my cheap design. any ideas?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by mendozer, Mar 2, 2011.

  1. mendozer

    mendozer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 27, 2011
    seattle
    i'm designing a coop on paper to build in a few weeks. I'm looking for an A frame tractor style so i can move them to new grass every once in a while. I got some scrap wood and a roll of mesh (I'll have to get more I'm sure). i'm thinking of attaching the run to the coop, but not sure yet. similar to this http://www.mypetchicken.com/catalog/Chicken-Coops/The-Briar-Tractor-up-to-3-chickens-p819.aspx

    although
    the coop will be bigger. I'm thinking this:
    using a free cabinet for nest boxes, angle off the backs to mount level on the slanted plywood. plywood makes the A frame. run an old rake pole across for a roost post. doors behind the nesting boxes and food/water area for removal. door in front to let them into the run during the day. On the side without the nesting boxes, maybe cut a long window and cover with mesh for light and ventilation. I'll put a scrap piece of wood over that to protect from rain.

    Frame of this will be boards that were split and given to me free. Framing will be 3 triangles (front back middle) joined by the long pieces on the bottom and one at the top.

    I plan to buy only hinges and wheels from the hardware store. I have a miter 10" saw and a hand saw, no table. So i'm avoiding long cuts. The pieces i got are all long already and under 10" width.

    Wheels will be mounted into the back bottom frame (which I'll make the biggest) with 2" or so of clearance for rolling. Under each triangle frame piece I'll nail a piece of wood to level it with the wheels in the back.

    I'll line the boxes with pine shavings. I suppose i could use floormat or rug (i saw that somewhere and it looked interesting)

    QUESTIONS:
    does the floor need to be elevated off the grass? I figure the coop would be bottomless so they have grass to eat/poop on in the coop and out in the run.
    I see a lot of coops with shavings on the floor. why? i thought that was only necessary for nesting boxes.
    Does the run need to be big since the coop is over the grass?

    facts: i have no chickens yet, but I'm planning to get two laying hens and 2 chicks to raise indoors and introduce later. So right now they'll be two nesting boxes, but I could add more. I'm in Seattle, so I'll cover all my plywood with painter's plastic sheeting to waterproof it. I don't have measurements yet (only the cabinet turned nesting box - 31.5 long x 18 deep x 23 high). I'll determine my total coop size after seeing that finished and seeing if I can score more free wood (planning on it this weekend)


    So, will this work? Assuming I don't botch the plan and it collapses on my chickens! Any ideas to add would be very helpful as well.

    I'll scan my crappy drawings and post when i get home
     
  2. aka Rachel

    aka Rachel Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sounds pretty good so far. The only thing I ever really worried about was managing the food and water for them, but seems like you have a plan!

    And two nest boxes sound fair, even for four layers.

    Of course I don't know what your predator situation is like, but plan for that too (heavier wire, no gaps under frame etc.)

    If you don't attach the coop will you just put the birds out in the tractor everyday? Back and forth?
     
  3. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 23, 2009
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    Welcome to the forum!

    I wouldn't recommend that you use a pole for a roost (if by pole you mean something that's completely round). Something flatter is better for a chicken's foot. Either a board with the edges planed and sanded down, or a wide, natural tree branch (at least as wide than the chicken's foot).

    If the bottom of the coop part of your tractor is open, then that leaves your chickens vulnerable to night time predators. If the predator gets into the run, it could then get to the chickens. Tractors are harder to make predator resistant than a stationary coop because you can't permanently stake a wire apron all around the perimeter to prevent critters from digging in.

    People often put shavings or some kind of bedding on the floor of a coop to make clean up easier. It's also very useful to put a board or tray of some kind right under the roost so that all the droppings from the night (chickens poop while they sleep) can be easily removed. In cold climates, coop bedding can also provide some insulation.

    I wouldn't recommend that you go less than 10 square feet per chicken for the size of your tractor run. Less than that seems pretty crowded to me, even with plenty of fresh grass in a tractor moved every day.

    In terms of your plans for 4 chickens, it really would be much simpler just to get all 4 the same age, either all layers or all chicks. Chicks will need to be housed separately until they're essentially full grown before you integrate them with the adults. Otherwise, the younger birds may be severely bullied by the older hens, even to the point of blood letting and/or being kept away from the feed station. Once the younger birds are full grown, the integration process is itself something of a hassle. You let the two groups of birds see, but not get to each other (side by side pens). Once they're introduced this way for several weeks, you then allow them to mix and watch for trouble. You can just stick the two groups of birds together without ceremony and see what happens, but you're much more likely to experience problems if you do. Chicken society is actually fairly complex.

    I went through integrating two groups of chickens last spring and summer, and the young chicks were actually hatched out by our hens themselves: their own babies! But once the hens had finished raising their chicks at about 5 weeks, they treated their offspring like any other interloper to the flock. It was the end of August before the two groups were fully and peacefully integrated as a single flock.
     
  4. mendozer

    mendozer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 27, 2011
    seattle
    the only predators i can think of would be squirrels. are those predators? haha

    also, i guess i'll make the floor of the coop wired. i do want their poop ending on the grass. less work for me since i'll be putting it on the grass anywho. as for attaching , i guess i kind of have to attach the run. although there will be a door to close off the coop. i'm still debating the feed situation. whether to build it into the wall and open it from the outside to fill it or just give them a cut shallow yogurt container and i place it in there every morning.
     
  5. darkbyrd

    darkbyrd Out Of The Brooder

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    Use screws, and pre-drill your holes. I use the star-drive exterior deck screws, 2" and 3" with a 1/8 drill bit. They will hold up better than nails when it gets moved around.
     
  6. mendozer

    mendozer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 27, 2011
    seattle
    [​IMG]

    there's my crummy drawing. I hope i'm conveying what I want in that. I can never put all my thoughts onto paper. Basically the A frame with plywood walls. nester built into the side (maybe the back).
     
  7. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Um, sorry, no! Everything that eats meat loves to prey on chickens. Raccoons are the no. 1 urban enemy of chickens. They're vicious, deadly, clever and strong. They can climb, open hook latches, pry apart loose boards and rip through chicken wire in a matter of seconds.

    Seriously. Browse in the Predators and Pests section of this forum for a while so you understand what you're up against. If you don't, you're likely to come out one morning to the bloody remains of what used to be your chickens.

    One of the guys who works at our local grocery store started keeping chickens last summer, and we'd chat about our mutual interest whenever we saw him at the store. Last month, when I asked how his chickens were doing, he had to tell me they had all been killed by a predator, he wasn't sure what. And this is in the middle of Dallas.

    At the first meeting we went to of our local poultry club, half of the people at the meeting had either lost birds or had their whole flocks wiped out before they realized, oops! need to build coops that are secure from predators! And chicken wire won't do the job, either.

    Forewarned is forearmed.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2011
  8. mendozer

    mendozer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 27, 2011
    seattle
    well i'm using fine wire mesh, not the big hole chicken wire. is this measure good enough?
     
  9. mendozer

    mendozer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 27, 2011
    seattle
    ok modification...

    Still a frame but double level. Coop on top with run underneath. The opening from the run to coop part is closable for predators at night. The run end of the frame will fold down for cleaning access too.

    Food and water will be in coop area with accessible panel for refilling. or should it be in the run? Do they eat/drink overnight?

    I'm also figuring that with this new design, ventilation will be fine without putting holes in the sides of the frame. Although light would be good. I'll see if i can find some plexiglass for lighting.

    i became inspired after seeing channel12001's coop here

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=168667&p=3

    except my access door will fold down not up, just for east of reaching in. nest door style from page before with red coop.
    I suppose i can also border off the solid wood in the coop (around the grated roost portion) for bedding. I guess it'll help with moisture absorption.

    Feeders will be yogurt containers until i figure out something ingenious. Don't want to spend money on long term feeders since i'll check them daily.

    and on the weekends when i'm in the yard i'll let them out to forage while i work on the garden.

    Still will feature the wheels and handles to lift and move to new grass. It'll be flush on the ground now for predator protection. I'm also assuming that raccoons (if there are any here) can't break through the door leading to the coop. I think it'll be fine.


    Do they need a ramp? I would think they can jump right on up. Or i could make the ramp be the door and hinge somehow. Time between classes is spent thinking about my coop, not studying. oops

    new plan design will be scanned tonight.
     
  10. allieloveschickens

    allieloveschickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 20, 2010
    San Diego
    Seems like you have a good coop planned, If you use hardware cloth (wire) that will keep out raccoons, opossums, etc. as opposed to chicken wire. They will probably not need a ramp if the door is pretty low down. I have a ramp on my coop but sometimes they jump up anyway, and the door is 3 feet up. You eventually will want larger food containers so that you don't have to fill them so often- and I would put one in the coop so they can eat when they want to, my experience with my chickens is that when they don't have food inside they get very very noisy very very early until I let them out. I do keep the water out in the run so they don't make a soggy mess inside.
     

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