New here - we have a lot of questions about coop and run design.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Oceanbaby, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. Oceanbaby

    Oceanbaby Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 14, 2009
    We are first time chicken owners, and dh decided to build the coop himself, without plans. It's pretty much done, but I have a few questions:

    The floor is just regular wood, but he designed it so that the whole bottom pulls out like a big drawer for cleaning. Should we line this with vinyl tiles or something for easier cleaning?

    There are small screened in parts along 3 sides of the top, only about 1-2" wide. Is this going to be too drafty? We live in a very mild climate - it never snows here.

    Where do we put the food and water - in the coop or in the run, or both?

    His current design for the run is long and narrow - about 3'wide and maybe 10' long. We have 3 chickens now, and would have 5 at max (we are in the suburbs). Is a narrow run okay? They will be let out into the general yard quite often.

    We were going to have the floor of the run just be dirt, but then I don't understand how to keep it from being really smelly. Do I pull the run out every now and then and turn over the dirt? If so, how do we attach the run to the coop but still have it be removable? (I hope this isn't a stupid question, but I can't figure this one out!)

    We weren't originally planning on having wire along the bottom of the run, but digging out a trench won't work because of where it's located. Do we need to have wire along the bottom?

    Oh, and a nesting box question: How high should the "walls" be, and is there supposed to be a top on them?

    We need help!
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2009
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Northwest Arkansas
    Where do we put the food and water - in the coop or in the run, or both?

    If the chickens have access to the outside from the crack of dawn until bedtime, it can be outside. If they are locked in the coop part of the daylight hours, it needs to be inside where they can get to it. They'll be hungry when they wake up and not having food and water can encourage pecking. If it is outside, the food needs to be protected from rain. Once you meet the chickens requirements, make it convenient to you also. You are important.

    His current design for the run is long and narrow - about 3'wide and maybe 10' long. We have 3 chickens now, and would have 5 at max (we are in the suburbs). Is a narrow run okay? They will be let out into the general yard quite often.

    I am not an expert on run width but would expect a 3' wide run to be OK for the chickens. They can get around each other without getting into personal space. The rule of thumb for run space is 10 square feet per bird. This is to give hem room to explore, scratch, get away from each other, play, and to help handle the poop load. I don't know what you mean that they will be in the general yard quite often. If they spend any significant time in the run, I'd be relunctant to put more than 3 chickens in a 30 square foot run. However, if they spend most of their day in the general yard, 5 should be OK.

    We were going to have the floor of the run just be dirt, but then I don't understand how to keep it from being really smelly. Do I pull the run out every now and then and turn over the dirt? If so, how do we attach the run to the coop but still have it be removable? (I hope this isn't a stupid question, but I can't figure this one out!)

    I'm personally fine with dirt. There are some conditions however. If the run is dry, the odds of a lot of smell drops significantly, just like in the coop. The number of birds in there and length of time will determine poop load. That's part of where the 10 square feet per bird comes from. The more poop, the greater the chance of smell. If it is dry, you can get the chickens to turn it for you. They scratch a lot anyway, but throw them some grain in the run and they will really scratch.

    We weren't originally planning on having wire along the bottom of the run, but digging out a trench won't work because of where it's located. Do we need to have wire along the bottom?

    This link has pictures, which help. You do need to make the bottom of the run predator proof.

    http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex916

    Oh, and a nesting box question: How high should the "walls" be, and is there supposed to be a top on them?

    If you put a top, 12" high is high enough. If you do not put a top, 6" should be sufficient to keep the nesting material in. The conventional wisdom is that chickens like to nest in a dark, secure place where they think they are hiding the nest from predators. However, you will find that they are likely to nest anywhere in any condition. You may be able to get them to nest in a nesting box that does not meet the perfect criteria by putting a fake egg in the nest to show them where to lay. Or they may totally ignore a perfect nesting box. Other than to make it feel more secure, one reason to put a top is to discourage them from perching or roosting on the sides and pooping in the nest. You don't want a poopy nest. Eggs get very dirty.
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    The floor is just regular wood, but he designed it so that the whole bottom pulls out like a big drawer for cleaning. Should we line this with vinyl tiles or something for easier cleaning?

    I'd suggest sheet vinyl rather than tiles if you want to go that route (or you could just paint the plywood well); cleaning will be easier if you sprinkle a thin layer of shavings (or whatever else you're using as bedding) on the surface after it's been cleaned. That way poo won't glue itself onto the surface [​IMG]

    There are small screened in parts along 3 sides of the top, only about 1-2" wide. Is this going to be too drafty? We live in a very mild climate - it never snows here.

    DEFINITELY NOT too drafty -- I would be a lot more concerned that it's not enough ventilation (what size is coop, how many chickens, what other ventilation does it have?). Whatever ventilation openings you have, it's good to have a mechanism for closing them down if circumstances warrant -- even if just to keep strongly windblown rain out on the upwind side.

    His current design for the run is long and narrow - about 3'wide and maybe 10' long. We have 3 chickens now, and would have 5 at max (we are in the suburbs). Is a narrow run okay? They will be let out into the general yard quite often.

    I don't think 3' is insanely narrow for 3-5 chickens. It might be a bit more problematic for more of them, or for 3-5 if you were talking about an even narrower run... you can get problems putting livestock in *very* narrow corridors such that one animal can control others' access to half the area or corner somebody at the end to kick the crud out of them; but you should probably be ok as long as you really do mean 3'.

    We were going to have the floor of the run just be dirt, but then I don't understand how to keep it from being really smelly. Do I pull the run out every now and then and turn over the dirt? If so, how do we attach the run to the coop but still have it be removable?

    I'm a little confused about 'pulling the run out', usually the run's floor is the ground. Are you going to have this on some sort of flooring or something?

    But yes, people sometimes till their runs (just like you'd till a garden), or add several inches of sand or sand and gravel for a clean dry well-draining surface.

    We weren't originally planning on having wire along the bottom of the run, but digging out a trench won't work because of where it's located. Do we need to have wire along the bottom?

    I'd suggest an apron of decent-gauge wire mesh (no larger than 2x4" attached to the foot of the run fence and lying horizontally on the ground for 2+ feet out from the fence. Cover it with sod or pavers or rocks or something, and not much will be able to dig into the run. And it requires little nor no digging to install [​IMG] and leaves the actual RUN just dirt-floored.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     

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