Nest boxes in A-frame design

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by woodlumn, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. woodlumn

    woodlumn Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 3, 2009
    Virginia
    hello!

    after a lot of reading on this site and after considering our needs, I finally got to the point where I needed to just jump in and start building a coop. I chose to use these plans, just as a guide, because we wanted an a-frame tractor.

    I wish I had an email address for that guy so I could ask a few questions about how it's working out for him.

    But my most pressing question is about the placement of the nest boxes. Looks like he's got two on the floor and one above. Will this work? I'd like to use a deep litter approach, and boxes on the floor would be problematic. What if the boxes were only 6" off the floor, would that work too?

    Thanks for your advice! Here's my frame thus far:

    [​IMG]
     
  2. The Chicken People

    The Chicken People Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2009
    Smithville, Mo
    I made a nestbox out of a 5 gallon bucket and it sits on the floor and gets used!
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Pros of floor-level nestboxes: there is more space available at floor level than higher up in an A frame design; and you are less likely to wind up with hens sleeping in the nestboxes.

    Cons of floor-level nestboxes: it reduces already-very-limited-in-an-A-frame-coop floor space

    How many chickens are you intending to put in there? You may well only need one or two nestboxes anyhow (or one oversize one). Personally I'd put them at floor level, tucked along the side(s) where the wall slants down anyhow since hens don't need as much headroom for sitting to lay an egg as they do to walk around.

    I am not sure what you are thinking in terms of "the" deep litter "approach" but it will be difficult and unrewarding to try most versions in an A-frame tractor -- you will not get heat from decomposition, you will get extra air-quality problems in an already hard-to-ventilate space, and the deeper the litter is the less floorspace the hens will have. Just sayin' [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  4. woodlumn

    woodlumn Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 3, 2009
    Virginia
    Thank you for the replies!

    The floor of the frame (the actual floor and not the base is 4' x 8' and there's about 4' height below the peak. I guess usable floor space is closer to 2' x 8' when you account for the sloped roof. I was thinking of starting with 4 hens.

    I realize there will be little actual composting activity due to there being a wood floor, but I read the entire FAQ-linked thread about deep litter as well as an article it linked to at Mother Earth News. I gathered from all of that that you can deep litter on a wood floor, but the litter would still have to age on an actual compost pile before use. I was thinking that a 6" bed of litter would work in there, and I think I can fit two nest boxes on one end at that height.

    I guess I could build a dormer for the boxes, but we still want to build a dormer in the attic of our actual house!

    I chose the A-frame design for light weight and less materials. I hope I haven't made a mistake, because I originally thought I'd be able to fit more chickens in there than just 4 or 5.

    Thanks for the feedback!
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Really 4 hens should be fine with just 1 box, esp. if it is sort of box-and-a-half sized so several can squinch in at the same time if they want. (And sometimes they will!) And btw I applaud you for not trying to shoehorn more chickens than that into that size coop [​IMG]

    If the box will be essentially floor level, I would suggest either making it go all the way down TO the wooden floor, or making it easily removable so it just sits "on" the bedding. If you hard-mount it 6" above the floor it is going to be a giant pain in the patootie to clean under there when you have to change out the bedding, and just ASKING for a mite infestation to settle in happily.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  6. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would not put more than 4 hens in that size coop. With that many hens, you really only need one nest box, so it won't take up much space. As patandchickens says--a true deep litter is not going to work well in that small a coop. In my small coop, I used about 3-4" of shavings, cleaned out the visible poo every other day or so, and changed the litter completely about once a month. Otherwise, as pat said, you are going to get ammonia buildup that is unhealthy for them. You can still compost the litter and use it on your garden just fine. BTW I didn't even have a nestbox in that coop, but I don't reccomend that method.
     
  7. woodlumn

    woodlumn Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 3, 2009
    Virginia
    Sounds good, Pat. By the way, I've read your ventilation article several times! My A-Frame will have an adjustable ridge vent, a large window with screen on either side (3' x 3'), three 4" holes on each end, and an open/close 4" strip on either side of the floor along the length of the coop. Should be enough!

    Thanks again.
     
  8. Keri78

    Keri78 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here's a pic of my tractors! I have 2 they are approx. 4ftX8ft If I had it to do over I would have lifted the nestbox up a few inches off the ground and put chicken wire around the bottom(not b/c it's a problem for the chickens but b/c the box is eventually going to rot sitting on the ground) Also I would have built the roof of the nest box different b/c rain leaks in alot so I always have to tarp them. And if I girl can dream!(Tee-Hee!) I would have Hubby put a roof on the whole dag thing to protect them in the summer from heat and sun and bad weather in the winter...also would keep the hay nicer longer(that's what I use in my run to keep it clean and not muddy. Hay allows for good drainage and keeps their feet off the ground...I guess you could do the same thing with the deep litter method but you would need a roof to protect your shavings. My nestbox is built on the outside of the tractor so it doesn't take any space away from them. Hope this helps!Keri
    Here' the pics:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2010

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