Newbie to the BYC world looking for some tips


In the Brooder
8 Years
Mar 7, 2011
My wife and I are looking into joining the world of Back Yard Chickeneering and I think I've settled in on a design that I like. I'll be building an ark much like this one (Sorry, apparently new members can't link to outside URLs so here: W W W DOT amazon DOT com/Large-Chicken-Coop-Portable-Hens/dp/B0037QUNJ2/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1299521152&sr=8-4 )

but have a few questions: I think my overall dimensions will be slightly larger in every dimension, but I'm gonna keep it small enough to fit on my 5x8 utility trailer in case I ever move or sell it.

1: How many linear inches of roost space do I need for 4-5 hens?

2: That design doesn't look to have much ventilation so I was planning on leaving one end "open" with screening and drilling some vent holes (maybe 3 holes 2-3" in diam each) in the top of the eaves on the end with nest boxes.

3: Are 2 nest boxes enough for 4-5 hens?

4: With this sort of design, is it ok for the food and water to be in the run area below the coop? I'd hate to give up indoor real estate if I don't have to. We live in central NC and our winters are fairly mild. Not sure at this point if we will keep the chickens over winter or just eat them and start over again in the spring.

5: Should the floor of the coop area be solid or is it ok to use a welded wire floor so the poo falls to the ground. If so, what size wire is ideal for that? I will be using welded wire across the bottom of the run to keep critters from digging under but I'm guessing that wire could be a bit wider than I would use on the floor of the coop

I want to keep the design light enough to be moveable by hand. In regards to the removeable side panels, I think given the heat here in July-August, maybe 1 side will have screening that can be covered on rainy or cold days and all cleaning will be done from the other side. Should I include a mount for a lightbulb in my design for warmth or do the chickens generate enough heat that it's a non-issue? Or should I just use a CFL bulb to give them light (I think I read somewhere that they won't be as productive if they don't get enough light each day)
We are thinking about getting 2 hens to begin with and then maybe the Easter bunny could bring a couple of chicks for my kids. 6: Will it be difficult to bring new birds into the coop after they have been in there alone for a couple of months? (We will keep the chicks separate in a small cage until they feather out).
It's hard to process all of the info out there and I apologize if I've been a bit long-winded
Thanks in advance
Also, what would be a good height above ground for the bottom of the coop so the chickens have ample room in the "run"? I was thinking 20-24"

I don't know much about buliding, but be patient.. There's alot of super smart people on this forum.

Why don't you try looking at coop designs here on BYC?

Also there's this thing called chicken math, make room for more... You may get addicted, cause there's soo many different kind
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1. You'll want at least 10 inches of roost per LF bird, many give a foot. *** roosts in triangular shaped coops can be a challenge - you will really have to look at the height/width of the housing, because head-room often becomes a big issue.
2. More ventilation is always better, especially in areas that get hot summers. You can always close off some w/tarps or "shutters" in winter time.
3. Yes
4. Yes...and since it's under the sheltered part, your feed most likely won't get rained in...
5. Personally, I would not do a wire floor - hard on chickens feet. And if you're keep food and water under there, obviously that will be pooed in as well. Wire small enough for chickens to walk around on comfortably will most likely NOT allow most of the poo to fall through anyhow.
6. If you got more chicks later on, you would need to keep them separate for quite a while, until they were at least almost as large as the bigger birds (maybe 14-16 weeks). That can be a pain. I would consider getting them all at the same time, either as chicks or as point of lay. Integrations are difficult, even moreso in confined spaces.

Not sure about the wire side panel you're talking that on the run??? On the shelter? On both? Whatever you decide, make it easy access for cleaning.
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I am having a new coop built which is two feet above ground level. That should be your minimum - consider how difficult it otherwise might be to crawl under the coop to get a chicken out, or gather eggs one decided to lay there.

One linear foot per chicken on roost bars. They will roost closer than that, but they need landing and settling space.

Two nest boxes are perfect; generally you need one for each four chickens.

I haven't fed or watered my chickens in their coops except when they were confined to them. If you will have a secure run, then water and food underneath the coop is fine. Small birds and mice will still get to the feed, though. (Yes, I am feeding mice with my set up, but it hasn't turned into an infestation. Yet.)

I don't like wire floors, so I have nothing to suggest in that regard.

It is easier to raise everybody together at once, because the pecking order is upset and has to be re-worked with any change of location or addition of new flock members.
. I only know a few answers to your questions. One is the first one--10 inches per chicken for the roost. The second thing is just an observation. We got our chickens last March. Their eggs took a while to get to a decent size, they started off small. They didn't even start laying until the end of September and then through the winter they slowed way down. My point is if you eat the chickens in the winter you just have to start all over with babies and all that feed before they start to lay. Just saying. Good luck!

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