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? on new coop and # of chickens...and building material

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by imzadi, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. imzadi

    imzadi Chirping

    Sep 19, 2012
    Hi all...

    I'm going to be building a coop this spring so I can expand my flock. I currently have 11 chickies and would like upwards of 25 or 30. They will be free range. I thought that I had read that if you free range, your coop should allow 12 - 18 inches per bird. So..., my idea of an 8 x 10 coop, salt box type, tall enough for me to stand in...should be plenty big.

    Here is the plan of the coop that I am interested in building...the very last one


    I found this in "Chicken" magazine (from hobby farm). What I'm confused about is...according to the narrative associated with this coop, it is best for a SMALL FLOCK of a dozen birds...but...it's 8 x 10 feet!

    Building material...I'm not a builder so...these may be dumb questions:

    1. Windows: the plan has windows already in it...but...can I purchase the cheap (or free) windows that you can find on craig's list...and then work the plan around it?

    2. Insulation: i DO want to insulate...so I don't need to heat the coop...what do you all suggest...cheap but works well. I am thinking that rigid foam stuff...that comes in a rigid panel.

    anyway...any help would be welcome.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013

  2. chickentooth

    chickentooth In the Brooder

    Dec 30, 2012
    Hartland, Michigan
    Are you planning on building te outside wall and then covering the inside with wood that is the way i built mine. I filled the airspace between the the outside and inside panels with regular house isulation the pink fluffly stuff. As far as the foam the only problem is covering it, if you don't cover it the chickens for some reason love to eat foam.

    The windows can be what ever you want, just make a space for them and frame them in with 2x4, you don't have to have any special windows.

    An insulated coop is great because when it gets cold it doesn't take much heat to keep it warm. Don't think of it like keeping the cold out, it really holds the heat in. As far as space goes the more the better, and 8x10 is pretty darn big for a coop so you'll be good there.

    I hope i helped, good luck to you.
  3. Smithyard Farm

    Smithyard Farm Songster

    Apr 15, 2012
    Pembroke NH
    I think 12-18 inches per bird is a bit small. You might find it over-crowded, which may lead to pecking and them beating each other up. Alot of people will go 2 feet, and some will recomend 4. If you are in warmer climate, and the birds will be out all day, then you can probably get away with a smaller coop. However, everyone that goes small, seems to want to expand (even you!) Based on your link, I am assuming you are doing the shed type one? perhaps make the nest boxes on the outside to allow more floor room. and yes, windows can be worked around. I used plexiglass and made my own. Much cheaper... .
    Mine is not insulated, but I was looking at the foam you can buy in sheets and put plywood over it. A coop I saw at Agway had that stuff that was backed with a silvery finish (looked like reynolds wrap) not sure about how the birds will do pecking at it. I saw plans that show it covered with another sheet of plywood, or paneling.

    Good luck!
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I don’t believe in magic numbers for chickens, space or anything else. We keep them in so many different conditions, with different flock make-ups, in different climates, for different goals, with different management techniques that there cannot be one right answer that suits us all.

    Chickens have developed ways to live together pretty peacefully in a flock. A lot of these ways involve the weaker running away from the stronger or avoiding them to start with. They need sufficient room to run away or avoid. So I do think more space is better.

    It really doesn’t matter if the space is in the coop, coop and run, or if they totally free range and sleep in trees. Total space available when they are awake is what counts. How much do they need? See my first paragraph. It varies.

    What you are proposing can work if the proper stars align. If you just use the coop as a safe place for them to sleep and lay eggs and they have access to other space all their waking time, it should work really well. But if you leave then locked up some, say you want to sleep in on a Saturday instead of getting up at the crack of dawn, you could have a problem. Could, not necessarily will. There is often a difference in what can happen and what absolutely without a shadow of a doubt will happen.

    If you commit to a specific way of managing your chickens and something happens where it doesn’t work out, you don’t have much flexibility in responding to emergencies. Some examples:

    A fox took one of my free ranging chickens. I left them locked in the coop and run for a month until the fox learned there was not a free easy meal here. Then I let then free range again. It was two years before I lost another to a fox.

    Someone dropped two big (100 pound range) dogs out in the country for the good life. They killed 8 of my chickens. I left the survivors locked in the coop and run until I could eliminate the problem.

    I have had hens hide a nest outside the coop. I leave them all locked in the coop and run until they get in the habit of laying in the nest boxes instead of hiding a nest.

    Sometimes during integration I let one group roam and keep another locked up. I have room and flexibility so I can do this.

    When I have a broody hen, I let her raise the chicks with the flock. If space were tight, her work would be harder.

    When I go to see my granddaughter, I get a neighboring college aged girl to take care of my chickens. If she doesn’t show up until late morning to let them out, no big deal. I have enough room in my coop that they won’t kill each other if they are left in there.

    Many people clean their coop out really regularly. I hardly ever clean mine. I do have a droppings board that I clean every one to three weeks, depending on how many chickens I have and how bad it gets. The more space you provide the less hard you generally have to work.

    I’m a big proponent of giving them lots of space because it makes my life easier and gives me more flexibility in managing them.

    What you are proposing may work depending on your unique situation and management techniques, but personally I’d give them a lot more space.

    There is no magic way to build a coop either. I personally like the bigger walk-in types so I can work in there easier, but I have several chickens. You can use about anything for windows, depending on what you want the window to do. If it is just light, all you have to do is build a frame and set in a piece of Plexiglas. If you want ventilation too, it gets more complicated. There is no right or wrong way, just the way that suits you.

    I don’t know where you live or how cold or hot it actually gets. Some people live in Alaska or Canada and don’t insulate their coops. They don’t heat them either. But some people do. It depends on what your unique conditions are and how you build the coop. There is no right answer or wrong answer, just the one that fits your unique situation.

    Heat is normally more of a danger to your chickens than cold, again depending on where you live and how you build your coop. For many of us insulation is more important in keeping the coop cool than keeping it warm. Chickens will eat insulation, so you need to cover it if you install it.

    I know I have not given any cookbook you have to do it this way answers. I don’t know nearly enough about your unique situation to be able to.
    1 person likes this.
  5. imzadi

    imzadi Chirping

    Sep 19, 2012
    I love all the information! I am finding that you learn as you go...depending on your situation and what the GIRLS LIKE! It is, after all...all about them :)

    Anyway, yes..the plan is to have outside wall (3/4 inch plywood) insulation...inside wall (1/4 inch plywood...I think)...
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I don’t think it is all about them at all. I think if you make it easy for you, you automatically make it good for them. I believe you should pamper yourself by making it easier for you. If you do that, the chickens are better off.

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