open sided/closed up coop design and other questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by chickenshet, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. chickenshet

    chickenshet Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 20, 2011
    Hi there!

    I am new to the forum and very excited to build my first chicken coop. I have been scouring the forum's threads and learning so much so now I have a few questions:

    1) I have determined we want a raised coop with a construction cloth bottom to let the poop fall through. We live in the coastal San Diego area which is a zone 9 I think, so no frost. We have mild Winters and mild/warm Summers and I am wondering if I should design it open sided or solid with a window that can close?
    2) How cold is too cold for chickens to be with a bottom that is open all the time?
    3) I have a space that is 7'-0" long in which I would like to put the coop. If I am planning on having around 6 chickens, how wide should I make it?

    Thanks so much for you help!!
     
  2. Pequena Bandada

    Pequena Bandada Small Flock

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    From my experience, you might want to rethink that construction cloth bottom. The poop will not just run right through. Instead, you'll have clumps of poop build up on the wire and get all over your chicken's feet... and then on their feathers... and then on you. My husband built long boxes to put under our coop's roosts that we could pull out to discard the poop. He covered the boxes with hardware cloth thinking that the poop would go right through and the wire would prevent the chickens from walking in the poop. What ended up happening instead is the poop got stuck, the chickens got really dirty feet, and the larger chickens made the wire sag. It was a huge mess and we ditched the boxes after three weeks of trying unsuccessfully to make them work. Last but not least, it was pretty obvious that the chickens did not like to walk on the wire. They much prefer a solid floor and some shavings on top.
     
  3. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I also suggest you reconsider the wire floor "poop fall through" idea. It's great, in theory, but have you ever actually seen chicken droppings? They're a lot bigger than the droppings of parrots, doves or any other kind of indoor cage bird usually kept over wire with a droppings pan in the typical kind of bird cage. I have tiny bantams with droppings much smaller than a standard size chicken, and even small bantam poo won't fall through the openings in a wire cage bottom. You could choose wire with really large openings...say 1" by 2" but even that will catch some poo, and that kind of floor is very hard on a chicken's feet and is a predator risk, to boot. Critters can reach through openings that large or even bite a chicken's feet off.

    A droppings tray or board under the roost is in my opinion a much better way to manage the manure that collects all night. I use plastic boot trays that I dump out in our composter every morning. The poo rolls right off (for cecal poops, I use an old garden trowel to scrape), then I hose down the trays and return them clean and fresh to the coop. It takes all of 5 minutes.

    Oops, forgot your other questions.

    Sounds like you have neither extreme cold nor extreme heat to deal with, so you have a lot of flexibility in choosing coop design. Do read this excellent page, if you haven't already:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    Chickens can handle cold much better than they can handle heat as long as they have a dry place to get out of the wind. In the summer, a closed coop can get dangerously hot inside if it's in the sun all day, so you will also want to consider that as you site your coop.

    The usual guideline given is to allow at least 4 square feet per bird indoors (coop) plus 10 square feet per bird outdoors (run). I would not recommend going lower than this and would highly recommend allowing more room if possible. Not only will it be less stressful for the chickens, but it will make your life as a chicken keeper easier, too.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
  4. chickenshet

    chickenshet Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks so much for the responses on the hardware cloth. ok, scratch that idea! [​IMG] I am interested in these plastic boot trays; where can I find them? This sounds like it would work well for us as I am looking for ease of care and this sounds like it would be a good fit.
    As far as the coop dimensions, would a 7'-0" x 4'-0" be good for 6 chickens?
    I will check out the ventilation page as well. Thanks for the link!
     
  5. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I picked up my two small boot trays at The Container Store:

    http://www.containerstore.com/shop?productId=10007173&N=&Ntt=boot+tray

    I like these. They're very light and easy to maneuver out the door fully loaded with droppings. I also have a bigger boot tray I bought at Gardeners Supply:

    http://www.gardeners.com/large-boot-tray/31-286,default,pd.html

    This one fits exactly in the space in my small coop, but I'm using it now side by side with the smaller trays in my big coop. Honestly, I like the smaller trays better. This big one is a little unwieldy.

    You can find plastic boot trays lots of places. I think Walmart sells them, too.

    7' by 4' is only 28 square feet. That is ok as the coop for 6 chickens, but you'll also need to provide a larger space for them to spend their daylight hours: either build a run or allow them to free range and accept the risk of losses.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
  6. chickenshet

    chickenshet Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for posting the boot trays - I figure if I buy some now, I can design the roost area with those dimensions in mind. As for the size, yes, we are planning on making our run 7'-0" x 10'-0" or 11'-0" so hopefully they will be nice and happy there. [​IMG]
     

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