Never seen a coop like the one I want, so asking for your thoughts for this chicken newbie

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by luvmychis, Sep 23, 2015.

  1. luvmychis

    luvmychis Out Of The Brooder

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    After having my chickens for about 6 months now, I'm finally having a coop built. Since I've never seen one like the one I envision, let me describe it you and see what y'all think. I know one thing right off the bat, and that is that I'm not completely closing it in. We do not have predators here so I didn't add a front wall with door. I've left it open, basically like a fancy lean to.

    The overall dimensions will be 5 1/2' tall x 5' wide x 4 1/2' deep. As I said, it's basically a lean to design, so envision that, with a solid roof that slants from 5 1/2' in the front to 5' in the back. The side walls are built as 2 1/2' solid wall and 2' of hardware cloth. All of this over a floor made of 1"x6"s. The roof and solid sides are housing roofing tin, green on the outside and white on the inside. This way, the chickens have protection from the elements and can get off the ground during rainy season. It's big enough that I can go in to collect the eggs and also clean. There will be our nesting boxes across the back wall, which is solid. Under the boxes, on either side, will be storage containers for supplies. A roosting latter for those that want to roost instead of sleeping in the nesting boxes. In addition to their hydrator outside in the chicken lot, I will put a water station inside. We've already built 4'x3" PVC pipe feeders and they are getting used to them now. I'll probably have those cut down to 3' to make it easier for me to fill with feed. My 6'3" husband forgets I'm shorter and weaker than he is. LOL

    I didn't have a hardware cloth wall and door put in because I don't lock my chickens in. They go to roost at will and get up when they want to. Even with their current coop, I leave the door open. Sometimes I'm later getting up in the mornings and I couldn't stand the thought of them being contained in a 30"x71" area until I could get out there. That's like barely wide enough for 2 chickens to stand side by side. We live in NE FL, so from my understanding, they don't need an enclosed or insulated winter area. If necessary, I could put up a flannel blanket. Am I missing anything?

    I will certainly post pics when it's built, but before that happens, I'm open to experienced peoples giving thoughts on the pros and cons of this concept. Please, please give your suggestions, concerns, what's right, what's wrong. I will take it all into consideration. I want this coop to last a very long time. That's why I'm shooting for quality materials and an easy maintenance, functional design that is good for me and the chickens.

    Thanks,
    Lisa
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2015
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    I like the idea of the excellent ventilation.
    That said, form follows function. The dimensions are usually based on the number, size and breed of chickens.
    Allowing them to sleep in the nest boxes is a bad idea. You will constantly have feces coated eggs.
    Place the roost and nests in such a way that they don't have to walk under the roost to get to the nest or else they'll track feces into the nests.
    They don't need to be in a warm place. I'm in MO where it gets below -10 and my buildings are wide open. However the openings are covered with hardware cloth.

    What makes you think there are no predators in NE FL?
    What about hawks, owls, raccoons, opossums, weasels, dogs, foxes, cougars, bobcats, etc.? Most of those things live all over Florida.
    When you said you had no predators, I envisioned you lived on a small island in the South Pacific.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2015
  3. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    Just because you don't see predators doesn't mean they are not there, they almost certainly are...

    I always post this bit of trivia when people say they have no predators... I ask them if they have ever seen a rabbit in their area, ever? They always answer yes...

    Read this article... http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/scary.html

    The short of it, a SINGLE pregnant female rabbit can theoretically turn into 184,597,433,860 rabbits in a seven year period... That is nearly 185 billion offspring in a few years time!!! The only thing that stops that from happening is the predators in your area and possibly the food supply... I suspect in most areas there is still ground vegetation and grass, so it's not likely a lack of food keeping the population at bay but rather the predators you never see...

    And this is just one animal example, you can toss in other rodents like mice and rats into the mess of rapid reproducers, and before you know it you have the start of a horror movie...
     
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    Actually, I'm shocked they lived 6 months without predator proof housing at night.

    I'm in the suburbs of a big city. If I don't get home to lock up by dusk, I'm shocked if I have any birds left.

    Occasionally I set up a trail cam. A few days ago it caught 3 raccoons and 2 opossums. Coyotes and foxes walk through my yard in the middle of the day. Mink destroyed 6 of my flocks in 6 days last summer with no opening larger than an inch. The only thing I don't worry about are hawks because I have at least 1 good rooster with each flock.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2015
  5. marktoo

    marktoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    I quit closing the door on my predator proof tractor 1 1/2 years ago, have not had a problem yet. I'm butted up against farmland, my fence & wall would not serve to keep out possums or coons & I have seen a pair of fox scale the wall like a cat some 20 years ago. The hawks, of which there are many have not bothered
    my hens but they do have a netted run that they go into when they feel threatened. As I said I am able to lock up my tractor should it be necessary to do so. I think you would be far better off having the ability to close the coop & leave it open than not be able to close it at all, should you lose a bird.
     
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  6. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps


    Trail cams are generally real eye openers, and even then trail cams will generally not trigger for small predators like weasels, and you are only focused on a small area so you could be missing a lot... Also pet predators like a dog that all the sudden gets loose can be overlooked...

    I'm of the opinion that personal historical experience is not always a good indicator of the future... Just because it hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it won't happen...
     
  7. luvmychis

    luvmychis Out Of The Brooder

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    Yes, chickies, (I never know how to address a group of us, as I'm sure it's not just ladies. Since we're talking chickens, I went with chickies. It sounded better than biddies. LOL However, if it offends anyone, please tell me so I don't repeat, as that's not my intention.) I know we HAVE predators in Fl. I should have worded that differently. We have never had a problem with predators. I got a great kick out of your responses, though, so the smile was worth the embarrassment. [​IMG]

    This is the set up they currently have, except the coop has been turned in another direction.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    When we first started setting up, my husband, who's from TN and had chickens growing up, was trying to make so many modifications against predators that you would've thought it was Ft. Knox. The screen on the outer sides has to go on the inside of the fence so things don't climb in. I was worried about the chicken climbing out. Things were added around the sides to discourage things from digging in. Things were hung in trees, put in the ground, around the ground, along the fence, etc. Birds are around but because of the trees, they can't dive and swoop to pick up the chickens. I was a breeder/exhibitor of Chihuahuas for over 20 year. I'm used to worried about birds, because puppies, and even adult Chis, look like rabbits from the area. So that was a huge consideration for me as far as can one swoop in to get a "meal." We've evaluated for that and in the lot, they are safe. In the yard, that's another matter. I'm pretty much around when they are loose in the yard, so I'm conscious of the birds. So far, we've never had anything attempt to get in. Now it could be that our Great Danes deter ground predators from thinking about coming in the yard. As for the birds of prey, I think they get plenty of food from the flocks of wild birds and squirrels that swarm my yard for the "all you can eat buffets" that I keep out. It bothered me to tears when I first found the clumps of feathers. Now I know it's just part of the life cycle, and while it saddens me, I'm not going to stop filling up my bird and squirrel feeders.

    Since we've had no problem, my thoughts to leave it off was that it would make the maintenance easier. Sweeping and cleaning the floor, lugging in bags of feed and nesting materials, etc. doesn't get held up by manurvering around doors and frames, caught on the wire, etc. I'll ask what the additional costs would be to add the front wall. I figured we could always add it later, if need be, but since y'all say the "needs be" I'll see if we can add it now. :)

    Lisa
     
  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    "If you build it, they will come."
    I've caught mice on my trail cam.
    I could only afford one but to cover my place I'd need at least 6. I'll buy more as money allows.

    "I'm of the opinion that personal historical experience is not always a good indicator of the future..."
    My family has raised chickens here since the mid 1800s and never had a problem with mink. Last summer, mink killed $4,000 worth of my chickens.
     
  9. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    It doesn't have to be a wall. They need ventilation. My first point was that I love an open sided coop. It just needs wire and hardware cloth to keep them safe.
     
  10. luvmychis

    luvmychis Out Of The Brooder

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    I could handled a small island in the South Pacific some day, but no, that's no where we live now. I got a chuckle out of that one. I know, I know. I misspoke. I should have said we don't have a problem with predators.

    As to letting them sleep in their boxes. First, the current coop has 2 boxes and 2 chickens. The new coop will have 4 boxes and I will never have more than 4 chickens at a time. I've never had any was of controlling where they sleep (box or bar) and not sure how I could. They sleep where they want to, and apparently, my chickens didn't read the book that they are supposed to roost. They have roosting bars in their coop and I even made roosting bars for them outside after seeing some internet pics and coop ideas that had them in the runs. I made some out of lumber and others were from natural tree branches. Nope, didn't touch them. I've even taken them out of the boxes and put them on the bars. Next morning, they were in the boxes. It could be the POS PPC prefab they are in, but who knows? Since the day I got them, they have preferred to sleep in the nests. They actually have to go over the bars to get to the nests, not under. There's no way to block off the boxes, in their current coop or the new one, so I'm not sure what else I can do? I've been very fortunate, I think, that I don't get messy eggs. When they lay down, they face in towards the coop. When I gather eggs, I always find a nice clean circle of bedding with an egg or two in the middle, and all the poo is on the outside of that circle. In 6 months, I've only had about 2-3 eggs I've had to wash off. Usually, they can go straight in the carton. All that doesn't mean it will stay that way. Most important to me is...is there any danger from them sleeping in the boxes instead of roosting? Next question would be...how could I change this behavior?

    Thanks,
    Lisa
     

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