Need Help Planning a new coop to hold at least 15 or so chickens.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ruder ranch, Feb 7, 2011.

  1. ruder ranch

    ruder ranch New Egg

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    Hi here on the Ruder Ranch we are planning to build a better chicken coop then the last one which was a pretty basic on the ground coop. We want to make a good coop w/run that can withstand the basic weather of southern Indiana which includes snow and some ice and also the predators which slaughter our last 10 hens. Includes:Hawks, Red Foxes, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, weasels, and neighbors cats. We live in a wooded area with a small plain so we have plenty of space to build. We (My Father) wants to know the best and most cost efficient way to have a large enough coop with an easy way to get to eggs and also easy cleaning methods. Easy feeding system and watering system with plans. Please post your ideas and plans. Also what is your guys/girls idea's on fiberglass roofs or windows?
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Most cost efficient use of materials would be an 8' X 8' with roof slanting one way, steeply enough for snow to slide off. A metal roof might cost a bit more initially but is no maintenance for many years and snow slides off the most readily. External nest boxes make egg collection easy but IMO are not worth the extra expense in materials, effort, and exposure to rain/snow and predators -- they need to be weatherstripped and locked, preferably with a padlock. Simple enough to take a few step and go inside, which also ensures finding any eggs they laid on the floor or dropped from the roost. Leave about a 6" tall gap across the front, under some overhang, or do similar on the sloping sides, for ventilation. Secure the opening with large washers, screws and hardware cloth. Easy enough to cover with a little plastic or whatever, if you really want to, in really cold weather, though this may not be necessary, or only one side, as you need the ventilation regardless of temps.

    Simplest to maintain is deep litter, the old fashioned version, on a dirt floor. Location needs to be well drained and a little elevated. Secure a 2' apron all around for predator protection. Add hay or pine shavings, or both, add more as needed (won't be as often as you think,) and remove and replace in spring and fall, to the compost bin. I wouldn't have anything but my dirt floor.

    Have no experience with auto feeders or waterers. I am in the coop a minimum of twice a day and do it the old fashioned way. I do know there are a number of plans on here for both, homemade. You can even google and get some plans.

    What you will want for ease of maintenance in that climate is electric and, preferably, water at the coop. Then something like a heated dog water bowl keeps the water liquid and doesn't need that much time to maintain. Or build a cookie tin water heater for a few bucks, but again, you need electric. I've never read of a good way to KEEP water liquid in cold temps without power.

    For 15 chickens all you really need is 3 or 4 nests; these can be plastic WalMart bins, or a couple of kitty litter pans. A lot simpler and easier to clean and maintain than external boxes. If I were going to build external nest boxes despite the hassles, I would go ahead and build rollaway ones, in case I ever developed that kind of problem.

    Another thought. If they will not have a covered run or area they are willing to go out in even after a good snow, it would be much safer to build at least twice that size. 4 sq ft per chicken when they stay in the coop for days or weeks at a time is really not nearly enough.
     
  3. ruder ranch

    ruder ranch New Egg

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    Feb 7, 2011
    Thank you for the ideas, but you see I think we kinda have to lift the coop off the ground since the water table around us is better high. We are less than about 1/4 mile or less from a rather large size creek. Last time we tried deep method it didn't work very well, also probably due to the bad roof we had on, but we did have problems with predators even with wire dug down 12inches, but i think i have a could idea, but i think if we put gravel down and some other rocks then top soil over that it should work very well. Also for the run i have seen a couple of people making hardwire all the way around it and also the top, which is probably really needed for us, for hawks. How high should the fence be for the chickens in the run. Thanks again for the responses.
     
  4. StupidBird

    StupidBird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As far as height to the run, I'm making mine tall enough that no one has to stoop or duck to walk through it. Ours is under construction, check the photos on my web page. The initial enclosure will be incorporating everything except a hot wire as defense. This will be all they get on days I'm not home. We will be fencing in the orchard with 4 or 5 foot stock mesh and 3 wood rails, but will have something temporary up soon as we just came home with 12 chicks to speed things along. The hens will have run of this while I'm home; for hawks I will string fishing line through the orchard with sparkly things, like seen here on BYC. The height of the fence will hopefully keep out dogs. keeping chickens in? may have to clip wing feathers.

    Our coop will be up off the ground by 2 1/2 feet. There will be a big door to rake out bedding and to duck and stoop through (I lost that part of the planning). But am doing external lay boxes. A raised floor, walk in coop will just have to wait until we retire from the subdivision.

    All our rocks will be going to cover the buried skirt - laying it horizontally, can't dig it in. I anticipate finding lots of granite rocks as we're having more lawn plowed under as soon as things dry out enough.

    eta - oops! haven't posted the new photos
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2011
  5. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

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    I haven't built my coop yet but wanted to mention that you can get things like windows, flooring, hardware, a door, and maybe even roofing at a Habitat for Humanity Restore or your local construction salvage yard. Much cheaper than buying new! You can sometimes get free lumber from tear-downs on Freecycle or Craigslist.

    We go on vacation fairly regularly and it was important to me not to have to hire a chicken sitter. I'm making a bucket nipple waterer for inside the coop and a second for out in the run (plus two little nipple waterers for the brooder box). I'm also making a bucket feeder. You can find plans for these items online and they're certainly much cheaper to construct than the commercial equivalents. Buckets are often free for the taking from your local grocery bakery.

    ETA: You can have outside access for eggs without building an external nestbox. It rains very hard here so I had concerns about external boxes leaking. My solution was egg doors. You simply cut a square panel in the wall, add some trim pieces like a picture frame to cover the cut lines, put on a knob, hinges, and a raccoon-proof latch... And yes, you can simply go in to get the eggs but it's easier to get someone who doesn't have chickens to come collect the eggs if they don't have to go into the coop to do so. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2011
  6. ruder ranch

    ruder ranch New Egg

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    I like all these ideas. The water unit i think must be pipe in the same goes for electric too. Any one else got any other ideas and price estimates in building coops that can hold at least 15 chickens? Also thanks to posters you all have great ideas.
     
  7. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I like the egg doors idea! You can mount the nests high enough that the chickens can walk under them, giving them more interior space.

    OP, it's pretty low around here, too; we're only 200' or so above sea level, and any kind of rain raises the water table fairly close to the surface. Part of this property is officially a flood plain. It's just a matter of digging up and piling a bunch of dirt. Many around here have ponds -- because they used the dirt to build up land under the house.
    Thing is, if it's wet, you want the land built up anyway, to avoid walking around in muck to get near the coop. Plus if you don't raise the land where the run will be, you'll be on here trying to figure out how to fix a muddy run.

    It's much easier and just as effective to lay a fencing material apron on the ground and secure it than dig down. You can buy landscaping staples to secure it until the grass grows up through it. Also, with this approach, you can see when it begins to rust out or break down.

    Not quite sure what you have in mind for the gravel then rocks then top soil, but gravel and rocks quickly sink into the dirt and disappear.

    I don't have a run. I've read lots of comments on here from people who had, say, 3' high runs and got tired of bending to clean and modified them so they could walk in them.

    A good link, if you haven't seen it, and more links on the page:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-fix-a-muddy-run
     
  8. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

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    The egg doors were what my aunt had on her ancient coop. I figured that if it's worked for her for 30 years...

    I wanted to mention that the advantage to bucket waterers is that you can simply buy a bucket de-icer for $30 and keep the water from freezing in the winter. Run it though a pipe and then you have to keep that pipe from freezing as well as your water source.
     
  9. kateseidel

    kateseidel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We started with 16 hens, down to 14. 8x12 coop, 7x12 run - but the girls free-range all day. If I was keeping them penned up more, I would want a bigger run.

    We bought a garden shed and converted it to chicken purposes; never saw the need for an outside nest box area, because I like going into the coop to be with the hens (and I do like to go in and clean daily).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. ruder ranch

    ruder ranch New Egg

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    I think we really like the idea's of the external egg doors. The ease of getting eggs everyday would be easier than going in everyday. (Funny story, Mother feeding the chickens and accidentally falls trips and the chickens raid her for she has the food. She is yelling and screaming. Father is just standing there laughing.) Im pretty sure that the external nesting/egg doors is the way we probably will go, for mother will not go into the coop anymore, she kinda fears the little kids and the big roo.
     

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