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Newbie in the throes of designing a coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by OzarkEgghead, Oct 10, 2015.

  1. OzarkEgghead

    OzarkEgghead Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 8, 2015
    I guess there's a few things you need to know about me before I get to my questions.

    First of all, I've wanted chickens for several years but just never seemed to get around to doing the research & construction work to do it. As such, I'm an absolute chicken novice. The closest I've gotten to having chickens was the broilers & eggs I've bought at the store!

    Secondly, well, I'm just gonna say it...I'm terribly frugal. Some say I'm just plain cheap. They could be right because I pinch pennies so hard that I make Lincoln cry. I absolutely hate spending money unnecessarily. Aside from my love of being as self-sufficient as I can, I can't STAND the current egg prices for runny, factory-farmed eggs, especially since I, by myself, go through at least 14 eggs per week!

    That said, I've been looking at a few possible places to house the chicks I want to get in the Spring...most likely Buff Orpingtons. Even using the reclaimed lumber that I have, site #1 would require a fair investment in new building materials, would be shaded by my horse barn for 3/4 of the day in the wintertime and, abutting the rear of the horse barn, will be out of my sight & far from my 5 noisy dogs should predators decide to attempt a raid. It would, though, facilitate a dirt floor.

    Site #2 is a 12' x 16' workshop/garden shed that is significantly closer to my home, which would, in theory, allow my 5 noisy dogs to make predators think twice before raiding the hen house but the dogs would NOT have access to the chickens or the coop. Since the building is already constructed, I would be using the reclaimed lumber that I have to construct a wire-screened partition that would make the chicken accommodations 12' wide x 10' deep & the remaining 12' x 6' would be for feed & garden tools. It's conceivable that the lumber that I have will do the complete job & the only expense would be for the wire screening. If I don't have enough lumber, I would have to purchase very little compared to the nearly completely new build on site #1. Unlike site #1, site #2 is free-standing & gets light/sunlight from dawn until dusk. I'm in extreme Southcentral Missouri & our summers are hot & very humid & the winters are generally relatively mild, with the exception of February which sees days in the 20's. The shed is built on a slight slope so the front entrance is at ground level & the back end where the chickens would be is elevated about 6"-8". This shed has a plywood floor.

    I'm leaning towards site #2 since there is much less work needing done & much less expense required. I'm unsure about the wood floor, though. As long as a I bed them well, are there drawbacks or health concerns related to wood flooring? Is there anything that I should do to the floor to make it "better"? Will the wood floor need periodic disinfecting? I've seen some posts where people put down linoleum (I think). Is that for health purposes or just for ease of cleaning?

    I have 10 oak trees & 2 Bradford Pear trees scattered throughout my yard & innumerable oaks, maples, sumac (not the poison kind, the tree kind), etc scattered throughout my pastures & around the perimeter of my 17 acres. I thought one way to keep expenses down would be to use the copious dry Fall leaves God blesses me with as bedding in the coop. Is this ok to do? Are there certain leaf varieties that I should *not* use?

    TIA for any advice or wisdom you can give.
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    Welcome to BYC!!
    I vote site #2 all the way - as to the wood floor, not a concern in my opinion. I've always had floored coops and bedded deeply over that. I would suggest reading the thread(s) on deep litter method (often referred to as DLM). Many folks use leaf litter not only as a bedding materiel in the coop itself, but also as a litter for the run as a nice layer of organic materiel is a great way to avoid a mud issue -- I realize you didn't really mention a run, but even when you plan to free-range there are definite advantages to having a run as times often arise which make it useful if not necessary.
  3. OzarkEgghead

    OzarkEgghead Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 8, 2015
    Thanks for your advice, Ol Grey Mare! I actually do have a run planned...about 16' x 20'. I just didn't mention it because my post was already quite long enough as it was!! LOL.

    I did think of another question, though, if you can stand it. This shed has 3 sliding glass windows with standard screens. I was going to place heavy wire-screening over the standard screens to assure the chickens can't peck their way out & predators can't push their way in. Do I have to screen the glass, as well? If so, I'm not going to be able to slide the windows open or closed, as needed. I may end up having to shorten the depth of the coop by about a foot-and-a-half so that the hens won't have access to the glass or come up with some way to slide the windows from the outside of the coop.
  4. CTKen

    CTKen Monkey business Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    I too am loathed to part with money. I converted my garden shed into a coop. I simply cut some branches for roosting poles and put large plastic basins on the existing shelves for nest boxes - works just fine for me!

  5. Folly's place

    Folly's place Overrun With Chickens

    Sep 13, 2011
    I would also use the shed, and hardware cloth over all windows and vents. I have an old broken concrete floor in the coop, and deep bed with bagged shavings, the same as sold for horse bedding. If I raked the leaves here, they could go in the coop, but I just mow them in place instead. Predator protection, especially at night, is VERY important. Your dogs may love chicken too, so build strong! I don't think I'm saving money having the birds, but the eggs and meat are great, and they are fun to have. Mary
  6. ksguy

    ksguy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 9, 2015
    Definitely go with the shed. I'm in the process of converting an 8x12 garden shed right now. It's a very similar setup as yours, out in the middle of the yard with no shade. I split the interior in half, 8x6 for chickens and 8x6 for storage. I also have two windows, but they were fixed. I completely removed one and just put hardware cloth in there instead. If you choose to keep the windows in place, I think it's probably acceptable to put the hardware cloth only over the screen portion that opens. Just make sure it's securely fastened to the center mullion (vertical frame) of the window if possible, so nothing can squeak by there.

    I also have a wood floor, but keep it covered with pine shavings. It isn't a big deal to sweep up and scoop out.

    Here's a picture of my setup. I spent precisely zero dollars on this interior, other than the chicken wire and hardware cloth (and chickens). All of the lumber and fasteners were in my workshop left over from previous projects.

  7. liz72703

    liz72703 Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 19, 2015
    Fayetteville, AR
    I also like the sound of option #2. As for the wood floor, you could cover it with cheap linoleum or vinyl tile to protect it and then put your bedding material over that. Sometimes you can get leftover linoleum scraps from flooring or big box stores.
  8. daxigait

    daxigait Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 10, 2015
    SW Missouri
    Yeah, I paid 50vents a square in Joplin at Lowes for 18" squares of the press down stuff for my floors. I decided to put the cloth on the outside of the window even though it is not pretty so I can open the windows on mine. I got my very expensive first three eggs with the coop and hardware cloth, but someone said it is a lifetime membership in the egg club and they are neat. Of course as I finished the nesting boxes in my yard one flew up and landed on my head. Go figure
  9. daxigait

    daxigait Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 10, 2015
    SW Missouri
    I was kneeling working;)
  10. OzarkEgghead

    OzarkEgghead Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 8, 2015
    Great minds must travel on the same path, CTKen!!! In my shed, there's a work bench that's about hip-high that runs around 3 sides...along the left long wall, around the back wall & along the right long wall. The left & right sections that will be in the shed portion I'm going to leave in place. I haven't yet decided what I want to do with the portion that will be in the chicken coop. Like you, I've thought about leaving a section of it in place to use as a base for the nesting boxes. I was thinking that I would remove the remaining section to make room for the roosting poles, hanging feeder, etc. & use at least some of the lumber to build the nesting boxes. I have 6 thick, old tomato stakes that I found while hunting through a junk pile behind an old local barn that I could use as roosting poles but I also have a tree behind the horse barn that's about 2-3" thick & 12-14 ft. tall that got attacked pretty good by tent worms this year & I'm 90% certain that it's dead. If it doesn't leaf out again in the Spring, I'm gonna cut it down anyway so I was thinking of "recycling" it into roost poles & saving the tomato stakes for something else.

    I rode one of my horses the 3/4 mile down the road today to give my neighbor some mail that had been improperly posted into my box on Saturday & just happened to find out that they keep chickens. I had no idea! Despite them being free-range, you never see them up in their yard or taking a dirt-bath out on the road. I asked her how she protected them from the active coyote pack we have here & she said that she just puts them up in the barn at night. It has gotten me thinking about free-ranging but, depending on the time of the year, it's often dark before I get home from work & would be able to pen them into the coop so I'm a bit afraid I'd be losing hens left & right to the resident coyotes. My neighbor is retired so she has no problem getting them rounded up before it gets dark.

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