Newbie Coop Questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by AllisonK, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. AllisonK

    AllisonK In the Brooder

    Jun 16, 2008
    Hi We are hoping to get some chickens (need a coop first) and I have some questions about coops and runs. We are tight on money so hoping to save on the coop to build a better/safer run. We are thinking about using/modifying a large doghouse or two for the coop.

    1) Would it be better to somehow hook two together or could we just have two separate coops?

    2) I have read so many different opinions on how much space chickens need. What do you think the area per chicken should be for the coop and also for the run?

  2. CarlaRiggs

    CarlaRiggs Songster

    I would suggest one coop; the chickens may end up cramming into one coop, anyway [​IMG] . As far as area allotment, it depends on the weather in your area, and what the set up will be.
    Hens need room, or they will begin to peck at each other. If you live in snow, and the girls won't be able to get outside, you'll need a larger coop.
    If you have a more temperate climate, with the chickens allowed outdoors every day, then four sq. feet for the coop usually works well. Ten sq. feet per hen in the run (being protected from the weather) seems to work.
    The larger the area, the happier the girls are. [​IMG]
    If you're worried about investment $$ right now, you may want to plan your set-up so that you can add to the coop/run later. But just remember that chickens need the proper amount of space or it can be a real headache! [​IMG]

  3. AllisonK

    AllisonK In the Brooder

    Jun 16, 2008
    Thanks. I kinda of thought they might cram into one. We live in the PNW, Vancouver, WA to be exact so no snow usually just lots of rain. We also rent our home so won't be expanding until we buy hopefully in the next three years.

    We are thinking an 8 by 10 run maybe a bit larger and well the coop is still in the air. Trying to figure out how we would attach dog houses together. There are several 4 by 4 by 3 foot ones on Craigslist for my area for really cheap. We would like 8 to 10 chickens.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2008
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    In a rainy climate I would suggest more than just 4 sq ft per chicken of relatively dry space. Either a bigger coop, or a good enough roof on the run that at least of it stays mostly dryish.

    I think it may be unrewarding to try to merge 2 doghouses into 1, though. At the very least you'd end up messing them up so much that later on when you could afford to build a better coop you could no longer sell 'em as doghouses anymore. I would suggest looking for large packing crates, or 2x4's and plywood. Both of which are surprisingly not THAT hard to find if you know people at businesses that get large machines delivered or talk with the guys at construction sites.

    Good luck,

  5. s6bee

    s6bee Songster

    Jul 1, 2007
    Western, NY
    If I were you, try and find scrap wood from friends who may work at construction sites, or craigslist has been helpful to many on here. That may help with costs. You will want 4 sq. ft. per bird. And because of the rain, I would try and get it off the ground some.

    Good luck and get some ideas on the coop design page.

    Also, Welcome to BYC
  6. hendreque

    hendreque In the Brooder

    May 27, 2008
    SE PDX
    Allison, I can get wood from pallets from E at work. That's were our fencing came from. and how the roof is going to be built.

    what about building a pallet coop?
  7. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    In the Pacific NW, build tight and dry. I'd reccommend you get your coop, whatever it is, up off the ground a foot or two.
    But dont let tight and dry fool you into thinking poor ventilation. Whatever you use, it need to be airy, while remaining rain proof. Heres a pic of what I use, currently:



    AS you can see its more air than anything else! More of a shelter really. It is one key to good chicken health. In your mild climate, you should want something along these lines. Modify whatever you have to approach it.

    How much space? That's a loaded question. Some will use the usual numbers and say 4 sq ft per bird. I say don't.
    In a damp environment like yours, that could be trouble. Chickens are susceptible to respiratory ailments and too much confinement only exacerbates that.

    It might be better to ask how much space can you arrange? Then double that. Or triple it - Im not fooling. You see the area where my shelter is? It is 400 sq ft and I last had only 4 birds in there. 100 sq ft per bird is not too much. I NEVER had problems with poo, flies smell, disease etc. AND, Im in a dry climate. Imagine in a damp one.....

    8x10? Thats the size of my office. I would NOT want to keep 10 birds confined in there. Give them more room or get fewer birds, that's my advice.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2008
  8. Jenski

    Jenski Songster

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
    Hi Allison! There are a lot of good suggestions here, and I'll throw in my two cents as well. I keep my four spoiled suburban hens in a 10 x 8 covered run during the day while I am at work; the roof of the run is tinted polycarbonate sheeting I got at Home Depot. It allows the girls to go out and peck around in any weather, and it really helps keep the run floor dry. My coop is elevated, both for protection from drafts/rain and to maximize space in the run.

    I think four hens are plenty with my space, and there are perches and a bench in the run to keep them busy and active. They also get plenty of play time out in the yard with me every day. We have more than enough eggs for the household with four hens.

    You are welcome to check out pictures and info on the coop here:

    No coop is perfect, but we're happy with our arrangement ~ and I have happy hens too. Good luck!

    Jenski in Middle Tennessee
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2008
  9. scrapmom5

    scrapmom5 Songster

    Apr 21, 2008
    A friend of mine uses long chain link dog runs with a top on it. She covers the top with a tarp to protect it from the elements. She throws hay down for the floor and has put in some branches through the fence for roosts. She has two large dog houses stacked on top of each other for nesting or whatever. She also has swings attached to ropes for play. Her hens are very happy. If you watch the classified you may find these items fairly inexpensively and it is something you could take with you to incorporate into your new hen house when you build one.
  10. CityChook

    CityChook Songster

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    Hi Allison - I was still in the planning stage for my coop and was starting to stress that we wouldn't get it done soon enough to get the chickies out of my kitchen/office. I found a large shipping crate, literally sitting in a warehouse parking lot, waiting for the trash. It used to have a hot tub in it, or maybe a jacuzzi bathtub - it had a "cal spa" sticker on the side. Very sturdy 2x4 construction, lifted off the ground about 6 inches, and it had a removable lid. I called my husband to come with a pickup truck while I sat and waited with it. We never ended up using it, but it could have made a cute coop (temporary for us as the winters are COLD here and I need more space/insulation) with very little investment/construction work. I'm sure if you lurked around an industrial area you could land one of these storage crates. I know my husband's motorcycle came from Italy in an equally perfect crate, so there's another source to check out. I wish I lived closer - I'd give mine to you. Good Luck!

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