the rain and wind off the birds and their litter. We make our coops so they are tight as a ship's hull (husband has built many a boat) but have great ventilation. We protect the ventilation from rain coming in with eaves and positional barriers. It provides a dry environment for the birds. We also tend to leave their food and water out in the run; however, there is an eave (ok, fine, a porch) in front of the coop that provides protection from the elements while they pop out [[edited to correct spelling]] for a snack or drink on inclement or scorching days.

    A key element was mentioned by the first responder - how many chickens do you intend to have? A coop design that might work for a smaller flock (like the one in my sig file) will not work adequately on a larger scale. It just gets out of hand. A coop design that would work great for a larger flock might not scale down for a smaller flock.

    Give thought to "must haves" in your coop (regardless of design). Things like ventilation, roosting space, ease of access (important for cleaning, repairs, etc), weather protection appropriate for your area, protection from predators (for me coyotes and hawks are my biggest issues...others have opossums and snakes as their biggest concern, etc), how do you plan to set up their feed and water, do you plan to have electricity at the site (solar works for some not for others - again, depends on climate and needs), how do you plan to get water out there and where will you store it when it's there (hauling a ton of water gets old fast), will you be responsible for opening and closing the pop door or will it be automated (if you do it manually, it makes it even more imperative that you have a secure run to ensure the security of your flock), the list goes on.

    After all your "must haves", then you can sit down and figure out how you can get it all into a design that is appealing to either of you. The aesthetics are the least of the birds' concerns.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2013
  6. suzeqf

    suzeqf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2011
    I have the shed type it's 8x20 and i wish it was bigger it has a small loft that i was going to use as storage but the peeps decided they like to roost on the rafters i can walk into it and clean it easily and i store all my chicken "stuff" and feed in the coop i also small section that i petitioned off i orginally used it as a place to brood and raise chicks but my chicks grew up and needed a place to nest so it's now the nest room, i'm planning another coop for babies and broody moma and banty's
  7. CountryMom5

    CountryMom5 Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 12, 2013
    We are in Northern VA so we get the cold winters and hot summers. Our property is quite windy so one concern, for me, with the "condo in the sky coop" is wind whipping around every side and the bottom; making the birds fairly nervous. I hope to have about 8 hens...no roosters. I want eggs for eating :) We know we have: racoons, coyote, red foxes and snakes. We do have neighbors on one side but I've already spoken to them about chickens and they don't care. No electricity needed.
    This won't end the marriage, but I sure wish we could agree :) Thanks for reminding me that chickens don't care how it looks :)
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I have a manufacturer for a husband and I'm an engineer

    That is a dangerous combination. I’m an engineer also and tend to over-design things. But I’m a rough carpenter. I can build a shed but don’t ask me to build furniture or cabinets. You won’t like the result.

    CountryMom5, A few things that can be helpful when planning your coop, whichever type you decide on. First, I think these articles should be required reading for anyone designing a coop.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):

    In Northern Virginia cold is not really that much of an issue for you. They wear a down coat all year round. Heat is going to be much more dangerous for you. I suggest you look at a design that blocks the direct wind from hitting them when they are roosting during the winter but has a lot of permanent ventilation open over their heads. Open up the areas under the roof overhang and cover that with hardware cloth to keep raccoons from climbing in. Roof vents and gable vents help a lot. You get some snow so be careful with ridge vents that can get blocked, but they can help in summer.

    During summer, have windows or other vents at roosting level or below that can be opened to get even more ventilation. If your husband wins he can put some real pretty gingerbread shutters on them to keep the rain out. If you win, put them on the side rain normally does not come from. If you have real good ventilation it won’t hurt for it to get a little damp inside, but you do want to keep as much moisture out as you reasonably can. A wet coop is unhealthy and will probably stink.

    During the winter they do not want a cold wind hitting them. Mine will go out and forage in zero degree Fahrenheit weather as long as the wind is not blowing. But if a cold wind is blowing they find shelter.

    If you are buying the material, a lot of building material comes in 4’ and 8’ dimensions. If you plan your coop around these dimensions you can usually reduce cutting and waste and not spend any more money For example a 8’ x12’ versus a 7’ x 11’. If the material is free and an odd size, don’t worry about this.

    I’m a huge proponent of providing more space than you think you need, whether that is in the coop, the run, the roosts, or about anywhere. I find there are less behavioral problems, I have to work less hard, and I have more flexibility to deal with problems if I have extra room as opposed to shoehorning them into a tight space.

    Look at your drainage when you decide where to put it. You want where rainwater runoff will not run into it and you want it to drain if it gets wet. This goes for a coop and especially if you build a run. Slope your roof so water goes away somewhere safe, not where it will be a problem.

    Good luck with it and welcome to the adventure.
  9. jrudolph305

    jrudolph305 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 1, 2009
    Meadows of Dan, Va
    Ditto to all the other posts. You say no electric needed. Will you need or want to have a heated water dish in the winter or a light to extend hours of light in the winter? Longer light in winter will help egg production. Our first coop I ended up with a 50 ft extension cord from the house to coop.
  10. furbabymum

    furbabymum Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2012
    Burns, Wyoming
    I have a horse barn. Pro's are that I have pretty limitless space. Cons are it's so large the poultry aren't able to keep the temp up with body heat.

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