Newbie Coop Questions on Materials

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by SisterFlash, Oct 13, 2007.

  1. SisterFlash

    SisterFlash Songster

    Newbie construction questions here sorry so many. I am also sorry if these have been asked before. I am also just planning ahead for spring. A few raised beds in my garden and the chicken coop and run are my winter projects I am considering. I am thinking about 10 hens. But I am a planner and want to make sure I have all the info I need before proceeding. I hope you will share your kindness and experience with me. [​IMG]

    Thanks for all the great info you have shared already as I have read through many of the threads and wow what great ideas. But now I just have more questions. [​IMG]

    I am a new to construction projects but I think with all your great ideas I can handle it (I did fence my garden and helped with building my horse barn).

    Any good step by step books for chicken coops that you can suggest would be wonderful? I have seen some of the coop plans but they are maybe not as step by step as I need.

    We also have every predator under the sun here I want to keep my future birds happy and safe. So that is my goal.

    Hardware cloth – got it no chicken wire.
    So what gauge is best for predator control and chickens happiness?
    What size hole? 2 per inch or smaller?
    Has anyone used the PVC coated or powered coated hardware cloth? I think the black PVC coated would really make the wire visibly disappear. Any draw backs that you know of?

    Insulation… how much and what is the best kind?
    We can get down to about 1 or 2 degrees F in the winter but are in an alpine area with up to 50 degree swing in a day. Will insulation be enough to keep the girls warm?

    We do have snow…not a lot but to keep the run dry I would like to roof it. Are their other ways besides expensive roofing to keep the run dry that would look nice like tent type structure? Must be able to handle some winds which we do get in the spring.

    Why raise up a coop off the ground… baring floods? I do like this style but want to understand the best way to construct. I like the idea of being able to walk in inspect the birds as needed, which would be more on the ground walk in.

    What height of the roof do you find is best for the coop and run?

    Electric….is it a must? I think I would like to add it but for a small flock of 10 or 12 what types of outlets and items would you suggest for coop?

    We have lots of juniper branches which could be used as perches of the right diameter. My question are chicken allergic to juniper since cedar is part of the juniper family? I thought I read somewhere that cedar was deadly to chickens.

    I assume pine purches would be ok. Right?
    Are their other woods or materials that are an isuse with chickens safety?

    Also is it a good idea to put perches out in the run too or does this cause them to want to roost out in the pen at night before I close them up?

    Are their fun things you put in the run besides food (like toys) to keep the girls happy and having fun? I might sound crazy but my horses love their toys.

    Did you put the foundation parts of the coop (ie the 4x4s) in to the ground or did you use concrete piers or blocks (I hope I got the terms right there).

    What is the standard nesting box size for heavy birds?

    As anyone used rubber stable mats (like used in horse barns) for the flooring of their coop? Experiences? I find in my horse stalls it makes cleanup of the shaving a breeze. I think this would make the hosing out of the coop easier and protect a wood floor and warm up concrete. The rubber is pretty hard, heavy but flexible…would the chickens peck it to pieces?

    Oh one more thing. I want to put my chicken coop up near my garden like others have. I would like to use the chickens in the spring (before planting) and fall to till the garden and clean up any bugs etc. Great idea. My garden is fenced with chicken wire under ground too…but has no roof and that would be difficult because I do not want a year round caged roof on it. I would like to keep the hens in and protect them from hawks and such during the day. I like the idea of them getting a lot of extra space for part of the year. So for a 60x40 ft garden is there an easy type of netting or something light that can be rolled over the top for a few months and secured then removed for the growing season?

    Thanks again for all your help. I want to build a classy coop like all of you have here. I love all the creativity and uniqueness of all of them I have seen.

    Barb [​IMG]

    PS: I know I am just learning about chickens again (had them when I was a kid) but one thing we use in the horse industry (beside the Sweet PDZ, DE which I know you all have found) is pellet pine bedding. This product is far more adsorbent than regular shavings and cheaper and provided better traction to a horse.

    With regular pine shavings I can smell my horses pee spot in the morning. With the pellet pine bedding (like guardian horse bedding) I do not smell it at all. For horses it is much easier to clean the stall and the padded footing is quite nice. Not sure how this translates to the chicken coop.

    The bedding does need to be rehydrated but this might have a good application in chicken coop. What do you think?
  2. kstaven

    kstaven Crowing

    Jan 26, 2007
    BC, Washington Border
    Coated wire really has no draw backs and is visually more appealling. Price is the drawback for some.

    Good fibreglass r20 insulation will work well in the walls and ceiling.

    Post and beam structure over the run with a shake top looks ok and the shakes help keep the heat from radiating through the top like shingles, pvc or metal will allow. Just my thought here.

    People raise coops off the ground to maximise usable space. The problem for cold or really hot climates is the temps inside will swing more than a ground based coop with a concrete or dirt floor.

    Personally I like a coop and run I can stand up in. Your back will thank you during clean ups.

    Electricity is nice to have, but not something you have to have, considering your climate. Doesn't sound like you will need heat for mature birds, but if you raise chicks you will need it. Supplimenting light during the winter will help keep hens laying. Being able to plug in a heat lamp for a bird that is not feeling up to scratch is always a plus.

    Cedar oil and the fumes can be an issue for some. Juniper does not carry the same oil or carcinogenic edge. Pine is fine. Watch out for fruit trees that have been sprayed. Many of the toxins never leave the wood.

    I would use perches in the coop and not worry about the run. Outside time is spent dust bathing and bug hunting anyways.

    Greens suspended in a mesh bag always makes a good toy to keep chickens amused and challenged.

    If you can do it a concrete foundation makes for a good structural base and one that is far more predator proof. It is worth the money.

    12 x 12 or 12 x 14 seems to be the size my standards like.

    Chickens will not rip those mats up and it will aid in clean up.

    Nylon deer mesh will work like a charm over the garden. I use it on a 40 x 150 garden. 8 x 100 roll is about $30.00. Super light weight and local hawks have never got through it. I use it over all my outdoor chick runs.

    I have never personally used the pellets. But I have no doubts that some here have.

    Hope my answers and opinions help you out.
  3. Rafter 7 Paint Horses

    Rafter 7 Paint Horses Songster

    Jan 13, 2007
    East Texas
    Great answers kstaven

    The only thing I would add is that the roosts be flat or a large diameter if round. Your chickens need to be able to sit on their feet. Not only to keep them warm during the winter, but chickens aren't designed to perch like a parrot or other caged birds. They don't grip with their toes.

    I like a 2x4 with the wide side up so they can sit on it. If you do a slanted ladder type roost, make sure to turn the 2x4's so the wide side is level. ( cut a notch in the supports so it lays flat).

    Others on here have used the pellet bedding and liked it. I have never tried it.

    And I vote for walk in heights for coop and run. I have some that are 4 foot tall and my back aches every time I clean them. And egg gathering isn't fun either! Those pens do not get the attention that the walk in ones do.


    edited to add: the size of the wire...the smaller the better. 1/2 hardware cloth is good. It has to be small enough that those pesky coons can't get their hands through it. I put 1/4 inch hardware cloth for baby chicks.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2007
  4. SisterFlash

    SisterFlash Songster

    Thanks so much kstaven and R7 Paint Horses, [​IMG]

    How cool all the info you have helped me out with. I appreciate you providing answers to my many detailed questions. I think you are giving me guidance on which way to go.

    I am glad to know the rubber mats and pelleted shavings will work. [​IMG]
    Wonderful since I already have experience with these products with my horses.

    I think I will go with walk in, concrete base and edge around the run. Well it will be a lot of digging and concrete delivery is expensive here. So I will have to think on this.

    How deep and wide would you go with the concrete around the run edges (yes it would be much easire to build on). With my horse barn we went over 2 feet deep for the stall edges and I am thinking about 6 inch wide curb. Could this be done with a lot less depth due to much less weight being supported?

    Our temps here year round can swing 50 degrees so the fact that the raised houses might not have as stable temps would I think cause even more stress to the birds.

    I do have some deer fencing and I was hoping that would work over my garden during the spring and winter. Basically we have 6 months where nothing is really growing and I would like them in the garden during that time. So wonderful others are doing the same.

    Kstaven how many months do you put your chickesn in the garden area? I am assuming there are all sorts of benifits. Any experiences that are helpful there (watch out for do this)?

    I like idea of the shake roof but with fire danger here and risk of fire brands being tossed out from the national forest during fire season ... I have to go with metal or completely fire resistant type roofing. I have been through a fire and even helped my neighbour evacuate their peafowl, chickens etc...of course my horses, critters etc were also evacuated.

    But with thunderstorms and hail I have to think abotu how to make the noise less. My metal roof on my horse barn is loud but they are only in at night and generally the thunderstorms and hail are during the day. Maybe plywood then some foam or bubble wrap insulation and then the metal on top? Hum.

    The perch commetns are wonderful. What I am hearing from both of your experience is that they like more of a shelf to sit on/roost on. How cool I kept thinking 2 inch diamater pole.

    Loved the greens in a bag. Fantastic. I can bet both of your birds are having a great time.

    thanks so much for the help. Any others?

    Now if I can just decide what breeds I want. Yikes so much to choose from.

    Barb [​IMG]

    PS: I realize with the temps swing 50 degrees daily, thunderstorms and fires not to mention all the predators we have might sound horrible....really it is quite beautiful in the mountains and the 4 seasons are very mild ... I just want to plan for the worst possible so my future girls are happy and healthy as I can provide.
  5. nccountrygirl

    nccountrygirl Songster

    Jul 31, 2007
    Sanford N.C.
    Sisterflash, now you need to decide if you want standard or bantie breeds, standard you have your smaller chickens like Ameracunas and EE or your larger standards like Jersey Giants, Buffs and Barred Rocks. Hope this helps, I like the larger standard they are more laid back than some of my smaller hens.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2007
  6. kstaven

    kstaven Crowing

    Jan 26, 2007
    BC, Washington Border
    My chickens go in the garden as soom as the snow is gone. That way they catch the new weeds and seeds before they germinate. Close them off from the garden as soon as I plant. Then they are back in the garden as soon as everything is harvested until the snow flies. I find I have a lot less summer weeding to do by following this formula.

    You also get the benefits of them fertizing and tirning the soil for you! [​IMG]

    My coop foundations are 6" x 18" Smallest coop is 16 x 24. 6" of that concrete is bove ground to avoid moisture issues in the walls.

    You could top the runs with Corroplast(kplast is the same thing). It is a corrugated pvc used on greenhouses. It is tough and not overly expensive. Last sheets I bought where $18.50 for 4 x 8 sheets. Lots of colors available.

    If you want good all round chickens that stand up to weather and temp spikes I would suggest good old standard heritage breeds. Bantams are fun but if you want meat or eggs standards are the way to go.

    If concrete costs are an issue I would go with a concrete foundation and dirt floors. Rubber mats over plywood will trap the moisture and create problems for you. This I know from experience. Rubber mats over gravel will work well also.
  7. SisterFlash

    SisterFlash Songster

    Quote:thanks again for all the help

    Love it that is what I was looking for with getting chickens besides the fun I remember as a kid and the eggs. My garden is 100% organic and I would really like some little tilling and fertilizing work done out there besides what I do already.

    Since we do not get a lot of snow here (only 4 or 5 storms a year of 8 inches or less) sounds like my chickens might get a lot of daytime garden time.

    I plan to go with standards. I am also going for what are claimed to be calmer breeds that have brown or colored eggs. I am still doing my research there and trying to decide.

    The major expense with the concrete is the cost of bring out the truck...once it is here it is here. So when I have my plans done I will see who is building in the area and call out a truck in conjuction with neighbours...or so I hope

    We have too many predators here to even discuss (lots of game too) but I do not want my chickens to be easy pickings. So I will go with the concrete. 18 inches deep right?

    Are most preditors besides birds of prey (we have a lot here too including the Black Hawk, Bald Eagel, and Golden) usually hunting at night?

    Coroplast - cool just went and looked this up....just what I think I was looking for. Using the metal there is a 3 inch overlap. Do you ahve to over lap this product too? Homedepot and Lowes I assume carry this right?

    I do want to roof most of the run or all of it to decrease mud and help keep things safer from the sky.

    I am planning a 8 x 10 coop with a 20 x 10 run. I only have two places where I can put the coop/run next to my garden. One will have better wind sheltering and more morning sun and less afternoon sun so I am thinking of that location.

    Any suggestions to make a coop easier to clean?

    Thanks again

    Barb [​IMG]
  8. kstaven

    kstaven Crowing

    Jan 26, 2007
    BC, Washington Border
    We are all organic here too.

    In the part of BC where I am we get 4 or 5 major storms during the winter and most of it melts off in between. Usually no snow until december and it is all gone in March. We get colder than you do though.

    Night is the worst time for chicken safety.

    Home depot does carry it. Yes, you will have to overlap it. I would use the clear over the runs so the birds can still get the advantages of sunlight.

    Short of hiring some one else to clean the coop I think you have done almost all you can. The more hours your birds range the cleaner the coop stays. Areas under the roosts are the biggest collectors of mess.

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