Needing to expand

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by klucretia, May 17, 2011.

  1. klucretia

    klucretia New Egg

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    Jul 21, 2010
    Warwick, RI
    Hi all, Things are going great, maybe a little too great! I got my new order of chicks, and almost immediately, I ended up with some rescued "Easter" chicks from someone who had gotten them for their kids. (makes me crazy when people do things and don't think, but I just did and now I need help...LOL) Anyway, I have 6 older hens which will be dinner sometime this summer. The new flock I ordered was 8 and the Easter rescue gang is 4, so that's 12 total. My coop is about 5'x5', maybe a little larger but not 6'x6'. I have hanging water/feed, and can figure a set up for enough roost length if I put them diagonal. It's a little odd, because the door is actually one whole side wall that opens out so I can get right in there and clean it or do what I have to do and not kill myself. They have their own enterance on one side.
    My question is, would it work to put the egg boxes in another building/coop type structure next to the regular coop? They do have enough run for about 30 birds so they do have room, the run is covered because I've lost some to hawks here, very bad. I have a second moveable run that I attach in teh summer time to give them even more room. The actual sleeping coop is probably about minimum with the feed and water in there, but I would rather not have to double the size of my coop to be able to fit the boxes in there too. I currently have 2 which were plenty for those old gals, but I need to have at least 4-5 with new younger gals going to be starting to lay.
    I dont want to go through building a whole seperate structure and find out they won't go in there. Also, I do have the coop insulated but very ventilated, heated water, and hang a heat lamp when below 0... If it's alright to have a seperate area for the egg boxes, should it be insulated since they are pretty much alone in each cube and not moving around, should it be insulated so they are warm enough while trying to lay? My chickens kept up their production to about 75% all winter, so I"d like to keep them happy and laying in the winter if they will.
    Thanks for any input! I love this site!! [​IMG]
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    The summertime is not going to be your problem. The risk is in the winter when they cannot get out. If you can keep the snow out of the run, or at least a significant part of the run, and block the wind, which will also keep snow from blowing in, you might be OK. You are taking a risk. Mine don't seem to mind the cold but they do not like wind, especially when it is cold. Most of mine don't like snow either, although a few waded through 9" of snow this past winter to check out the compost pile. They do like those kitchen wastes. I'd be uncomfortable doing it but you might be OK.

    With 12 hens, all you need is three nest boxes. If you keep the six until the others are laying, you should be OK with 4 nest boxes, at least short term. You can build a separate structure for nest boxes. The young ones should use them without a big problem. The older ones may be so used to laying in the current coop that they keep laying in there after you take the nest boxes out. And if the young ones see the old ones laying in there, they may decide to lay there too. You may have a bit of trouble in the transition, but a separate nest box is doable.

    My concern in your climate is that the eggs might freeze. I'd not worry about the hens freezing to death while laying. As long as you build the nests so that the wind is not hitting them, they should be fine. The eggs can freeze in the coop too, of course. If you build the separate nest boxes where you block wind and maybe insulate them, you should be OK, but it will help a lot if you can gather the eggs a few times a day.

    It is not unusual for pullets to lay real well their first winter. They often skip the molt and keep laying. Older hens will usually molt and stop laying until the molt is over, but they will often start back up before spring gets here when they finish the molt.

    Don't be too surprised if some of your rescue chicks turn out to be roosters. Your final number may not be quite as high as you expect.

    My low last winter was only (-)4 Fahrenheit, so I know my climate does not compare with yours. But I do find that many people's concern with cold is a bit exaggerated. As long as they have a place out of the wind, they can handle cold weather pretty well.

    Good luck!
     
  3. klucretia

    klucretia New Egg

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    Jul 21, 2010
    Warwick, RI
    Thank you so much! I"m pretty close to the ocean, so it rarely gets lower than +10 or so here. Sometimes lower, but its' very odd. You're right on the wind though, that is a big thing here and I use the heat lamp figuring on the windchill rather than just the temp. I do get out for eggs at least 2x a day in winter, summer too if it's hot or I'm wandering around out there. I do like to check on them more than once a day too since they aren't able to get out. My initial plan was free range,and that worked until the hawks learned the chicks had moved in.
    We had such a lot of snow last year, I'm trying to plan on that being a normal event with the way the weather has been behaving lately. So, plannign on lots of snow and hoping for the regular amount. While reading your post, I thought about perhaps a short row of boxes added to the coop on an L shape with something like an awning. I"m going to have to think about it, but at least you have given me some good thoughts on things I had not considered. It might just do me well enough to pop out a wall and hang the boxes on the side like some of hte fancy ones have. I could insulate a bit more and see if I can utilize the sun? Thank goodness I have the summer to do this!! [​IMG]
    Thanks again and hope your flock is doing well.
    Take care and God Bless! [​IMG]
     
  4. klucretia

    klucretia New Egg

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    Jul 21, 2010
    Warwick, RI
    I did forget to tell you that in the winter, I put an A frame of plywood from the chicken enterance over to the run (it's about 10 feet away, and in the summer they have a 3' wide tunnel they go through to get to it) So, for the winter, I remove the 'tunnel' and replaced it with the plywood A frame. It gives them a wider area and the snow slides down it pretty well. The pieces are not really tight together, so I can still move them out and get in there if I need to. I do have them fastened a bit so that critters cant' just open it all up and get in there.
    That is one thing I knew I had to fix though. That A frame area isn't large enough for 12 ladies to wander around in the summer, and getting in to shovel the run is nearly impossible in the winter, so... that is already on the drawing board for huge renovations. Boy, these girls are lucky I took the summer off this year!! LOL

    Thanks again and I know I'll be posting again as I go along.
    Happy Memorial Day and God Bless! [​IMG]
     

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