newbie coop question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by still learning, Feb 19, 2009.

  1. still learning

    still learning Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 20, 2008
    My dear sweet husband is building a coop this spring for us. We saw one a friend has and love it. Its a rectangle shape with two solid sides (one side is the pole barn we already have and the other side is more siding that looks like the pole barn). The roof is the same siding on the pole barn too. The other two walls are chicken wire attached to 2x4's, I believe (I am the mother hen here, not the carpenter so forgive my ignorance if I use the wrong terms...). This will be on a dirt floor, and will have the waterers/food hanging from the roof. Outside will be a large fenced yard just for them (which is inside the goat pasture, so if they get loose for some reason, they are still fenced in). I think the dimensions are 10 ft out from the barn wall, 8 ft tall, and about 18 feet in length. Inside the entire structure is a smaller little house with a little chicken ladder that has roosts in it and nesting boxes. My question is, how big is this roosting/staying warm/nest box area supposed to be? We do live in 4 season weather. I have 18 chicks coming the first week of April from Meyer, and am hoping to have a total of about 25 birds in the coop within another year. My friend's is quite small with 11 full grown chickens...it can't be bigger than 15 sq ft, total. It seemed almost too small to me, but the day I visited it was about 30 degrees with snow on the ground and her birds were very content in the litter bigger screened in area.

    Are we on the right track? Is there anything else we need to consider?
     
  2. SeaChick

    SeaChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding, but it sounds like you mean to have one enclosed warm area, a "small box" that you intend for roosting as well as laying? If that's correct, and if by 4-season weather you mean that you have cold winters, you want that area to provide at the minimum 4 sq feet per hen of USEABLE floor space... not taken up by nest boxes or feed/water. Personally, I have seen way too much winter feather pecking heartaches, and I'd increase that to 5 or 6 sq feet per hen. So, for 25 birds you'd want about 10' x 12' henhouse interior space.

    It sounds like your friend really lucked out with her birds, pecking-wise, if she has a much smaller henhouse area. At my old house, my 6 girls had 6x6 henhouse and 6 x 11 covered "run" with lots of lovely hay to scratch in, and we still had real heartaches with feather pecking. I have several friends with similar dimensions who have experienced the same. So now I am all for providing the biggest area you possibly can.

    Inside the enclosed are, you need 10" lineal feet of roost per hen (a 2x4 with rounded edges, flat side up) which is mounted HIGHER than your nest boxes. The hens will roost as high as they can, and you don't want them sleeping in the nests. Poopy broken eggs are no fun.

    You'll want one nest box for each 4 or 5 hens.

    On the other hand, if I misunderstood and you';re in warm weather year round, you can get away with a smaller enclosed area; I'll let other southerners comment on that!
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2009
  3. still learning

    still learning Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 20, 2008
    The entire coop area is 10x18, I believe, sheltered but not completely enclosed from the weather (two solid walls). The roosting area, which is a smaller little house for at night and when the weather is too cold, is the area I'm trying to determine a size for. This nighttime spot will be inside the 10x18 area. My friend has her nesting boxes within this roost area, but I'm not sure if that is necessary. We live where it gets cold (Eastern Time Zone), but not as cold as Maine. [​IMG]

    I am so terrible at describing things like this! I hope this clarifies a bit???
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Even with two walls and a roof protecting the pen as a whole, I would personally feel a whooooole lot better with at *least* 4 sq ft per chicken. Probably more, but it depends on what "it gets cold (Eastern Time Zone) but not Maine" means... is your "cold" like 0 F or is it more like -20 F? Also, how protected against swirling winds is the location... unless it is tucked away in a hollow or amongst trees, my experience is that wind and snow and rain will still get into much, sometimes all, of a 10' deep 8' high open shed. Which would tend to increase the amount of time the chickens want to spend 'indoors'.

    For whatever it's worth, my experience is that just because one sees other people 'cutting corners' on livestock-management issues does NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, mean that YOU will necessarily get away with it too. If you want to try it that way, go ahead, just if you start having problems with cannibalism etc realize it is a whole lot harder to solve that problem (can involve a lot of chicken stew) than to prevent it from starting in the future.

    At a minimum, you need about 10-12" of roost length per bird.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do,

    Pat
     
  5. SeaChick

    SeaChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    I have to say I agree with Pat. If you get snow... you are really pushing your luck not giving the birds sufficient indoor area. Best wishes
    Stacey
     
  6. CalicoFarm

    CalicoFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 5, 2009
    North East Alabama
    I just wanted to give a little tip. If I read correctly, you are going to have the run in your goat pasture. If the goats are anything like the ones I had they will rub themselves on the wire and will soon have the wire torn loose. I had to run a hot wire around mine to keep them off. Good luck with your new chickies.[​IMG]
     
  7. SussexInSeattle

    SussexInSeattle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 6, 2008
    Washington
    I don't like the 2 open sides unless you are living in southern Florida? There is a way to click on your profile and go in and add your approximate location so that when you ask questions of this nature, the people with all the experience can give you their best answer.

    Also in my opinion, chickens do not have to be penned up. They seem to be very much creatures of habit and flock bound meaning if they are raised together, they will generally move around a pasture or large yard in a group, sratching the ground looking for bugs as one unit, next taking their dust baths all as one group, next all laying down together to stretch out in the sun. Next thing you know, one gets hungry and soon they all wander back to the coop for some feed. Sometimes they will break into bands of two or three but generally they stay in contact with each other vocally.

    My biggest regret from owning chickens years ago and owning them now was that I never let my chickens roam my yard years ago and now realize how much the old ones missed out on. My current chickens have a fenced off pen for if they ever need to be locked in but the occasion is rare, most days their gate is open to wander the entire yard and they all go back in the coop to the nest boxes as the time of day to lay approaches.
     
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:You might think of it as just a very well-sheltered run... which I gather truly *is* what it would be. Personally I like the design, for whatever that's worth.

    Also in my opinion, chickens do not have to be penned up.

    This depends a whole lot on where a person lives, though, and what the predator situation is. Especially in winter.

    If I let my chickens roam, I would soon not have chickens. (My neighbor lost 9 of her 12 chickens from just June to the following October, with them free-ranging during the day and in a barn at night. Then she gave up and ate the last three herself).

    [​IMG]

    Pat​
     
  9. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

  10. still learning

    still learning Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 20, 2008
    Quote:It never occurred to me that we might be cutting corners? My friend's coop was not an attempt to cut corners. It was a design she saw in a poultry book and copied, I believe. 10x18 is 180 sq. feet, right? If I had 25 chickens, that would be 7 sq. ft per bird. I'm trying to determine the sleeping space (which will be entirely enclosed), not the living space.

    20 degrees is not uncommon in the winter and it does snow, but everyone I know lets their chickens out in snowy weather unless its below 20 degrees, so I wasn't imagining the birds being in this 10x18 coop area 24/7, even in the winter. -20 would be very unusual. My friend's two walled shelter keeps out the snow and rain. I was actually quite surprised at how it was not damp at all.

    We do have a pole barn and we were going to put the coop inside, but this seemed much cleaner, overall, easier to shovel out and certainly gets more fresh air than being inside the barn. That's why it appealed to us when we saw it.

    I dunno...I think maybe I've done a poor job explaining what I'm talking about. Maybe I'll browse the pictures and see if I can find something similar to link here.
     

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