No clue what i'm doing.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Badhbh, Nov 16, 2007.

  1. Badhbh

    Badhbh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm getting chickens in the spring... i've been reading all sorts of things and planning and researching, but there's a few things i'm a little muddled on.
    The house i'm looking at is .77 acre. There's a 15x27 barn that's as old as the house (1926). Needless to say, the barn has seen batter days. It has a concrete floor, a hay loft, and lots of cracks between the boards. I'd like to divide it up with some light fencing, because I want chickens and goats. I was thinking that I could put the chicken area at one end, and the goats at the other. Here's where the questions come in..

    Do I need to cut a hole in the side of the barn to use as a pop hole? Can they use the existing door or is it too big?

    Do I need to put a coop in the barn, or can I mount nest boxes to the walls and have a whole area for them? Do the need a small space or would they be just as happy roosting all over the barn?

    There's an old fridge in the barn that i'm trying to think of a use for. I was thinking about taking off the door, and turning it into a coop type nesting box [​IMG] It'd be pretty easy to clean anyway.. opinions?

    Outdoors... do they need to be fenced in? I'd like to give them the majority of the land to roam on. I know for safetys sake they should be in a run, but i'm also thinking that they'd like to get out and scratch in the yard for a couple hours. How do you keep them in grass and bugs? Do you just build a really BIG run? What i'd ideally like to do is give them the run of the yard so they have more grass..

    Drafts.. as I said, the barn has cracks all in the walls. There's no giant holes in the walls or anything, but it's not exactly airtight yanno? Do I need to put plywood on the walls? Will half-inch cracks all around make it too cold? I'm in Kentucky, so it MIGHT get into the teens in the winter, but it's usually in the 20s in the coldest parts.

    I guess i'm trying to figure out how I can avoid having them too fenced and restrained, and at the same time keep them safe. I want chickens! I want happy chickens with grass and bugs! [​IMG]

    Badhbh, chicken novice

    OOH, one more thing.. i'd rather have pullets, but i've been hearing that the ladies are happier with a man around. Is this true?
     
  2. eggchel

    eggchel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    First, Welcome to BYC!


    Do I need to cut a hole in the side of the barn to use as a pop hole? Can they use the existing door or is it too big?

    They can use any door that you are willing to close at night to keep the predators out.

    Do I need to put a coop in the barn, or can I mount nest boxes to the walls and have a whole area for them? Do the need a small space or would they be just as happy roosting all over the barn?

    They do not require a small space, but they do require a space that is predator proof, especially at night. If you cant keep predators out of the large area then you could just use some good fencing wire (welded or hardware cloth, not chickenwire) to section off a night pen. If you have a lot of freezing weather then a smaller enclosed coop would be easy to insulate to keep them warm.

    There's an old fridge in the barn that i'm trying to think of a use for. I was thinking about taking off the door, and turning it into a coop type nesting box tongue It'd be pretty easy to clean anyway.. opinions?

    It could be made into a nesting area, but there are a couple other uses:
    Make it into an incubator.
    Or, use it to store your chicken feed to keep the mice out of it (not if you have a humidity problem, mold is toxic to chickens)

    Outdoors... do they need to be fenced in? I'd like to give them the majority of the land to roam on. I know for safetys sake they should be in a run, but i'm also thinking that they'd like to get out and scratch in the yard for a couple hours. How do you keep them in grass and bugs? Do you just build a really BIG run? What i'd ideally like to do is give them the run of the yard so they have more grass..

    Up to you as to whether you pen them or let them free range during the day, as long as you lock them up tight at night. If they are free ranged during the day you may have occasional losses due to daytime predators. You could also lose all of them in a heart beat if your property isnt fenced and there are stray dogs around. I keep my smaller and more valuable birds in pens and I let the larger birds and the regular layers go out to free range with the ducks and geese. It is more risky, but they gain so much good food that I take the risk.

    Drafts.. as I said, the barn has cracks all in the walls. There's no giant holes in the walls or anything, but it's not exactly airtight yanno? Do I need to put plywood on the walls? Will half-inch cracks all around make it too cold? I'm in Kentucky, so it MIGHT get into the teens in the winter, but it's usually in the 20s in the coldest parts.

    I cant help you too much with this since my weather usually only gets down to freezing a few times a year although many of my birds are in outdoor pens all year. I dont think your weather is so severe that you need to go to great lengths to keep them from becoming chickcicles.

    OOH, one more thing.. i'd rather have pullets, but i've been hearing that the ladies are happier with a man around. Is this true?

    No. [​IMG]


    Chel​
     
  3. mdbucks

    mdbucks Cooped Up

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    Quote:No. [​IMG]


    Chel

    I agree with most of the answers, but if your gonna free range I would have a roo around, the hens may not be happier, I think they could care less, but Roos keep a look out for hawks and such. He will not fight off dogs or anything, but will warn the hens when they need to get undercover and out of the center of the field.

    And I too say welcome to BYC
     
  4. wortgames

    wortgames Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:I think that's a case of balancing the overall number of grass-eating critters with the amount of grass you have. If you plan on having just a few chickens then you could probably let them have the run of the place without having to worry about it (predators aside). If you have a lot of chickens on a small space they'll scratch it bare in no time and you'll have to rely more on supplying feed.

    One thing though - I'm no expert, so I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I suspect the chickens would like to be in with the goats. They seem to like the company of other animals, especially if there's a chance of some 'ground disturbance' revealing fresh bugs. You might have to be careful with their feed though, goats will try to eat anything and some chicken feeds can be dangerous to ruminants (and possibly vice versa).
     
  5. Badhbh

    Badhbh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So much to respond to! Yay!

    They do not require a small space, but they do require a space that is predator proof, especially at night. If you cant keep predators out of the large area then you could just use some good fencing wire (welded or hardware cloth, not chickenwire) to section off a night pen. If you have a lot of freezing weather then a smaller enclosed coop would be easy to insulate to keep them warm.

    I'm thinking that if I can wire off the bottom of the barn, that would help a lot. It's fairly well closed to predators. The floor is concrete all over, and the cracke in the walls aren't big enough to let much more than a mouse in.

    If they are free ranged during the day you may have occasional losses due to daytime predators.

    So do I really have to worry about them wandering off? Or do they stick fairly close to home?
    I don't want to get a call because one of my chickens is out on the school playground, you know? [​IMG]

    Make it into an incubator.
    Or, use it to store your chicken feed to keep the mice out of it (not if you have a humidity problem, mold is toxic to chickens)

    Good idea about the incubator.
    Um.. we are talking about drilling air holes, right? [​IMG]

    I agree with most of the answers, but if your gonna free range I would have a roo around, the hens may not be happier, I think they could care less, but Roos keep a look out for hawks and such. He will not fight off dogs or anything, but will warn the hens when they need to get undercover and out of the center of the field.

    This makes sense.. and the kids already picked out rooster names (Col Sanders and Gen. Tso).
    Here's the thing about that though that i'm wondering.. i'm planning on having three different kinds of chickens. I'm assuming that the rooster will go after whatever lady is amenable to it.. and then i'll get weird chickens [​IMG] And are they *really* loud enough that my neighbors will want to kill me in my sleep?

    goats will try to eat anything and some chicken feeds can be dangerous to ruminants (and possibly vice versa).

    This, I didn't know. I'll talk to my local feed store guy and see what he can advise. I may wind up feeding the chickens outside the goat fence.

    I'm thinking a fence for the goats, with a pop hole for the chickens, so they can come and go out of the yard. I'll leave the barn door open during the day so they can all come and go. This just may work out...

    Thanks for the welcomes!

    Badhbh​
     
  6. Windy Ridge

    Windy Ridge Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi and welcome to BYC!

    Just a couple things I was thinking of as I was reading:

    If a mouse can get in, a snake might be able to, as well. Most snakes won't bother fully grown chickens, but they will eat eggs and chicks. I'm picturing your barn the same way mine is: they build it with rough lumber, and as it ages, it sort of shrinks a bit, leaving cracks between the boards. If that's the way yours is, the traditional way to take care of those cracks is with battens. (Board and batten construction, it's called). Basically, battens are thin, inexpensive pieces of wood that you nail up over the cracks to account for shrinking lumber.

    [​IMG]

    In my area it can get quite cold, and I would be concerned that being in a (possibly) breezy coop might make it more difficult for the birds to stay warm; I don't know if that's a concern for you or not. A lot of it can depend on the site of your barn/coop area, too. I'm on top of a ridge and it is very windy up here.

    It's just something to consider... it might be inexpensive to do one part of the barn.

    A final warning: CHICKENS ARE ADDICTIVE.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. TxChiknRanchers

    TxChiknRanchers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No clue what i'm doing

    Sounds like you have a clue to me. YES there is a lot to learn but some of it you will only learn by doing trial and error. IF you live next door to a school and you free range, you WILL get that call. They increase range as they get more comfortable with their surroundings. IF you do everything you possibly can to predator proof your old barn you STILL may have some losses. If it is possible for a predator to get in they will, just do a search about predators here and you will see. Or ask folks like aran, and silkiechicken, and several others who thought their coops were safe. Stuff happens it is inevitable. Sometimes it is something you missed, like leaving a gate open, or a coop door unlatched. Then again it may be something you never dreamed of. Not to scare you just to enlighten you! A very wise man once told me that goats spend their entire lives trying to commit suicide, Hell it may apply to chickens too for all I know
    Wish you luck with the chickens.



    Ohh and welcome , remember the only dumb question is the one you dont ask, we all are learning as we go here

    Randy​
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2007
  8. Badhbh

    Badhbh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There's a picture here. Looking through the pictures again, there are a couple of pretty wide cracke back in the back of the barn... the whole thing is very Blair Witch to be honest. The battening sounds like the way to go [​IMG]
     
  9. Windy Ridge

    Windy Ridge Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Very pretty barn! It is constructed more or less like mine, but you're lucky with the cement floor.... that means nothing will be digging in!
     
  10. Badhbh

    Badhbh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    IF you live next door to a school and you free range, you WILL get that call.

    Good thing my kids will be going there [​IMG] It's right across the street. They can bring the chickies home [​IMG]

    One last thing.. I know Guineas will raise a fuss if someone/thing comes in the coop- is that another option for an early warning system? And just how loud ARE they? I was thinking of getting two. Will the neighbors hate me forever? I remember my Granny had them when I was a kid (lovely pearl gray guineas) and they were MEAN! They'd chase you off the property. I don't remember the noise though. This isn't a suburb or anything, there's plenty of land surrounding us.. there's just a few houses right here all clumped together on the outskirts of the town.​
     

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