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Need help with first coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by sandy_llg, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. sandy_llg

    sandy_llg New Egg

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    Hello all! I have recently purchased my first chicks and they are living in the garage till they get bigger and we have a coop built. I am on overload with the variety of chicken coops available and would like some experienced input. I have purchased 10 chicks and will be keeping only the hens.

    This is what we were thinking.
    The building would be about 5 x 8 (this can be changed). It will be tall enough to stand in. (Hubby will be building, but will probably look like a shed).
    We haven't decided on a size for the fenced area yet, but I have read we need to bury 1' of fence around the perimeter. What's the best kind of fencing to use? Does it need to be completely enclosed (covered)?
    I was thinking of locking the chickens in the house at night for protection from predators, does anyone do this?
    Do you normally feed and water in the house or outside?
    What kind of ventillation is needed in the house? We live in central Tennessee.
    How many windows are normally put in a coop?

    That's all the questions I can think of for now. Just want to say thank you for any suggestions.
     
  2. bantamman13

    bantamman13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome from East Tenn. you might want to check out the coop and run section for a lot of great ideas on what you will need. Good luck with the coop.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    The building would be about 5 x 8 (this can be changed). It will be tall enough to stand in. (Hubby will be building, but will probably look like a shed). We haven't decided on a size for the fenced area yet, but I have read we need to bury 1' of fence around the perimeter. What's the best kind of fencing to use? Does it need to be completely enclosed (covered)?

    The rule of thumb is 4 square feet per chicken in the coop and 10 square feet per chicken in the run. More is always better. These dimensions assume feeding and watering inside and takes into account the poop load the coop can carry based on normal practices. To match your coop, I'd think about an 8 x 12 run minimum, even if you don't now plan on more chickens. Since building materials comein standard 4' and 8' sizes, you might want to consider changing the size of your coop to multiple of these. With wastage, I don't think an 8'x8' would cost that much more than a 5'x8'. The biggest additional expense would probably be in the roofing material. Of course,a 4'x8' would cost less. Just a thought.

    You do not want to rely on chicken wire. A raccoon, fox, or coyote can destroy that in no time. I'd consider welded wire due to cost, although hardware cloth works quite well. With the welded wire, you probably should put chicken wire around the bottom 3 feet to keep the chickens from sticking their heads out where a predator could take it off. Instead of burying it straight down, you can bury it horizontally just a few inches. I'd recommend at least 18" out from the fence and connect it to the bottom of the fence. The idea is that a predator will come up to the fence and start digging. He'll hit the buried wire and will not be able to get through. This may be easier than vertical burial.

    I was thinking of locking the chickens in the house at night for protection from predators, does anyone do this?

    It is easier to make a coop predator-proof than a run. I think you'll find most people on this site lock their chickens in the coop at night for exactly your reason.

    Do you normally feed and water in the house or outside?

    There are some advantages both ways. If you feed and water outside, you reduce the poop load in the coop some. Means you have less to manage with a shovel. The feed needs to stay dry. If you feed outside, this complicates it a little bit. If you water outside, it doesn't get the litter in the coop wet. Some people find that they attract more rats and mice by feeding outside, but I find it very hard to keep rats and especially mice out of the coop. In middle Tennessee you will have freezing weather. Water stays melted better inside. I'm sure I am missing many advanteges both ways. It will be your choice.

    What kind of ventillation is needed in the house? We live in central Tennessee.

    Check out this link. In middle Tennessee, you really don't need to insulate. But you need to stop drafts and ventilate.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    How many windows are normally put in a coop?

    I don't have a good answer for you. You need enough light so you can see when you are in there working or gathering eggs during the day. The chickens need some light to see their way to the roosts and the nesting boxes, also to eat and drink if you do this in the coop. I'd think one standard window would be plenty. It's all I have in an 8 x 12 coop.

    This thread is a good resource for thoughts on coops. Not everything in it applies to everyone, but it does give good ideas.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=140561
     
  4. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What's the best kind of fencing to use? Best kind? Probably hardware cloth but it can get quite pricey for a pen.

    Does it need to be completely enclosed (covered)? A covered pen is a great asset for keeping chickens. My coop has a porch roof.

    I was thinking of locking the chickens in the house at night for protection from predators, does anyone do this? Probably most of us do this. There are many, many sad stories of people new to keeping chickens that have only had their birds a few months and have lost all of them to predators.

    Do you normally feed and water in the house or outside? Some of the reason for keeping feed and water in the coop is to protect it from wild birds and from freezing temperatures. My fencing is tight enuf to keep sparrows out so I only have the feed & water indoors during the winter months.

    What kind of ventillation is needed in the house? Lots, I open what is essentially 10% of the wall area on clear, warmer days and remove it entirely during the summer months. It serves as 1 of 2 insulated doors during cold days & nights and is replaced by a screened window most days and thru the summer.

    How many windows are normally put in a coop? Well, mine has only that one. The coop has an electric light. Protection from the cold is probably more important in my location than where you are.

    Steve

    Welcome to BYC [​IMG] !
     
  5. mmtillman

    mmtillman Chillin' With My Peeps

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Here is an idea for a coop...an 8x8 ...since you will most likely wind up with more chicks then you intended...might as well build big to start with!! [​IMG]
     
  6. mmtillman

    mmtillman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:[​IMG]
     
  7. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Fencing: Lots of people use welded wire with some hardware cloth along the bottom 18" or so to keep predators from going through the holes. You could also look into electric fencing.
     
  8. pkeeler

    pkeeler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The more ventilation the better. Openings along the eaves along with 1 sf of window for every 10 sf of floor space would be a minimum. The warmer your climate the more windows. Sunlight is very good for a chicken coop.
     
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:You will find it cheaper to build either 4x8 or 8x8... 5x8 will just be *annoying* (and a bit wasteful), as plywood comes in 4' widths.

    We haven't decided on a size for the fenced area yet, but I have read we need to bury 1' of fence around the perimeter. What's the best kind of fencing to use? Does it need to be completely enclosed (covered)?

    I would personally, if you're going to bury fence to prevent digging, go deeper than 1'.... pretty much anything that can dig under a fence can dig deeper than that. Another option is to put an 'apron' of 2x4 welded wire mesh flat on the ground around the outside edge of the run fence, either weighed down well with big rocks or pavers or peel the turf up and put it just underneath.

    As far as the run fence itself, chainlink (if you've got some around and are comfortable working with it) or heavy gauge 2x4" welded wire mesh are good. Both will need reinforcement on the bottom 2-3' by putting another layer of something with smaller holes -- I like 1/2" chickenwire (1" chickenwire is not so good for this, although does help some) -- to prevent problems with reach-through predation.

    Strongly recommend against using chickenwire as the fence per se, though. Most chickenwire available today is lightweight and can be bitten/ripped open by dogs, coyotes, raccoons. Don't use it for the run fence, nor to predatorproof coop vents or windows (recommend 1/2" hardwarecloth for the latter application).

    I was thinking of locking the chickens in the house at night for protection from predators, does anyone do this?

    Yes, and it is an EXCELLENT plan.

    Do you normally feed and water in the house or outside?

    Depends how reliably you'll let them out at dawn. If unfailingly out at dawn, feed and water can be outside; if not, at least water might ought to be indoors. If feed is outdoors and wild birds can access your run, be aware you may end up spending a lot of money feeding the local sparrows.

    Good luck, have fun, welcome to BYC,

    Pat​
     
  10. sandy_llg

    sandy_llg New Egg

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    Just wanted to thank you for all the wonderful information. I have some more clarification now.
     

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