New coop setup

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by EasterEggDrew, Sep 4, 2016.

  1. EasterEggDrew

    EasterEggDrew Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Setting up our first coop and run, and reading as much as we can on this forum to get close to right on our first try. Here's our stat's:

    Location: Eastern PA
    Population: 4 hens, all winter-hardy breeds
    Coop: 4' x 4' x 7' high = 4 sq.ft. per hen
    Run: 6' x 8' x 7' high = 12 sq.ft. per hen

    Q1: Roost & poop board heights? I see some with poop boards on the floor, others elevated.

    Q2: Feeder and water in coop only, or separate in coop and run?

    Q3: Pref. on waterers for winter use? I'm attracted to a lot of the automatic / nipple waterers, but don't see them as practical for our climate, unless there are heated versions. We're generally below freezing Dec. - Mar., with occasional nights below freezing as early as October and as late as June.

    We have no permanent electric to coop (yet), and location isn't fantastic for solar (shady sheltered location), so non-electric solutions are preferred. I can run extension cords, but would prefer to reserve that for the few exceptionally cold weeks (eg. < 10F), and not have them across the lawn for half the year.

    Thanks!
     
  2. seanengler

    seanengler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Q1: Roost heights, I have them all within 12-16 inches of each other for easy jumps to and from. Poop boards, don't use so I can't comment.

    Q2: I've read differing opinions on food and water in the coop. I never have had food or water in the coop and they do just fine. I have multiple waterers throughout the property that they use, and one feeder located at the coop. Our hens only go in the coop mobile to lay eggs and sleep. Rarely do I see them inside just for the heck of it, so I don't have food or water in there. I would think that food in the coop would only lead to more poop clean up. In the 7 years I've kept hens, I've never had food or water in the coop and they all seem to be just fine [​IMG].

    Q3: Good question! This will be our first winter using nipple waterers, and the thought hadn't even occurred to me yet about the freezing temps. I will have to get back to you after brainstorming bit on this one because none of our waterers are near any power sources.

    As far as the extension cords go, as a firefighter, pleeeeease don't use an extension cord as a permanent solution for anything. They're not designed or rated to handle the power running through them for long periods of time/permanent use. I have lost count of how many home/office/garage fires I've been on caused by extension cords being used as permanent wiring. You'd be surprised how little light solar panels can function in. Look into a solar panel/solar controller/battery combination. They can be set up for roughly $100 and are super handy.

    Edit: The extension cord part was more of a PSA for everyone, not directed at you in a scolding way or anything :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
  3. Dmontgomery

    Dmontgomery Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    These are my opinions/suggestions. I am not one of the experts on BYC.
    Q1: roosts should be as high as possible off the ground while still allowing a 12" space or better above your chickens head. So it depends on what size chickens you have, but no lower than 5'. If you put the poop boards on the ground, you are losing square footage and will no longer have 4sqft per bird.
    Q2. Same problem... Anything on the ground or close to ground level in your coop area reduces the space they will have inside to move around if they can't get out to the run. I've only used really small chick feeders or chick waterers in the coop area, and only when I had small chicks less than a week old in there with their mother.
    Q3. Sorry, it doesn't freeze here, so I can't help.
     
  4. EasterEggDrew

    EasterEggDrew Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, guys! Keep 'em coming. I agree, extension cords are only a temporary means, and must be inspected regularly. Electrical engineer, from a long line of firefighters, so in total agreement on that.

    I like the idea of keeping all food and water in the run, to minimize mess in the coop. Had not even considered that as an option, but now I will! Of course, that gives greater concern to the freezing problem. We do get big snows on occasion, with 24" - 36" in a single storm not totally uncommon, but run will have a roof, and I hope chicken wire will control drifts into the run. If not, there's always snow fence.

    Totally open to solar, if it can offer a solution for the water freezing issue, so feel free to make any suggestions on products or required reading material.

    Roosts at 5 feet from floor?!? I guess you provide a ladder to get up there? Pics, please!




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  5. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    Just resign yourself to getting it MOSTLY right the first try..... [​IMG] there are always tweaks and adjustments...

    1. Roost height... depends on what breeds you have. I set mine at four feet off the ground. I also make my roosts adjustable so if a height isnt working its a simple process to accomodate. I never used a poop board but when I rebuild I will use Poop Hammocks. My environment is very dry. just below the roosts

    2. feed and water both in coop and in run

    3. Waterers. I use feed tubs and put stock tank float valves in them. The black plastic tubs hold about two gallons of water and when they freeze they are easy to knock the ice out of. My climate is HOT in the summer so they are my preference to help them keep cool. My only change I make to them is when I have chicks in the coop. I use chicken wire to form a chick protector. folding the wire down so every one can get a drink but if a chick happens to land in the tub they would be walking on water about an inch deep.

    Cant help on a way to keep the water from freezing....

    deb
     
  6. EasterEggDrew

    EasterEggDrew Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Please post a link to some info or a system that would power a heated water dish (i.e. 100 watts) for $100 in eastern PA. I just did a little searching on this, and seem to be hitting on things that are way more expensive.

    Thanks!
     
  7. seanengler

    seanengler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah you're right, 100watts is gonna be a little more expensive, I was thinking more along the lines of simple systems when I was trying to power some small fans and so forth. I'm gonna do some research because I'm gonna be dealing with freezing water here soon enough.
     
  8. seanengler

    seanengler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm looking at all the heated buckets and de icers right now and they're all 1000+ watts. I didn't realize they drew so much power, but all the more reason to not use an extension cord as far as safety goes. So now the question is cost wise is it cheaper to have power run over there or cheaper to do a solar system that would handle that much draw. Worst case scenario, like you said for the few weeks when it is super cold, is to run the extension cords, but on a timer or something so you could narrow it down to the coldest times and avoid it being on all the time.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Nah, that's not gonna work in a 4x4 coop......no room to land after jumping/flying off a very high roost.

    @EasterEggDrew your 4x4 floor plan limits a lot...it may be too small for 4 birds in a cold climate...the 4/10 'rule' is bare minimum, go bigger if at all possible.

    Here's my theory on the 'stack up' aspect to coop design:
    Bottom of pop door is best about 8" above floor so bedding doesn't get dragged out of coop.
    Nice to have bottom of nests about 18" above bedding to allow use of that floor space under them(doesn't count if your nests are mounted on outside of coop).
    Roosts are best about 12" higher than nests so birds won't roost(sleep) in nests and poop in them, if you use poop boards under roosts it will also 'stretch' your floor space.
    Upper venting works best as high as possible above roosts so no strong drafts hit roosts in winter...and hot/moist air and ammonia can rise and exit coop.

    I like feed and water in coop and this has worked great for the last 2 winters https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/aarts-heated-waterer-with-horizontal-nipples
     
  10. EasterEggDrew

    EasterEggDrew Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good info @aart. Unfortunately, too late! I did debate going with a 6 x 4 foot coop, but I was seeing a lot of info that pointed to not exceeding 4 sq.ft. per bird, in climates with cold weather. So, 4 x 4 foot coop is purchased, assembled, and painted now. It's an ACC-44, which has the nesting boxes probably about 24" from the floor (I'll have to go measure tomorrow). The reason I went with a purchased unit, rather than building my own, is that I figured stuff like nesting box height was already figured out. Being new to this, and not knowing what's needed for a good coop design, I figured that was the way to end up with something more functional the first time around.

    I did notice the door is only 1.5" above floor, which I did not like. I figured I'd just add a plywood lip to inside to keep bedding from getting tracked out and interfering with door closing.

    I can install the roost bar at any height, or even have more than one. They show it going at same height as nesting boxes, but I could easily move it up. I'd just have to provide a means for them to get up/down, due to the shorter floor space. What do you think?
     

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