Newbie!! Need to know coop building tips!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Seesagirl, Sep 24, 2014.

  1. Seesagirl

    Seesagirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I plan to get my chicks next spring, using this coming winter to research, select the breeds I want, design and build the coop, build the run, etc.

    I would like to have about a dozen chickens, with room to grow. How big of a coop do I need?

    I plan to fence in my new garden (we just moved) and fence a chicken run around it, making the run 3 feet wide all the way around. The coop will be in the middle of one of the longer sides, with doors at both ends. Should I leave the coop at 3 feet wide and just make it as long as I need? Or should the coop end up wider than the run? I will also be fencing my garden into four plots for rotation; one plot will be for composting, and the chickens will have access to it. Will this be enough of a run? The outer run including coop would be almost 500 square feet, plus about 250 square feet of composting garden plot.

    I will be researching the breeds extensively, but what would y'all recommend based on personal experience? I want good eggs, docile temperament, good around kids because I know my kids will practically live in the coop because they LOVE chickens, and it would be fun although not necessary if we had pretty chickens and pretty eggs lol.

    I also want to connect my coop to my greenhouse, utilizing the chickens' body heat to help heat the greenhouse in winter. Anybody have experience or ideas about this?

    Thanks in advance for any help!!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Follow the link in my signature for my thoughts on space for chickens. It’s not about coop size only. It’s about how much room is available to them when they need it. It can be in your coop, coop and run, or they can sleep in trees and totally free range. It will depend on your management techniques and your climate among other things.

    I really like your idea of surrounding the garden with the chicken run. That style is called a garden moat. You might be able to find something on that if you do a search.

    For your coop, you need access to all parts of it. You will need to do maintenance, modifications, or repairs, manage poop, and you may need to retrieve eggs or a chicken that doesn’t want to be retrieved. You can do that in something 3 feet wide, but most building materials come in 4’ and 8’ dimensions. You can usually build a coop with less waste and cutting if you plan around those dimensions.

    How are you planning to use your coop? Will it just be a place for them to sleep out of the weather or will you have nests in there? Will you feed and water in there or outside? What is your climate like? Will they be forced to spend a lot of time inside? The more you use that coop for the bigger it needs to be. He more they are in there the bigger it needs to be.

    Will you build it so you can go inside the coop? Three feet wide is not big enough for you to do that. Personally I don’t think 4 feet wide is big enough either. But if you are not going to make it where you can walk in, making it pretty narrow can make it easier to access it through doors or other openings. Try laying out the floor plan with roosts, nests, feed, and water so they are not pooping in them.

    We all have our favorite breeds. In reality about any will work for you as long as you take care of the basics. Try going through Henderson’s Breed Chart and look for some that you think might suit you, then go to Feathersite to see pictures. Look for breeds that are docile and take confinement well. Each chicken is an individual living animals and those don’t come with guarantees, but there are breed tendencies. That’s about the best you can do. There is nothing wrong with mixing breeds.

    Henderson’s Breed Chart
    http://www.sagehenfarmlodi.com/chooks/chooks.html
    Feathersite
    http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/BRKPoultryPage.html#Chickens
     
  3. BayBay Peepers

    BayBay Peepers Overrun With Chickens

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    You've received some pretty good advice here. I made myself a spreadsheet of all the breeds I was interested in. I weighed all the pros and cons and decided on Buff Orpingtons at first. Later I accumulated White Leghorns, and Black Australorps. The Orpingtons are my favorite. The Australorps are a close second. They are sweet, docile, friendly, and they don't seem bothered by being in the coop. I let them free range, but the last winter was so cold they stayed inside most of the time. The Leghorns lay the most eggs by far. So far they haven't missed a day. They're kinda quirky, but not as friendly. They also seem to be my coop trouble makers. No real issues, but enough to make me decide when these ones pass I won't go out of my way to get more. They bully on the roost where as my Opringtons and Australorps are quite content. Good luck :)
     
  4. Seesagirl

    Seesagirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Virginia

    Thank you for putting a name to what I want to do with the moat!! Now I know what to search for!!

    I could design the coop with several doors for multiple access so that I don't need to go in. I also plan to use pallet wood, so lumber dimensions are not a consideration.

    I will have nests inside, but it will mostly be for them to get out of the weather. We live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, so we have regular seasons, but we live in a 'holler', so all of our temps are slightly lower and our snows are deeper. We also are bordering the national park, so my husband's trail camera has picked up deer, bear, bobcat, and coyote. I'm thinking that the chickens will be confined to the run and coop mostly for safety, with occasional free runs in the yard. Side note: another research for this winter is a dog breed that will protect our chickens, our kids, and us, but not a breed that's basically a small pony, and will play well with the kids. At the moment I'm thinking border collie.

    I'm thinking that putting the feed outside the coop might be better, that way if an animal is attracted at night they might stop at the feed and not try to get into the coop, whereas if it was inside, they'd destroy the coop and move right on to the chickens. I know this won't keep animals out of the coop, but I was thinking every little bit helps lol! We will also have motion detector lights on the coop and other buildings.

    Thank you for the breed suggestions and sites! I will be checking into those later today! :)
     
  5. Wxguru

    Wxguru Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was looking for the same thing in breeds....and I am waiting on 3 Black Australorps, 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 1 Golden Comet
     
  6. BayBay Peepers

    BayBay Peepers Overrun With Chickens

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    Good choices :)
     
  7. Seesagirl

    Seesagirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you!! Now I know what to look up about the moat!!

    We plan to build the coop out of pallet wood, so lumber dimensions are not part of our calculations.

    I want to have nests inside, but I was thinking of having access doors for getting eggs, cleaning, etc, so that I don't have to go in if I don't want to. The girls will probably stay inside the coop for nesting and shelter and sleeping. I'll let them have the run of the run during the day, with an occasional free run into the yard. My husband set up a trail camera in the woods and so far between that and our own eyes, we know we have bear, deer, coyotes, bobcats, snakes...basically all the possible predators!! So I was thinking the food should be outside the coop, in the hopes that the coop and the girls would survive - hoping most baddies would stop at the food bin and leave the girls alone. We will have motion detector lights and a dog, as well. Another thing for me to research this winter. I want something good with kids that will protect me, the kids, and the chickens or other animals. Current vote is border collie.

    Thank you for the breed info and websites! I'll be checking them out ASAP!
     
  8. Wxguru

    Wxguru Chillin' With My Peeps

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    1 person likes this.
  9. Seesagirl

    Seesagirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Virginia
    Sorry about posting twice, the first time I responded it didn't appear to post. I even waited a few hours. Still didn't show, so I retyped and posted again. Could just be my tablet acting up.

    I'll try to update about my building experience with pallets, but I'm likely to forget until I've got months of updating to do! Ah well. Thanks again for this info!
     

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