My Coop - Suggestions welcome! (I'm new at this!)


In the Brooder
11 Years
Oct 18, 2008
Hubby and I have decided to raise our own organic chickens for eggs and meat. We have 17 babies (of which I'll post pics of in another forum), and our friend gave us one rooster, and one hen about to start laying (so we don't have to wait 4 months for eggs). We built our coop 8X8. It is not quite finished yet. This weekend we will cut our windows, and a little door for them to go out into a run. Plus, we'll add an enclosed run to the side of the coop. We're thinking 8X10. Our nesting boxes will also go in this weekend.

So, a few questions:
1. I'm finding they are making a real mess with the water (and there are only 2 of them right now!). The water sits in the far corner on the cement brick. It is up as high as the food in the middle. Should we try to place it higher? Seriously, they have the shavings soaked about 18" out surrounding the water. I hate to think of how cold that will be during the winter. (in Canada!)
You can see I've placed the water just outside the coop for now, hoping to let the coop dry with the nice sunshine we're having today.

2. The perches - they don't seem to be using them. Are they up too high? They are about 2.5' and more from the ground.

3. The outside run - How high should it be? Is there any reason we will need to access it?

I suppose those are the main questions for now. Thanks for any help/suggestions!




12 Years
Apr 6, 2007
1-Raise or hang the water more. Mine make a mess out of it too and love to perch on
top of it.

2-Give them time. They will use the perch. Usually one starts and the others follow.

3-The run should be as big as possible. 5 to 10 square feet per bird is good.

Your coop looks very good. Best of luck with you fluffers.


11 Years
Mar 21, 2008
Centre Rawdon, Nova Scotia, Canada
I'm in Nova Scotia- website below shows what we did. I've also invested in a double-sided galvanized waterer and a heater base for winter. We have a patio square up on cinder blocks to keep our waterers clean and for the birds to sharpen their beaks. Make the run comfortable for you, too. Ours is 8' high, gives them flight space and it has a platform, all shown in link below. Working very well!
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11 Years
Oct 5, 2008
Hope Mills, NC
You may need to cover your run to prevent predators getting in. I would say AT LEAST 5 foot. You need to get in to clean it, and sadly if one of your babies is sick, or worse. I am learning this the hard way with my 3' coop


12 Years
May 24, 2007
Welcome to BYC! Your coop is looking good.

I suggest you hang the waterer with the bottom at the level of the chickens backs.

They will eventually use the roosts, some start out using them by the time they're a few days old and some don't 'get it' until they are a couple of months old. Once one starts the others will start to understand and use it also but it could take a few weeks. In the future if you have a couple that don't seem to figure it out you can literally go out after dark and physically lift them up onto it.

I totally agree you need to make the run as large as you possible can. Yes, you want to make it high enough to walk into unless you absolutely can't afford to do so. There are many times you may need to get into the run (cleaning, getting a sick or injured bird) so start out with it high and you'll be happier in the long run.

Just one other comment. An 8x8 coop has enough floor space for about 16 standard size chickens. And actually, that's pushing it since you have to allow floor space for feeder, waterer and nest boxes (unless they are on the outside of the building). You may want to think about the size as chickens often become bored and start to feather peck each other if they ever have to be locked up (as is likely in the winter). The outside run should allow a minimum of 10 sq. feet per standard size chicken.

Congrats on your chickens... have fun!


Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
Ontario, Canada
Hi, welcome to byc!

What others said about raising the water. Put it as high as you can, truly. If you still have problems with spills, it'd be good to get in the habit of removing the damp shavings asap, because dampness in the coop in winter can be a real problem.

And yes, you DEFINITELY need a bigger run, especially since you are rather tight on space inside the coop. You might oughta be thinking in the range of 10x16 or 10x20. At that size, you will definitely want it tall enough for you to walk relatively normally inside (although tiny runs, for just a couple chickens, can be made 2-3' high with a lid that tips open for human access).

Might be a real good idea to cut some ventilation openings (like maybe 6" high, most of the way between studs, high on all 4 walls) with hnged or sliding covers so you can adjust how open they are. You WILL need ventilation all winter, I promise.

Good luck and have fun,


my first peepers

11 Years
Jul 9, 2008
South Western VT
If the two older birds aren't using the roosts you can go in once they've gone to bed and put them up there. You might have to do this a few times but they will catch on. If you give the babies small roosts and make them progressively larger and higher as they grown they will be more likely to figure it out. I would make your run tall enough that you can get around in it...I am now building a second run because I made they first one too short.

Good luck!


12 Years
Mar 23, 2007
Central Iowa
I just noticed the overhang over the entrance door. Cover that with screen like in screen storm doors. That will provide some ventilation to the coop.

Giv them some time to adjust. The first couple times you keep them in over night will make them learn where to go and what to do. They will be fine there.



In the Brooder
11 Years
Oct 18, 2008
Thank you all for the suggestions!

I convinced my hubby we should make the run tall enough to walk in. So, for now we're starting with an 8' X 8' area, 6' high. We're following Galaxy_Man's photos of his run - thank you Galaxy Man! We made the end a piece on it's own, fastened with screws, so we can remove it and lengthen the run in the spring. From what we understand, the chicks (who are 3 weeks old now) shouldn't go outside this winter, so it will only be used by the older hen and rooster until spring.

I've scooped up the wet shavings surrounding the water. Until we get a base made to set the water higher, I've replaced the big plastic waterer with a small water dish, which we will need to refill often, but for now, it saves the mess. Less water, less mess. During the day, they have access to the big waterer outside the coop.

They are using the roosts! I opened the door this morning, and there they were. On the very top one.

As for possibly cramping my chickens when the 17 babies make it to the coop, I'll keep an eye on it, and if it seems they are not doing okay with it, I can bring a few to a friend of mine. There's 3 of us that are in this together.

Thanks everyone for the help! I love this website!

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