New chickener here: advice on coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by glib, Dec 8, 2007.

  1. glib

    glib Songster

    Dec 8, 2007

    I will soon build a fence and coop. I mostly know what to do, having read several posts here, and also having gotten advice from neighbors with chickens. The run will be fortified on five sides, to stop hawks from flying in, with underground chainlink fence on the perimeter to stop the raccoons. I will move some large vines so they can shade the run in summer.

    For the coop I plan to use the deep litter method. I think I will put a tarp at the bottom, and a removable 2X10 board at the bottom so I can pull out the litter quickly every 2 months or so (remove board, grab tarp, pull). I have an idea of light requirements, and where to put roosts and nests. I plan to use my unlimited supply of dead leaves as litter, both in the coop and in the run (I am hoping two tons a year will be enough). I have a few questions:

    1) I have some spare insulation in the house (the pink stuff). Should I stick it under the roof? I assume the walls will get pooped on.

    2) Is it worth stapling a plastic layer on the walls, for a quick and easy washdown when removing litter?

    3) to have some winter eggs, do I need both light and heat? There should be 7 chickens, and one or two eggs a day should be enough.
  2. horsewishr

    horsewishr Songster

    Jul 7, 2007
    West Michigan
    why would the walls get pooped on? Mine don't.

    I can't imagine washing the walls, myself. But if I was really worried about it, I'd probably just paint them with white enamel paint, so I could scrub them if I wanted to. I think I'd be more bothered by the staple holes and the look of plastic than by a bit of poop I could scrape/wipe off.
  3. glib

    glib Songster

    Dec 8, 2007
    Thanks for the reply. The next questions regard chicken habits, for the purpose of trying to understand how to build the coop.

    a) where do they sleep? From what I gather here, they sleep on a high pole (roost), if given one, but in the winter they like to be on the floor, and if deep litter is present, they like to make a cozy nest in the litter. Am I right? I have a half baked idea about using some glass panes that have been in my garage forever, stuck to the wall half way, so that any climbing predator has to climb through 4 ft of smooth glass to get to the roost. But that will work only if the chickens are up on the roost.

    b) where do brooders and chicks sleep? Do they go back to a nest at night? I am wondering if I should build a contraption to place hardware cloth in front of the nest at night, to hold rats off.
  4. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    They will roost no matter what the weather if that is what they normally do. If you have standard size chickens, you don't want the roost up high because jumping down will cause foot and leg problems. You can have a ladder roost like the one pictured in my coop below and that works veyr well. And if the roost is anywhere near the wall, the wall will have some poop on it from time to time. Dont put any insulation in unless you cover it with plywood or masonite because they will eat the insulation.
    By brooders, do you mean broody hens? It's best to separate those out of the flock so the chicks won't get hurt when they hatch.
  5. peepkeeper

    peepkeeper Songster

    Jul 5, 2007
    upstate New York
    Chickens like to jump up on something to sleep, a roost about 2 feet or so off the ground will do. I cut a ladder in half and nailed it to the coop wall for mine. The plastic and insulation you mentioned might cause condensation, which would make them sick. Make sure you allow for ventilation, space up near the top of the coop for air to circulate without blowing directly on the chickens will keep them healthy, better to be chilly with ventilation than warm without it as long as they can get out of weather and drafts. For setting hens keep them away from the flock, the baby chicks will get pecked by the others, and make sure that the nest is on the ground so that a chick won't fall out and get killed. Sounds like you have a good setup, they should be very happy! Congrats!
  6. glib

    glib Songster

    Dec 8, 2007
    Thanks again. I think I am going to splurge for the automatic door opener, which should make things secure, and build a ladder as in the picture provided. Security, I suppose, will be a well built coop and the fact that doors will be closed securely (and automatically) at night.

    I am also building back doors in the nest boxes, so setting hens and their brood can come out from the back door into an attachable, hardware cloth, rat-proof, second mini-run. I will use the detachable mini-run also to contain the original chicks in the garage as they grow up (yes, with some feet friendly floor and plenty of litter). I can put a hardware cloth screen in front of the nest box inside the coop so chicks and flock are separated until free-ranging socialization can take place.

    Boy, this coop will set me back some in sweat and dollars. I am even manuring the lawn as soon as it unfreezes so the grown chicken will have well established thick grass this summer.
  7. SisterFlash

    SisterFlash Songster

    Quote:I just love your roost. Can you tell me how wide and long and hwo much distance between the roost rails.

    They all look to be 2x4 except a few which look rounded. Was that on purpose for a reason?

    The rails look about a foot apart but could be further...and maybe 4ft wide?

    How long....6ft ish?

    thanks for all your measurement help. Have looked at your coops on the coop page and they are wonderful. I want to build a divided 8x10 and I would like some roosts jsut like you show.

    Do your heavy girls climb up to the top or not? I was not sure if you were saying your roost configuration helps them or they still do not go to the top.

    Thanks plan to start building in march so just trying to get the plans all set.

    Barb [​IMG]
  8. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Thanks! The first ones that are very rounded were that way and were part of an extremely heavy pallet I dismantled. I had to pull some nails and do alot of sanding, but they are pretty much extremely rounded 2x4s. I think the distance between the steps is just over 12", if I remember correctly. Each rail is 4' long. The coop is 8' front to back and the ladder comes down to within a foot of the front wall, so it's maybe 7 ft long. That is an 8 ft 2x4 on the side rail, but the ladder comes out 7 ft into the room, if you understand what I mean.
    All my girls go to the top few rails, the coveted spots. All 17 birds in that coop cram themselves on the top three rungs up where the ceiling is the lowest and back into the alcove that the ladder is snuggled back into. They use the ladder to come down in steps, so they rarely jump from any high points.
    Hope this helps some. This roost works very well.
  9. SisterFlash

    SisterFlash Songster

    perfect answer

    thanks so much for the details

    Barb [​IMG]
  10. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

    Jun 10, 2007
    Douglasville GA
    As far as heating the coop:
    That depends on the climate you live in.

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