Newbie Designed Coop and Help Needed

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BeyondBlessed

Songster
Jun 10, 2022
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Hey everyone! My husband and I are new to the chicken world. We recently designed a new run and coop and just finished it! I say "we" loosely.. it was 99% my husbands doing! 😅 We built it on a travel trailer for easy moving into the barn during a hurricane. It also keeps the coop off of the wet ground, which rocks! With this design, I am having a few questions. We still need to attach the automatic watering system, but we are good on that. But there are a couple of questions we are having a tough time figuring out.

Our chickens are about 8 weeks old. They have been outside now for about a week and a half. At night, they only go inside the coop if we have a light guiding them. Which, I have read they have terrible night vision, so that makes sense. But we are having a really tough time firguring out a light source that we can install that is dim, only comes on at certain times, and will only stay on for a short period of time. We want it to be as natural for them as possible, so having on a constant light is not something we really want. But neither is us having to go turn it off each night. Has anyone found the perfect light option just to get them settled in at night?

The other question is, we have an automatic feeder inside the coop now (not pictured). We have it inside the coop because of bugs and living in Florida. This area gets tons of windy rain, and we just don't want to lose food because of it. But for some reason, the chickens do not want to go up there to eat, unless the big doors are open. The big side ventilation doors are open the entire time allowing tons of light and ventilation. But it seems they "forget" it's there, unless we show it to them by opening the front door. Once we do that.. they act like they have been starving all day and eat a ton. Lol

Is there a good way to show them their food is available all day and they can eat it anytime?

Thank you all so much for your help! ❤️❤️
God Bless!
 

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But we are having a really tough time firguring out a light source that we can install that is dim, only comes on at certain times, and will only stay on for a short period of time. We want it to be as natural for them as possible, so having on a constant light is not something we really want. But neither is us having to go turn it off each night.
Do you have electricity available at the coop?
I would try plugging a nightlight into a timer.
You might have to adjust the timer on occasion as the day length changes, or you could pick settings that will work all year (like going on at noon, and going off later than a midsummer sunset.)

Or you could look into solar-powered lights, the kind that charge themself each day, give light at dusk, and go off when they run out of power.

...it seems they "forget" it's there, unless we show it to them by opening the front door. Once we do that.. they act like they have been starving all day and eat a ton.

Is there a good way to show them their food is available all day and they can eat it anytime?
Did you shut them into the coop for a few days, before giving them access to the run? If you did not already do that, you might try it. That would let them get in the habit of eating from the feeder during the daytime, which might help them remember it better after you start letting them out again.

Or you could open the front door every day and leave it that way.

Or maybe you could put the feeder in a different place in the coop, where it is easier for them to see through the doors you do open.

They might also improve as they get older.
 
Do you have electricity available at the coop?
I would try plugging a nightlight into a timer.
You might have to adjust the timer on occasion as the day length changes, or you could pick settings that will work all year (like going on at noon, and going off later than a midsummer sunset.)

Or you could look into solar-powered lights, the kind that charge themself each day, give light at dusk, and go off when they run out of power.


Did you shut them into the coop for a few days, before giving them access to the run? If you did not already do that, you might try it. That would let them get in the habit of eating from the feeder during the daytime, which might help them remember it better after you start letting them out again.

Or you could open the front door every day and leave it that way.

Or maybe you could put the feeder in a different place in the coop, where it is easier for them to see through the doors you do open.

They might also improve as they get older.
Thank you soo much!!! We did not leave them in the coop for a few days! 😬 We may have messed that part up. 😬 If it continues over the next few days, we will totally do that!


Thanks so much for your help!
 
Thank you soo much!!! We did not leave them in the coop for a few days! 😬 We may have messed that part up. 😬 If it continues over the next few days, we will totally do that!
You didn't really mess up. Some people find that shutting them in for the first few days helps, and some people skip it and things are fine anyway.

You're not stuck with your previous decision, either. You can choose to shut them in the coop for a few days even if you have previously allowed them in the run. Or you can choose not to at this time, and you still have the option later.
 
Hi fellow Floridian!
You did a fabulous job on that run! The hardware cloth + wire panels look nice and tough and well put together. I like the notched attachment on that roost bar in the coop too.

I'm having trouble seeing your coop ventilation, but I did see some HW cloth up near the ceiling. Can you describe your ventilation? A lot is essential here in FL so the coop doesn't turn into an oven.

I know some people use lights to guide them into the coop but in my opinion I think it encourages dilly dallying to bed. Over the long term that gets really annoying because you want to be able to see they're up and get back to human things.
We have two adult flocks atm, one is really good and one is really naughty. It's as much a matter of habit as anything.
The naughty ones leave it to the very last minute of light left and stroll in at such a slow rate the rooster has histrionics trying to get all the girls to bed.
The good flock is up and choosing their spots on the roost with an hour of light left. It makes it really easy for us to come shut their door when it's convenient for us as we don't have to hurry before dark.
To encourage more of this good behavior we go out and shoo the juvenile pen to bed soon after the good ones have gone up so they might grow up with the same idea about bedtime :)
 
Hi fellow Floridian!
You did a fabulous job on that run! The hardware cloth + wire panels look nice and tough and well put together. I like the notched attachment on that roost bar in the coop too.

I'm having trouble seeing your coop ventilation, but I did see some HW cloth up near the ceiling. Can you describe your ventilation? A lot is essential here in FL so the coop doesn't turn into an oven.

I know some people use lights to guide them into the coop but in my opinion I think it encourages dilly dallying to bed. Over the long term that gets really annoying because you want to be able to see they're up and get back to human things.
We have two adult flocks atm, one is really good and one is really naughty. It's as much a matter of habit as anything.
The naughty ones leave it to the very last minute of light left and stroll in at such a slow rate the rooster has histrionics trying to get all the girls to bed.
The good flock is up and choosing their spots on the roost with an hour of light left. It makes it really easy for us to come shut their door when it's convenient for us as we don't have to hurry before dark.
To encourage more of this good behavior we go out and shoo the juvenile pen to bed soon after the good ones have gone up so they might grow up with the same idea about bedtime :)
Hey sourroses!! Florida is pretty amazing! Thank you so much!! We were super happy with how it all came out for us first timers! ❤️❤️

Thank you for the info!! I have come to learn how fun their chicken personalities are! We have some that seem like rule followers and some that are pretty crazy! 😅 So you talking about your two flocks cracks me up!

We decided to try out the keeping them in the coop for a few days! Hopefully them seeing it go from light to dark outside and seeing where they are located in the coop, will help them remember and then no longer need the light. 🤞

Ventilation was a top priority for us. Let me see if I can get better pics from the build so you can see how the doors work! We used leftover metal that people were selling or giving away, attached to a wooden frame for the doors. Each of those metal doors lift up on three sides, and are open. Metal mesh is covering the opening when the doors are open. Also, it is a single slope roof. And at the top is at the front, where the doors are located, and we have metal mesh there, that is open all the time.

We have left them open through all the storms these past couple of weeks, and it has kept the rain out! They easily close if we ever need them to. ❤️

Hopefully these pics help a little bit ❤️❤️
 

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Hey sourroses!! Florida is pretty amazing! Thank you so much!! We were super happy with how it all came out for us first timers! ❤️❤️

Thank you for the info!! I have come to learn how fun their chicken personalities are! We have some that seem like rule followers and some that are pretty crazy! 😅 So you talking about your two flocks cracks me up!

We decided to try out the keeping them in the coop for a few days! Hopefully them seeing it go from light to dark outside and seeing where they are located in the coop, will help them remember and then no longer need the light. 🤞

Ventilation was a top priority for us. Let me see if I can get better pics from the build so you can see how the doors work! We used leftover metal that people were selling or giving away, attached to a wooden frame for the doors. Each of those metal doors lift up on three sides, and are open. Metal mesh is covering the opening when the doors are open. Also, it is a single slope roof. And at the top is at the front, where the doors are located, and we have metal mesh there, that is open all the time.

We have left them open through all the storms these past couple of weeks, and it has kept the rain out! They easily close if we ever need them to. ❤️

Hopefully these pics help a little bit ❤️❤️

Oh wow, yeah I can see it now 🤩
Those sides look like they would provide great shade over the ventilation and like you said, rain protection. You guys really thought this out! 👍
Noticing the details, your husband is really good at building! From the way the HW cloth is cut and secured to the nuanced woodwork. It looks better than anything we ever made!
So... are you going to loan him out to the rest of us for our projects?
I think your design should be included in the coop builds articles section.
 
At night, they only go inside the coop if we have a light guiding them. Which, I have read they have terrible night vision, so that makes sense. But we are having a really tough time firguring out a light source that we can install that is dim, only comes on at certain times, and will only stay on for a short period of time. We want it to be as natural for them as possible, so having on a constant light is not something we really want. But neither is us having to go turn it off each night. Has anyone found the perfect light option just to get them settled in at night?
Have you stuck your head in there at dusk with no added light, to see how dark/bright it is in there? If you have all those vent panels propped open, I would think that should be sufficient light to to let them navigate. Really is easiest for you and the chickens to rely on natural light for their bed time navigation.

If it turns out it is darker in there than anticipated, since your hubby seems pretty good at building things, you might want to add a window (like plexiglass would be fine).


Is there a good way to show them their food is available all day and they can eat it anytime?
They honestly should learn that it's in there, over time. If you have a day or two where it's not too hot, maybe consider locking them into the coop to reinforce that.
 
That's a wonderfully well-built coop and the ventilation looks excellent.

Chickens are creatures of habit and, without any adults to teach them, it takes chicks a while to learn how to do things like go to roost at the right time, etc.

When you put them in do you put them in through the door they're expected to use during the day? It can help to teach them to go in and out.

This is also a good time to make use of treat foods -- putting them on the ramp and in the door so that they *want* to go in that way.
 

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