Modifying the "Minimalist" coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by b0bb0, Aug 12, 2010.

  1. b0bb0

    b0bb0 New Egg

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    Hi Everyone! First time poster here, we'll see how it goes! I live in West Michigan (an hour north of Grand Rapids). We've decided to get chickens as both a fun learning experience for our three kids, and a source of healthy, natural eggs. We plan to get 4 hens- one silkie spicifically for the girls, and then 3 layers. Not sure which exact breed, but one that is good in the colder climate. The first thing we need is a coop, and I'm not the handiest of men [​IMG] We got the "Building Chicken Coops for Dummies" book, and it was exactly what I need - a complete, specific list of materials needed, and easy to follow cut list and assembly instructions. I'm planning to make the "Minimalist" coop, as seen here:

    [​IMG]

    Living in Michigan, I thought that the open mesh at the top of both sides would be too cold, so I plan to cut the side panels to cover the entire opening, with a small window on each side. Then I'll put a metal vent up at the top of the tallest side. I was also thinking an actual roof with shingles would be warmer than the corrugated roof over the frame. Do you guys think this would be warm enough? Would I need to wire it up with a light to give some extra warmth? That's something I could probably have someone do, but do you think it would be necessary? If anyone has some advice, I'd really appreciate it! I just want to make sure this is going to be warm enough for the little girls!
     
  2. tasymo

    tasymo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As long as your hens are full grown, they should do fine through the Winter in the coop you have planned. My six Girl's weren't fazed by our Michigan Winter, in their wooden playhouse coop, with no insulation. I don't know how a silkie will handle cold though. I've got one RIR, 3 barred rocks and two Isa Browns.
     
  3. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I would go with a plywood/shingled roof for your area. I'd also consider putting some of that foam insulation in the ceiling. I'm not sure how cold tolerant silkies are??? I love having access to electricity in my coop, so if you don't feel comfortable with running an outdoor rated extension cord, I would see if you could get someone to wire it. It comes in handy for SO many reasons...heated waterer (so you're not changing out ice/water 3x a day in winter time), heat lamp if needed, fan, light, etc. I have nNEVER read of someone complaining "I wish I had not insulated this coop!" I waited till fall before getting my girls, so they were still young last winter (@4 months) and they did NOT like the cold. I was super glad I had insulated (and I STILL used a heat lamp on really cold nights). This winter I expect them to do handle the cold a bit better... [​IMG] (but I will still offer a heat lamp on super cold nights...lol).
     
  4. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

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    Welcome to BYC! Make sure you stop in to the Michigan thread and say hi. [​IMG]

    You're going to get a wide variety of answers on this particular question as BYC is frequented by a wide variety of people, from those that keep their chickens as pampered pets to those that keep them as livestock, well taken care of, but no frills.

    I personally would not worry about any modifications to the design. As long as there is food and water available and the coop blocks most of the wind they'll be fine. Most of the common egg laying breeds are rather cold hardy and we've never had a problem with silkies in the cold either. That said, if it makes you feel better to insulate and add frills and finishing touches, go for it.
     
  5. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would definitely insulate the roof. That's where you'll lose most of your heat at night.

    I would think carefully about reducing the ventilation, though. You might be able to rig up some panels to partly close off those vent areas on the coldest nights. Inadequate ventilation can actually lead to frostbite when moist air builds up inside the coop, moisture precipitates on combs, then the moisture freezes and voila! frostbite. Try to make sure you have at least one square foot of vent for every chicken.

    If you haven't seen this excellent page yet, this is a great reference (along with her ventilation page):

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-winter-coop-temperatures

    One other thought. When I was getting ready to get our first chickens, a very experienced poultry keeping friend suggested I avoid singletons (getting one individual of a particular breed with no others like it). He said the singletons he had over the years always seemed lonely with no one else of their kind to flock with. So if I were you, I'd get two silkies, rather than just one.
     
  6. b0bb0

    b0bb0 New Egg

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    Wow, thanks everybody for the advice. That link about temperature vs. ventilation was really good. I think I've seen something about that somewhere, but there's so much information to remember that I'd forgotten about it. I think I'll keep with the original design, but use a shingled roof.
    I hadn't thought about one silkie getting lonely - I'll probably end up getting two now. I know the girls will be excited for that.
     
  7. Luke13:34

    Luke13:34 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Be sure to share pics when you finish it!
     
  8. dsqard

    dsqard Crazy "L" Farms

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    As far as what kind of layers to get, I would suggest something with a rose or pea comb. They are less likely to get frostbitten. Good luck [​IMG]

    ETA - [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010
  9. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Well, if you're going to get two, might as well get three just in case something happens to one of them.....

    My original plan was to have three chickens but I ended up with nine!
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010

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