New with questions :-)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Jstkiddn, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. Jstkiddn

    Jstkiddn Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 30, 2008
    Hi!

    Being a newbie, I hate to rush in like this just firing off questions, but I have a mid-construction coop and a hubby with a long weekend off work who wants to get some work done. [​IMG]

    Animal crazy 8 yr. old daughter has decided she wants some chickens. Mom and Dad think some fresh eggs would be pretty nice. Soooo....Daddy started the "chicken condo" last weekend.

    But picky-retentive Mom still has some questions because she wants it to be "just so".

    1. Coop is 8' x 12'. We do not have the run built yet, but we are on 80 acres with no close neighbors.....so size of the run isn't that much of an issue (besides money to build...LOL).

    2. That being said, how many chickens would comfortably roost/lay in a coop that size. Haven't decided yet if we are going to go with just hens or have one rooster too. How large would you suggest a run? I would LOVE to eventually be able to let them out to free-range all around the barn area and in the pasture, but we have a couple of issues that may not allow that. (electric fence around horse pasture, couple of barn cats, predators, etc.)

    3. The big question for the weekend is how many nest boxes to build. And how high should they be off the ground? I've read some here for about the last week and have decided to just use 2 x 4's with the 4" side up as roosts. Is that okay?

    This is all very hurried (because hubby is waiting for me up at the barn to come help) and I know I will have tons more questions later about specific breeds and such. Hope you guys don't mind. But today I have a man with lumber and a hammer in his hand and I just want to get some basic coop specs. [​IMG]

    Thanks SO much.
     
  2. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member

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    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    Quote:Don't worry about the questions; that's what we're here for. By the way, [​IMG]!

    1. Coop is 8' x 12'. We do not have the run built yet, but we are on 80 acres with no close neighbors.....so size of the run isn't that much of an issue (besides money to build...LOL).

    80 acres? Can I just mention that I'm rather jealous?

    An 8' x 12' coop is 96 square feet. I think the rule of thumb is 4 square feet per bird. You'll also need to factor in how much roost space you can fit. If you go with bantams, you can fit a few more in (hint, hint), but you'll also get smaller eggs.

    2. That being said, how many chickens would comfortably roost/lay in a coop that size. Haven't decided yet if we are going to go with just hens or have one rooster too. How large would you suggest a run? I would LOVE to eventually be able to let them out to free-range all around the barn area and in the pasture, but we have a couple of issues that may not allow that. (electric fence around horse pasture, couple of barn cats, predators, etc.)

    Well, 96/4 = 24, and most hatcheries will send you 25 birds, so I'd say it's easiest just to go with ordering 25.

    If you want chicks, you'll need a rooster. Roosters are just plain fun to have, too. They'll also defend and look out for your flock. Besides, you don't have any neighbors close by to hear him and complain.

    I think the run "rule" is 10 square feet per bird, but you do need to factor in cost and how safe can you make a run that big. A run is often a coop's weakest link, so if you can't afford to make a large, safe run, you may want to build a smaller one.

    3. The big question for the weekend is how many nest boxes to build. And how high should they be off the ground? I've read some here for about the last week and have decided to just use 2 x 4's with the 4" side up as roosts. Is that okay?

    Yes, the roost plan is awesome. Your roosts should be higher up than the nest boxes, or they'll sleep (and poop) in the nests. This will aggravate you, trust me. [​IMG] I'd put the nest boxes about one to two feet off the ground (you can stack them, just put a perch outside of them for the hens to land on), and the roosts around four feet off the ground. For 25 hens, 10 nest boxes would probably be fine. They will all lay at different times, and might even want to share the same nest, so sometimes it doesn't matter how many you build... They're all waiting in line for the same nest anyway.

    This is all very hurried (because hubby is waiting for me up at the barn to come help) and I know I will have tons more questions later about specific breeds and such. Hope you guys don't mind. But today I have a man with lumber and a hammer in his hand and I just want to get some basic coop specs. [​IMG]

    Thanks SO much.

    Have you looked at the coop plans on this site to get some ideas? That should help you a lot, too. (Not that we don't mind answering questions!)

    Don't forget to post some pictures of your coop construction, if you can!

    See you around!​
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2008
  3. Omran

    Omran Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2008
    Bagdad KY
    I think the chicken lady did a fantastic job answering your questions I wish I can do something to help,but I will post my coop pictures for you may they will help some.[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Sounds good so far [​IMG]

    Nest boxes, usually you'd want one for every 3-4 hens, depending on what size the boxes are and things like that. Make sure they are located lower than the roosts.

    As far as how many chickens you can put in X amount of space, commercial factory-farm standards are 1-2 sq ft per chicken; most people on this board prefer like 4 sq ft per chicken of coop plus 6-10 sq ft per chicken of run; personally I prefer considerably more, like 6-10 sq ft (of coop, that is, PLUS a large run on top of that) because I think they seem a lot happier that way.

    So, partly it depends on your personal view of the world, and what your priorities are. Partly it also depends on how much time the chickens will spend in the coop - if you are in a year-round mild climate or will have a very large covered uglyweatherproofed run, then you can probably pack 'em in a bit more than if they will frequently want (or have) to spend more time in the coop. In general, though, the fewer sq ft of coop you have per chicken, the greater the risks of disease and pecking/cannibalism problems, and the harder (more time and $-consuming) it is to keep the coop clean.

    THe main issue with run construction is whether you are going to put a predatorproof top on it, or just a hawkproof top, or no top at all (that's in descending order of safety of chickens). Because of expense and engineering issues, a run with a predatorproof 'lid' is probably going to have to be smaller (or if not, then narrower and a lot more expensive) than a run that's open to the sky (as well as to hawks, raccoons, etcetera). Build it as big as you can, though.

    Oh, 2 handy tips for the construction stage: a) build as much ventilation (removable panels, openable flaps, windows, etcetera) as you can manage - it is MUCH easier than having to retrofit 'em; and b) put the pophole (the door the chickens will use) a foot or so above the floor. Keeps litter inside [​IMG] You may even choose to do that with the people door, perhaps with a removable sill so that you can still get a wheelbarrow in there easily when it is time to do major cleaning.

    Have fun,

    Pat
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2008
  5. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Colorado
    Welcome to BYC!

    Everybody has given you great advice. I just wanted to say that you don't need nest boxes until your chickens are close to laying age. It can actually be helpful not to give them access to their nest boxes until about 2 weeks before they would generally start laying - otherwise, you may end up with chicks sleeping in the nest boxes and that's a pain to stop and you end up with poopy eggs.

    I would suggest you start with fewer chickens than you think you want. Maybe start with ten and then see how you all like it (we know you'll love it but you need to find that out yourselves [​IMG]). Also, people often find they want certain breeds after having chickens and not filling your coop up the first year will allow you to add the breeds you want later.

    I'm a huge advocate for having less chickens than more. Don't stuff them in there. Even though your coop can "hold" 24 standard size chickens. I'd go with a few less just to help prevent feather picking issues if they ever need to be locked up for a day or more.

    Roosters can be great and they can be nasty. It's pretty much a hit and miss, although certain breeds seem to have a better reputation of being nicer to people. Most roosters don't start showing their nasty side until they reach sexual maturity (around 5 to 6 months old). I love hearing our roosters crow and love having them with the girls, especially when they free range.

    It's great that this is a family project... enjoy!
     
  6. Jstkiddn

    Jstkiddn Out Of The Brooder

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    You guys are great!!! Thanks so much for your help and advice! [​IMG]

    I'll try to get a few pics of the coop when I go feed the horses this evening. It's all still very "in the works" but you can get the basic idea.

    My hubby and our teenaged son were working on it this morning but I just lost them to more exciting things. They just took the boat and headed out to the lake. Soooo......I'm guessing no more chicken coop contruction today. [​IMG]

    Our daughter is sooooo stinkin' excited it's not funny. She has talked of nothing but chickens for the past 3-4 weeks. She carries around her Murry McMurry catalog and continually asks "What kind of chickens do you like?" All her school papers have come home with chickens drawn in the margins. LOL

    One question I do have is about electric fences and chickens.

    If I were to ever let them out of the enclosure to free range, the coop is very close to horse pasture/paddock. Our horse fencing is something called Electrobraid. I'm wondering if the electric charge in the fence can kill or harm a chicken?

    The following was taken from the Electrobraid site:
    Will an electric fence harm my animals or children?
    No. The safety of a two-year-old child is the criterion applied by national testing laboratories, such as UL and CSA, to certify the safety of an electric fence energizer. The electric pulse put out by an energizer is so short (about 3/10,000 of a second) it hurts but it cannot injure. Once shocked, neither you nor any animal wants to touch the electric fence again.


    Yeah, I know. Didn't mean much to me either. [​IMG] I'm guessing it means that it bites, but it's so short that one cannot become stuck to it and be injured?

    We have two barn cats who have lived at our barn for over a year. While I have not personally witnessed them touching the fence, I'm sure at some point they have HAD to have touched it. When we were installing the fencing they would run under the fencing all the time. After we charged it with electricity they never go near it (neither do the horses...LOL) So I'm guessing that means they were introduced.

    Anyway, the cats are fine and it hasn't hurt them, but I realize chickens are not cats.

    Any opinions?

    I'll save my chicken breed questions for another place and time.

    Thank you again!! You have all been most helpful.
     
  7. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Colorado
    Chickens will be fine with the electric fence. It won't kill them if they touch it.

    My kids have all accidentally (or not) touched our electric fence. I can't tell you how many times I've touched one ... we're all fine. (I know the 'we're all fine' part may be open for debate... but I'm talking physically... not mentally. [​IMG]
     
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:They should be absolutely fine. Some people *have* had chickens die in electric fences, but only if it is a massively oversized charger and/or it was electronet (electrified twine mesh) and the chicken actually got tangled in it so it couldn't get away.

    Chickens are actually pretty poor conductors, partly because of their feathers and partly b/c of their very light weight - it is said to take a higher current to electrically-fence in chickens than horses [​IMG] Electronet is sometimes used to contain chickens (well, as much to keep predators out as to keep chickens in, but the point is, the chickens are surrounded by it and they generally do just fine)

    P.S. though, just for completeness:

    The following was taken from the Electrobraid site:
    Will an electric fence harm my animals or children?
    No. The safety of a two-year-old child is the criterion applied by national testing laboratories, such as UL and CSA, to certify the safety of an electric fence energizer. The electric pulse put out by an energizer is so short (about 3/10,000 of a second) it hurts but it cannot injure. Once shocked, neither you nor any animal wants to touch the electric fence again.


    I think this is pretty misleading. People (rarely) and animals (not all that infrequently) DO get killed by electric fences, either because they get hung up and can't get away after the first zap and thus get shocked over and over til heart and respiration quit; or because of standing in an extra good conductor e.g. water; or because of getting zapped in a particularly vulnerable way e.g. a shock to the head is more of a problem than a shock to the leg.

    I am a big fan of electric fencing, I just think people need to be honest (the sellers) and informed (the buyers) about it so as to use it with sense and caution.

    Your chickens will be fine with the horse fence, though.

    Have fun (it soundslike you are, esp your daughter <g>),

    Pat​
     

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