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Maybe getting ahead of ourselves, but... coop questions (Maine)!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by SeaChick, Apr 30, 2007.

  1. SeaChick

    SeaChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Hello all,

    If you read our post in the general category you'll know that my daughter is attempting to get our city's "No Chickens" ordinance changed. I don't know how well she will do, but she has the support of all of our neighbors in any case, so we're thinking about going ahead anyway if the city-council appeal ends up dragging on for months. Sooooooo..... thinking about where her hens will live.

    We've scoured the web and this site and there are so many different designs for coops/runs that we're getting confused. Hoping that we can get some advice here.

    1) We live in southern Maine (garden zone 5+) so winters are snowy and occasionally below zero F.
    2) Our lot is only 50' x 100' so we won't be letting them roam free. We originally considered doing a tractor-type coop but it seems like a permanent one makes more sense especially given the winter-protection considerations.
    3) We may only be in this house for about 2 years, and then renting it out, so I want to keep the yard looking good. i.e. no big bare patch on the existing lawn and a coop that is either unobtrusive, easy to dismantle or convert to garden shed etc.

    Here is a plan and some photos of our backyard. Based on the information I've read here and elsewhere I am thinking about a couple of options:

    A- Having the "indoor" part of the coop be INSIDE the garage, with access to an outdoor run through the existing window at the back of the garage. Presumably being inside the garage (although it is uninsulated) will provide a bit of extra winter protection, although we plan to have a heat lamp and/or insulation in the coop. The runu would be behind the garage, which has a dirt/leaf litter ground, not lawn. However, it is very shade there. Is that OK? Also, what are other drawbacks to having part of it inside the garage? Harder to keep clean since it's an actual wooden-floored building? Remember we'll need to have it clean and presentable for renters in a couple of years...

    B- Is to have a small coop with a run outside the garage, behind it. Again, very shady there. Would it be much better to have the coop building part in sun as much as possible? Perhaps the run could be behind the garage, shady in summer (and I assume they wouldn't use it much in winter anyway???) and the coop could extend off that back corner of the garage into the yard a little, to try to catch sun. Or, the other way around, with the coop in the shade and the run extending out into the sunny part of the lawn?

    Either way, we could just dismantle the run part when we leave and leave the coop intact (and well-scoured out) if it looks nice enough.

    So, that's the first question: coop and run location in our shady backyard and Maine climate.

    Second is the protected coop part design. I see that many people have smallish coops, not standing height, but about 3' high, while others have full standing height coops with the same floor space. What are the pros and cons? We'll only have 3-4 hens max. Ease of cleaning is important, as is winter protection. Will a smaller structure be better in winter with less air to keep warm?

    Third, is the cold-weather issue. Olivia has been researching breeds and likes the following which are said to be cold-hardy: Australorps, Rhode Island Red, Star, Wynadotte, Ameraucana. Would a couple of inches of insulation (fiberglass matt or rigid foam?) be enough to keep tham happy if they had a 100 watt light on in the morning and evening (for daylight egg-laying) or is there some other way to add heat all the time? Heat lamp 24 hours?

    We're thinking that the indoor coop will be about 3' x 4' (but how tall?) and the outdoor run about 3' x 8'. I'd also like to build a little portable fenced pen that we can bring them out into the yard in, under our supervision.

    Here is a rough plan of the yard. Note the shade from the buildings orientation and overhanging trees! It's not a very sunny backyard!

    [​IMG]

    Here's a view from the back door:
    [​IMG]

    And more of that area behind the garage which seems a good spot (aside from the shade issue):

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    And looking back at the house from that back corner. There just doesn't seem to be another good, unobtrusive place for it! Does there?

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for all your experienced input!!!
    Stacey & Olivia
     
  2. eggchel

    eggchel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Dec 26, 2006
    Both Coasts
    There is a good chance that if the city does approve the keeping of chickens within a residential area, they may put restrictions on where the coop can be located on the property. i.e. "coops must be located not less than 50 ft from any neighboring residence", etc. Sometimes the cities will make the restrictions so outrageous that it will be impossible to manage on a small lot. Good luck with the battle. One of our members (Maureen in Oakland CA) was successful in getting her city ordinance changed to allow hens.

    I think that putting a pet door in the side of the garage and providing a coop inside would be excellent considering your weather. With a small run outside for scratching around, they would have all they need. If you can, make the run extend just a little into the sun because they love to sunbathe. You could use a prebuilt dog or rabbit house for inside the garage or build your own. If you build you own, just put plywood or even sheet vinyl flooring down to protect your garage's wood floor.

    You could purchase or build a small coop and run similar to the rabbit hutch shown here and put it anywhere in your yard during the summer.

    http://www.petsmart.com/global/prod...T<>prd_id=845524441814697&bmUID=1177962907073
     
  3. SeaChick

    SeaChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Hi eggchel-

    Thanks for the advice. That little portable run is just what I was thinking of.

    The window into the back of the garage is about 4' off the ground. Do you think that if we put a ramp the chickens could use that to get inside? (Rather than cutting a new pet door?)

    Thanks!
    Stacey
     
  4. eggchel

    eggchel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    yes, they could use a ramp or a ladder to go in thru the window. Good idea.

    chel
     
  5. SkeeredChicken

    SkeeredChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 27, 2007
    Orlando, Florida
    This may be an off the wall idea (of course it is...), but how about building a treehouse coop, lol. Build it 25-50 feet up. That way if you have a small lot and have to have it 50 feet minimum away, there ya go [​IMG] But in all seriousness, there's always a creative way around everything....
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2007

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