New coop build

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by lazy gardener, Oct 5, 2014.

  1. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    We're progressing slowly on a new coop. It is 10 x 12, and I have a few questions. Please tell me what has worked well for you in these areas, what you like, and what you'd change:

    The coop sits on 4 x 4 p.t. posts which fit into cement blocks. The ground is uneven, with a variation from 8" to 20" between the bottom of the framing to the ground. I'm thinking that the thing to do is put 1/2" hardware cloth skirt around the whole coop, which will be yet an other added expense. And even then, I'm not the least bit hopeful that the skirt will keep mice or rats out of that space, and may in fact make the space more of a safe haven for them. On the other hand, I don't want chickens to have access to that much space that I couldn't access. So, looking for advice here: hardware cloth? Lattice? Chicken wire skirt?

    The perches will be placed along the west wall, with a 2' h x 4' w clean out door centered on that wall. They will be 2 x 4's, upper edges rounded off a bit, placed on the flat to protect toes from frost bite. I plan to have them be removable. How far should the first perch be from the wall, and how much space between the 2 perches should I allow. I'm on the fence regarding having the perches both be the same height vs. having the back perch be higher than the front perch.

    There is a storage closet 4' x 2' which will be accessed from outside (N wall). This will hold feed, and if there's room, there will be a shelf for a few chicken related supplies. This closet will not go all the way to the top of the coop, b/c I will use the space above it, inside the coop for a broody/rooster jail. The storage area under the cage will be accessed from the inside through a set of cupboard doors.

    Nest boxes: 6 total, 3 boxes wide x 2 boxes high. Using white plastic dish pans, with removeable 1/4" plywood for privacy between boxes. Outside access. Do you favor doors hinging up or down? Any favorite ideas for latching mechanisms (predator proof). Weather proofing for the hinges?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    The coop sits on 4 x 4 p.t. posts which fit into cement blocks. The ground is uneven, with a variation from 8" to 20" between the bottom of the framing to the ground. I'm thinking that the thing to do is put 1/2" hardware cloth skirt around the whole coop, which will be yet an other added expense. And even then, I'm not the least bit hopeful that the skirt will keep mice or rats out of that space, and may in fact make the space more of a safe haven for them. On the other hand, I don't want chickens to have access to that much space that I couldn't access. So, looking for advice here: hardware cloth? Lattice? Chicken wire skirt?

    I assume the floor is already built? I think the way I’d have handled this would be to have a dirt floor, use maybe cinder blocks or treated wood for the lower parts of walls that will touch the dirt and level the floor inside. 8” to 20 inches is a big slope to level though. Maybe even terrace it inside with a retaining wall and a step down. And use berms or swales on the upslope side to keep water out. I’m not sure that would have been a lot more expensive than building the floor, though the floor certainly levels it. There are trade-offs in everything.

    Yeah, rats, mice, and probably snakes are going to be under there, the snakes hunting rats and mice. I don’t see much of a way around that unless you really raise it off the ground so you have access. I don’t think I’d even try to keep them out. What I’d be more concerned about would be something denning under there like a skunk. Groundhogs would love that but they are not a direct threat to your chickens. The danger with groundhogs is that their tunnels become a path for something else to get in if you have a closed run. To keep bigger things like this out I don’t think you need to go to the expense of hardware cloth. Lattice should be good enough, probably plastic lattice so it doesn’t rot.

    The perches will be placed along the west wall, with a 2' h x 4' w clean out door centered on that wall. They will be 2 x 4's, upper edges rounded off a bit, placed on the flat to protect toes from frost bite. I plan to have them be removable. How far should the first perch be from the wall, and how much space between the 2 perches should I allow. I'm on the fence regarding having the perches both be the same height vs. having the back perch be higher than the front perch.


    I suggest 12” minimum clearance from the wall with 12” minimum clearance between roosts, not center-to-center but out-to-out. That should give them enough room to not poop on each other. If you want to go a few inches wider between the roosts that would not break my heart but 12” will work.

    Different people will have different opinions in whether to keep them the same elevation or not. Both work so don’t overthink it. They will all want to roost on the highest but they’ll sort things out by pecking order whatever you do. I integrate younger chickens a lot. My main roosts are tree limbs with enough length to handle all the chickens but I put up a separate roost about a foot lower but still higher than the nests and separated horizontally (against a side wall) to give the younger ones a safe place to go that was not my nests. Don’t go short on roost space. It cuts down on bickering and makes managing them easier.

    There is a storage closet 4' x 2' which will be accessed from outside (N wall). This will hold feed, and if there's room, there will be a shelf for a few chicken related supplies. This closet will not go all the way to the top of the coop, b/c I will use the space above it, inside the coop for a broody/rooster jail. The storage area under the cage will be accessed from the inside through a set of cupboard doors.

    I prefer a broody buster with a wire floor so air can come up under her and cool her. One of the problems with that though is that an adult chicken’s poop needs some pretty big holes to fall through. I’d use wire with at least 1” holes and even that may need to be cleaned. Put a 2x4 or something solid so they can get off the wire if they want to. Wire is OK for them to stand on but not all wire is made equal. Some has nicks or points that can damage the feet. Just a place to get off the wire for a while makes a big difference.

    I don’t know how high that chicken jail will be. Make sure you can access it with a chicken in your hands that doesn’t want to be there and so you can water, feed, clean it out without getting hurt.


    Nest boxes: 6 total, 3 boxes wide x 2 boxes high. Using white plastic dish pans, with removeable 1/4" plywood for privacy between boxes. Outside access. Do you favor doors hinging up or down? Any favorite ideas for latching mechanisms (predator proof). Weather proofing for the hinges?

    I think your nests are going to be internal with the doors flat in the walls. Good! I think that is better since you have the room inside.

    There are so many different ways to do this. I prefer to be able to see inside before I open it too wide. There may be a chicken, snake, or something else in there where I don’t want to open it too wide to start with. Unless the nest are above eye height, that means do not use hinges at the top. Hinges at the top means you need to use one hand to hold the door open. There may be times you might want to have use of both hands. Hinges to the side or bottom would work better, but with them 3 nests wide side hinges may be a bit tricky.

    How to waterproof it? My first step would be to put something, maybe a 2x4 across the top to divert water from flowing down the wall to that area. Slope it to the side so water will run off and caulk the top.

    I don’t know what your walls look like, but I’d frame around that opening with maybe 2x4’s or at least 1x3’s top, bottom, and sides to give something solid to attach to. Caulk these too to stop water from getting behind them. You don’t want these weak where a predator can just rip them off. Recess the door inside this frame. That should make it water proof with side or bottom hinges and make it harder for a predator to get a grip to rip them off.

    Don’t go cheap on the hardware. Hinges need to be strong. Hasps need to be strong also plus the openings on the hasps need to be big enough so your closure can easily go in. I made that mistake and had to rework it. So match your hasps and closures before you buy them. Hardware can get expensive.

    I use carabineers or snap locks to secure my openings. Are these 100% safe? No but they have worked so far. The only really safe thing is a padlock and I’m not going to that extreme. They are too inconvenient for me but some people use them.

    As an aside, I put outside access to my first nests but never use them. I find it’s easier to just walk in the coop to gather eggs. I like to go inside anyway to look around. I’ve found a dead hen, several snakes, and even a young possum once that I would not have seen if I had not gone inside. Many people like their outside access. On those little coops where you can’t walk inside they are probably required. It’s personal preference but you can save yourself money on hardware and construction time by committing to just walking inside.

    Good luck with it. Each coop is a challenge. Sound like yours is going to be a nice one.
     
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    Thanks so much for your reply, RidgeRunner. I had considered putting it on a dirt floor, and would have preferred it. But, hubby was designing this one at my request. He will use a 2 x 6 if a 2 x 3 would suffice. Over build... yeah! With our uneven terrain, and heavy clay soil mixed with lots of rocks, the build would have been more expensive than conventional construction with posts.

    Good idea on the broody buster. I hadn't considered that I would need to exercise this option. I can always suspend a dog crate beside the existing "jail". May need to have a step up to adequately service the "jail". Again, you bring up good points.

    I agree with you about having nest boxes very visible before reaching into them. In my area, snakes are not an issue... or at least they never have been. But, I am loathe to reach into a dark nest box and grab a mouse, or a big old hairy spider... or even the hornet who decides that would be a nice place to build a nest. I have yet had a chicken try to escape through an open box, but perhaps with 2 x 3, that is a possibility. Good idea about having an awning of sorts above the boxes, and having the doors recessed.

    I'll be using plenty of caulking. I'm a fan of carabeeners also. Can never have too many of those. I'm designing this coop so I'll have to enter it very infrequently, though I am in the habit of doing a daily inspection of the space. I have asthma, so will only go in when it is imperative... If I end up feeding inside during the nasty winter months, I'll build a gate across the people door so I can tend to feed and water without the girls escaping (too much!!!)
     

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