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open air coop finalizing design pros and cons

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by floridagramps1, Dec 13, 2011.

  1. floridagramps1

    floridagramps1 In the Brooder

    Dec 13, 2011
    I am finalizing design for an 8x10 coop for 12 hens that I will build for 3 grandsons this Christmas. Los Gatos CA location has no snow and almost never freezing weather.The info in this forum has been very very useful since I am starting w zero experience. Info I have read suggests open air design is highly desirable for healthy chickens. My thinking is have large screened windows approximately 6 feet long by 3 feet tall located high up on the 2 long walls (10 foot dimension)of my coop. The 4 foot section not open to air will be the roosting area. Don't want the girls exposed to drafts or wind driven rain at night!

    Do you think it would be desirable to build the coop w extended eves.......perhaps extend them 18 inches from top of wall to minimize any rain penetrating into the coop.....or will this make the coop too dark. The coop will have an elec outlet and lights on a timer. There will also be an automatic door to chicken run on a timer.

    I will build a roosting ladder w rungs at 4 levels and will place a poop collecting tray under the roost. Intend to cover this w 3 inches of sand and use kitty litter scoop every couple days.Remainder of coop will use deep litter approach. We have many red wood chips.........will these be good for deep litter in coop and run? Five nesting boxes in the roosting area will be accessible from outside the coop for egg removal

    The run will be A-frame construction 16 feet long and 7 feet tall. The end that attaches to coop will have 8 feet of shingled roof and additional roost ladder for birds that want to snooze in shade during the day. The run will be covered in heavy duty mesh as we have many predators to worry about incl fox,coyote and bobcat. I will mount the A-frame run on pressure treated 6x6s and lag them together so as to be immovable. Will also put hardware cloth under 6x6 that extends 18 inches outside the run to totally thwart all burrowing predators. Plan on a heavy duty 5 foot access door to run built w 2x4s and hardware mesh. My daughter plans to let birds free range during the day for a couple hours several times a week. She has lots of acreage and will probably add Premier electronet fencing that is about 150 feet long to corral birds during free ranging outings. She is getting Americauna (sp?) hens that lay blue eggs. There will probably be some interesting times when hens fly over fence or don't return to coop at dusk. Will dim red light in coop attract hens to return to roosts in coop at sunset?

    To finish it off, we will add a dutch door to coop and flower boxes under the window. I will post pictures during construction Christmas week. Any comments or suggestions before I get started will be appreciated. I leave Florida for CA on 12/20

  2. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    Don't know about the red light, people usually lock them in the coop for a few days and this teaches them where home is so they'll return on their own after that. Be sure the solid wall is north, though you've already thought of that I'm sure. As for the roost, mine prefer to roost in front of the windows so that's where mine is.

    Mine is similar to yours in that it has an open front and the east and west has large windows in them. In winter I have a plexiglass cover for the west window, the one they roost at. Your prevailing winter winds generally come from the north and west, so those two sides being covered in winter is good. In summer, the cooling breezes normally come from the south and east. So the rest of the year it's fine just open. In fact probably best with them in the open window because of the extreme summer heat. Keeps them in a breeze if there is one. Places like you're talking about, winter drafts aren't a concern so much as summer heat is. Much more important to plan for the heat than for the cold unless my geography is way off.

    I'd put the extended eave out like you mention. It won't make it too dark and besides, you say you're putting a light in anyway.

    Sounds like it'll be a really nice coop!
  3. above is very good advice. slight drafts are not horrible things as long as they are above about 70. Its the cool drafts that will put a chicken down in a hurry. The solid wall on the north and west is almost a necessity. Not only would I do deep over hangs...I would probably go even deeper than that. You want the shade in the coop. as soon as sun rises they will all be lined up at the pop door waiting on it to open. They will only be in there to sleep or to get a shade break. If I were in your area, placing my windows as high as possible (like you said) is a good idea. You want the eves to block most of the sun and prevents the green house effect. This also allows your ventilation at the top where you need it the most. Air movement at the top will automatically pull cool air from the bottom. Even though you are doing an open coop, you can still get heat trapped at the top and a slight green house effect. Chickens take the cold extremely well (except for drafts)...not the heat.
    Red light wont help, they will learn where they live. It is a very strong instinct for a chicken to return to a familiar area to roost. Mine can be half an acre away and 15 minutes before sunset here they come all in a line back to the coop. Never ceases to amuse me, LOL
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2011
  4. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    I'm in Florida, and we have some nights that go into the 20's, but not many. I have some chickens that will sleep in the pen no matter what, even in the rain, they do not want to sleep in the coop. I think the open air coop is great, aside from the shed/coop that they're in now, the next ones I build will be all open air. I would use the overhang, keeps the rain off, and helps with the heat during the summer.

    In the summer, it's too hot inside the enclosed coop. That's my concern and open air would be much better. As long as it's strong.
  5. arcatamarcia

    arcatamarcia Songster

    Sep 24, 2009
    I'm also in Northern CA. I would say yes, you want to have eves. With the open walls, it won't be too dark and the protection from the rain is more important. I also think the wood chips are not absorbent enough to be on the floor of the coop or the run. Personally, I would suggest sand all around.
  6. welasharon

    welasharon Songster

    Jun 28, 2010
    North Florida
    I'm in North Florida and went with open air pens....the whole thing is basically the coop. Solid wall on the back side and a short piece on the adjoining side to give protection to roost and nest areas. The rest of the walls are all hardware cloth. Tops are covered. Much prefer sand. My over hangs are inadequate but it is what it is for now. In sub freezing times I cover the walls with plastic on all but the front.
  7. revmichael

    revmichael In the Brooder

    Sep 3, 2013
    I'm in Florida, Tampa area, and am building a raised open air design, 2 FT off the ground with 1 inch hardware cloth, doing 1/2 inch for floor, front is open but with a hinged door made from a fence section this faces north, in back yard behind house, I close it at night or during stormy weather, small coop for 4 hens, 4 x 3, other walls also hinged to open, makes cleaning easier when needed, going to change 1 or both side walls to be like the front where they can be sealed up if needed, even screened sections will be removable to make cleaning easier, run will be all hardware cloth as well with open ground, thought it would get too hot with it being closed up here in Florida so I adjusted my plans to allow more airflow then saw this post as well as others about open air designs, guess a higher power was lending me a hand lol

  8. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    Hi. Open air is the way to go in Florida, i'm 30 miles north of Tampa. Mine don't get bothered by rain or cold. It's the heat, and I keep a fan blowing on the nests all day.

    I don't think there are any cons to a open air coop here. I have just finished 4 pens that have a roof, and a roost under the roost, a dog house for the hens to lay their eggs. Everything else is open.

    I have one coop that's attached to an open hardware pen that's rat proof so far. And one other that's 1/2 of the shed inside with a pen attached but not secure. That one's in the sun all day and is about 100-105 degrees in there even with a big fan. It's awful. My 4 open pens have shade all day.

    My one advice is to build under a tree or something because there really is a big difference.
  9. Weasleymum

    Weasleymum Songster

    Aug 1, 2008
    If you're in California, you should check out this book:


    All of the coops in it are in northern CA. I read it at the bookstore but didn't buy b/c the open-air designs didn't work so well for my climate, but if I lived in a milder clime, I'd do something like these authors did.
  10. revmichael

    revmichael In the Brooder

    Sep 3, 2013
    It will get morning sun and shade in the afternoon, its under an oak and the trunk helps shade it in the afternoon, have to work on the run when it rains it doesn't drain right away, some standing water for about an hour

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