Need advice for a chicken tractor/coop I'm building

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Nerdicus, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. Nerdicus

    Nerdicus Out Of The Brooder

    As the title suggests I am about to start building a chicken coop. We are planning on getting 10-15 dorking chickens in the spring and I want to build a nice little coop for them.

    So far I have a design that is like a rectangular box on its side with a sloped roof. The dimensions are 24 in deep by 48 inches long and 36 to 48 inches high with a sloped roof. Is that big enough> The chickens will have a decently sized run that they will run around during the day, so the coop is just for laying and bed time.

    The lady who I am getting the chickens from has all her chickens in a tiny little chicken tractor is smaller then mine and has more chickens then mine, and she says her are very happy. And they seemed to be just that, but to me I think they need more. [​IMG]

    I am constructing the thing out of 2x2s and 1/2 inch plywood, and am hoping that I can put it on wheels and have it movable, but I fear the overall size of the thing and the 2x2s might mean moving it will likely break it......so I'll plya that part by ear I guess.

    So yeah, is that enough room for a potential 15 chickens?

    Also, how big do nesting boxes need to be?
     
  2. scooter147

    scooter147 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Personally I don't think it is big enough. I see you are in Canada won't the chickens be confined to the coop for months with extreme cold and snow?
     
  3. Nerdicus

    Nerdicus Out Of The Brooder

    Hardly extreme. This year has been colder then most and we only got about 2 feet of snow and -20 degrees c and that didn't last more then two weeks. Well, the roof falloff is still kicking on the shaded side of the house, but otherwise all traces of snow are gone.

    Normally we have mild winters with temps around -1 to -7 and a few spats of snow fall the rarely lasts longer then a few days at the most. So I'm hoping that the chickens can be out and about for most of the year. Even at our coldest the days usually warm enough that everything thaws( the ground most importantly). We live off the south west coast of BC, so we're farther south then New York I believe.

    So far the coop fits into the dimensions that the plywood I have on hand will fit into. So if it needs to be bigger I can get more. I am also thinking that if I find it way too small I might just build a chicken coop addition. [​IMG]

    How big would you say they need? Remember, they will have a covered run ontop of this for protective daytime freerange.
     
  4. lalyswishytail

    lalyswishytail Out Of The Brooder

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    I agree with scooter147. The general rule I've been reading about is 4 square feet per chicken. For 15 chickens you would need 60 square feet. I think your plan is 2' x 4' which would be 8 square feet. I would say that unless your chickens are completely free range and only go in and out of the coop when they choose, your current design is not big enough. Honestly, from the description you wrote about the woman with more than 15 chickens in a SMALLER coop than you are planning, I'd say she was running a cruel operation.

    Also, regarding the 2x2s...I think you're right. 2 x 4s would be stronger especially if you plan to move the coop.

    Nest boxes...Hmmm, I think a lot of people have suggested a 10" x 12" x 12" kind of construction. I've also seen pictures of milk crates and covered cat litter boxes used for nesting boxes!

    I'm in the planning stages for my first flock of chickens too so I'm no expert. You'll have to put up a picture of whatever design you come up with. I know my first one is going to be pretty crude compared to some of the chalets I've seen on this site ; 0 )
     
  5. scooter147

    scooter147 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I can't remember and too lazy to look it up [​IMG] are dorkings bantams? If so I believe 3 square feet per bird is sufficient, the general rule is 4 square feet per bird for standard breeds.
     
  6. emandmikey

    emandmikey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would make it bigger - count on at least 3 square feet inside the coop per bird... and roosting space for each one too, off of the ground. It sounds really small for that many birds.
     
  7. Nerdicus

    Nerdicus Out Of The Brooder

    Well, the chickens will have a run that will be about.....8 feet by over 20 feet that is totally enclosed, and they will be free to run around in there as they choose from sun up to sun down, plus we will be building movable runs that go over the garden that they can go in for crazy bug eating frenzied fun.

    I'm thinking that the 4 square feet per chicken is for chickens that are cooped up all the time and so need the room. Mine should only be in the coop at night time and when they want during the day.

    As to the lady who I am getting the chickens from, hers are full out free range chickens and she loves her chickens, so I don't think it is a cruel operation she is running. She explained that her chickens are happy to bustle into the coop after a long day foraging around their property and have never voiced any complaints about management. [​IMG]

    So, to be clear, is that 4 feet per chicken for a coop that is inside a large run? Or should the run count into calculations?
     
  8. lalyswishytail

    lalyswishytail Out Of The Brooder

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    I've seen people write that the coop should be 4 square feet per bird, (along with 18" of roost space and 1 sqauare foot of ventilation), and 10 square feet per bird out in a run. Your 8' x 60' run is obviously big enough for 15 chickens, but what about in the winter? Just thinking...
     
  9. scooter147

    scooter147 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The four square feet per bird is the building itself. Just be careful putting chickens into too small a space. There will be times when they will need to be confined to the inside coop accomendations.
    Over crowding can lead to a whole host of problems you don't want to deal with and in my humble opinion feather picking and cannabilism is the worst. Once it starts it is almost impossible to stop and the only sure way to stop it is to cull the flock.
    My honest opinion is to increase the coop size or reduce the size of the flock.
     
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    The coop will be 2'x4' ?

    Man, you'd have to push hard, or stack 'em, just to GET 10-15 dorkings IN there [​IMG]

    2x4 is 8 square feet total. For 10 birds, that is less than 1 square foot per bird; for 15 it is approximately 0.5 square feet per bird.

    Another way of looking at it is, if you had two parallel roosts running the length of the house (so that it was just a roosting box, nothing else in there), you'd have 8 linear feet, which is only 6" width per chicken if you have 15 chickens, which is not really enough room for a larger bodied breed like dorkings even if they are all verrry friendly with each other. (And with that little space, I'm not sure it's smart ot count on them being all that friendly with each other).

    Sorry, but I do not think that is at ALL workable or wise.

    If you were in a climate that never got much below freezing and was never real rainy or ucky, I'd say "well, sure, maybe, as long as you can provide sufficient roost space". But even in a warm part of BC I just don't see it as real likely to work, and even if you got away with it, it sure doesn't seem like a GOOD way to keep chickens.

    Personally I'd quadruple the size of the coop, stick with just 10 chickens, make the run good size, and plan on winterizing the run with a SNOW LOAD PROOF roof and something to block the wind on the upwind side, and possibly straw or etc on the ground, to make it as congenial as possible.

    Good luck,

    Pat, with 15 sq ft per chicken indoors *plus* the run, and they really are happier and more relaxed that way.
     

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