My Florida chicken pen (edited & PIC heavy)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by BankerJohn, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. BankerJohn

    BankerJohn Songster

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    Apr 2, 2010
    Lecanto, Florida
    I live in Florida and bought chickens for my daughters, ages 7 & 10. We brooded the chicks in a 55 gallon fish tank in the house. While growing (quickly, I might add), I embarked on a design for our new flock. In observing our young chickens, I noticed several things: Chickens are messy and will foul their own water source and foul their own food source.

    Since we live in Florida, heat is more of a concern than cold. There are days that will get into freezing temperatures, but rarely will the temps dip into the teens. In learning about chickens, I found that they are very cold hardy. Therefore, our design is focused more on ventilation rather than cold protection measures.

    In planning of the design, I had many requirements:
    1) Low Maintenance
    2) Water source that is sanitary
    3) Water source with 1 week supply, minimum
    4) Feeding system with 1 week supply minimum
    5) Roost space for 8-10 birds
    6) Solid north face wall to protect against the few days that may have freezing temps
    7) Method to control odors
    8) Deep litter method is out due to the composting effect and we live in Florida - too much heat generation. Did I mention smells - YUCK!
    9) Water Proof
    11) Critter/predator proof
    12) Egg access with low maintenance nest materials
    13) Low cost - I do live in a budget

    After thinking through these various requirements, I began to formulate our plan...
    1) Watering Nipples. These have been a Godsend to us. If you have never seen them in action, please do a search on BYC. I found them because of someone on here. Best investment I have made in this design. We made our own watering system using a 5 gallon bucket as the resevoir then piped thru 3/4" PVC into the pen with 4 nipples on downspouts. None of the joints are glued and can be taken apart for cleaning. I added 5 pennies to the resevoir (copper reduced algae growth) and add a few drops of vinegar to the water with each new 5 gallon pail.

    2) Feeding system. There was a lot of thought that went into this. I wanted something that the birds could not roost upon and therefore poop into; something that was adjustable to keep them from scratching feed out of the container to prevent waste; something that could hold minimum 25# of food at a time. We settled on a home made feeder out of a 5 gallon bucket with holes drilled and a planter bottom bolted to the bottom of the bucket (see pics below). The bucket is suspended on a pulley to adjust the height of the feeder. On the rope, there is a trash can lid threaded that is suspended at the top of the bucket. The trash can lid 100% prevents birds from perching on the feeder bucket.

    3) Flooring material. I spent a lot of time researching the flooring materials. I have 3 requirements: Odor control, low maintenace poop control, no muddy runs aloud. I considered an enclosed coop with attached run. Enclosed coop did would be too hot and lack enough ventilation. It was decided on an open air pen with partial covering for rain protection. Flooring could be just dirt. Then I began thinking about the common afternoon deluge rain storms we have in Florida. Wetness breeds odors and bacteria. After researching (again a big thanks to BYC), we decided to make a flooring that is designed after a french drain: start with a layer of hardware cloth to prevent an underground predator digging attack, then a layer of 1/4" screened rock from a local quarry, topped with landscape cloth to allow moisture to drain through it, topped with a deep layer of sand. The landscape cloth keeps the sand from filling the voids in the rock. The voids in the rock allow the moisute to drain QUICKLY from the surface. The dry sand will pull moisture out of the poop therefore GREATLY reducing the ammonia smells associated with a typical coop. The sand floor provides an endless supply of grit. The sand floor, due to its moisture wicking capabilities makes poop clean up a SNAP. Think kitty litter scoop (this is exactly what I use, a small shovel designed to scoop poo out then shake to allow the sand to fall back through the screen in the shovel).

    4) Roofing material: Metal roofing gets BLAZING hot in the summers when the sun bakes on the bare metal. We opted for U.V. protected polycarbonate roofing panels, similar to what is used on greenhouses. This allows for some see through to allow more light in winter for better egg production. The heat transfer is GREATLY reduced and the smoke color provides excellent shade for the flock in the middle of the day with the benefit of a reduction in temperature.

    5) Egg collection: To keep costs down and maintenace to a minimum, I use plastic crates designed to hold a case of soda (you can see them in one of the pics below outside the pen). The crate is lined with an astro turf type door mate cut to size for bedding (an example can be found here: http://www.meyerhatchery.com/get_item_np_laying-nest-pad.htm). The astro turf is made of plastic and can be sprayed under pressure with a hose to clean it, shaken dry and re-used. Titleist Pro-V1's are used to encourage only the finest eggs! LOL

    I built this in March 2010. I am providing this write up to help others that may be in the planning stage of 'what do I build?" I have no construction experience. Heck, I had to borrow the tools (including the screw gun) to build this. I am by NO MEANS an expert, just a novice who listened to others, took what I felt the best of the best ideas and implemented based upon my own opinions after researching. If you are in the planning stages, I encourage you to enjoy the process of keeping your flock. For me, a low maintence system makes it a FUN ownership and will allow me to stay involved not letting it feel like WORK.

    Water resevoir and north face of pen. Crate used for nest boxes laying off to the side (black things in pic)
    [​IMG]

    A view of the predominant open air design for MAXIMUM ventilation
    [​IMG]

    The rock flooring before landscape cloth and sand. Also shown is the pipe for the water nipples, the feeder and roost in the back ground
    [​IMG]

    This is a view from the roost bars. Again, the trash can lid prevents birds from roosting on the feeing station.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2010
  2. Terri O

    Terri O Songster

    Good job! Looks like you did your research well and didnt just "jump head first!" Enjoy your chickens! Terri O--who wishes cold wasnt an issue here!
     
  3. Rockerchic

    Rockerchic Chirping

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    Jun 23, 2010
    Awesome job on the coop/run! I just paid $18 for a similar feed system, and I like yours better! Your water delivery system is the best I've seen here so far. Good description of the floor surface system, again one of the best I've heard of. I live in San Diego, and your gravel to sand system may be a better option for me than the straw I've got going right now. Have fun with your flock, Rockerchic:cool:
     
  4. halo

    halo Got The Blues

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    Nov 22, 2007
    Florida
    My Coop
    Drop dead gorgeous!! And Im thrilled with the ventilation; that seems to be one issue that new people underestimate, more ventilation is always better.

    Actually looks like a Florida room for your chicks, really nice job! (Im a teensy bit jealous, actually!).
     
  5. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

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    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    Ncie
     
  6. cfdf

    cfdf Songster

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    Apr 12, 2010
    [​IMG] Very Very Nice! But one thing..... [​IMG] I told my hubby I was getting my chickens for my grandkids to enjoy....you said you got them for your kids.... [​IMG] REALLY???.... [​IMG] [​IMG] Don't they make great excuses to get chickens? [​IMG]
     
  7. BankerJohn

    BankerJohn Songster

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    Apr 2, 2010
    Lecanto, Florida
    Quote:My youngest daughter is the BIGGEST animal lover. My wife, on the other hand, has horrible allergies. We have been unable to keep any pets due to the wifes allergies (except for a coral reef tank). The youngest has been asking for a pet for over 2 years. We were hoping the fad would fade - it did not. One evening in February at dinner, after the prayer and while everyone had their mouth full, our youngest said she needed to talk to us. After almost choking and in amazement/curiosity, she proceeded to remind us that she wants "chickens". When asked why chickens, she replied, "because they have to live outside and you can't say no because of Mommy's allergies!"

    am I whipped or what? LOLOL
     
  8. BayouPoules

    BayouPoules Songster

    We think it's great! Nice shady spot too!
    Nice to see pics of folks enjoying their chickens!
    [​IMG]
     
  9. cfdf

    cfdf Songster

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    Apr 12, 2010
    Quote:My youngest daughter is the BIGGEST animal lover. My wife, on the other hand, has horrible allergies. We have been unable to keep any pets due to the wifes allergies (except for a coral reef tank). The youngest has been asking for a pet for over 2 years. We were hoping the fad would fade - it did not. One evening in February at dinner, after the prayer and while everyone had their mouth full, our youngest said she needed to talk to us. After almost choking and in amazement/curiosity, she proceeded to remind us that she wants "chickens". When asked why chickens, she replied, "because they have to live outside and you can't say no because of Mommy's allergies!"

    am I whipped or what? LOLOL

    Not whipped! I say you are a GREAT DAD! [​IMG]
     
  10. BankerJohn

    BankerJohn Songster

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    Apr 2, 2010
    Lecanto, Florida
    Thanks for the comments and PM's. I hope I have replied to everyone.
     

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