Philosophical Question Regarding Coop Build

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by we3ernes, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. we3ernes

    we3ernes Songster

    Jan 2, 2013
    China Spring, Texas
    So we are soooo close to the point where we can build a coop and get chicks (in that order). We have 11 acres of land outside Waco (central Texas) and can do pretty much what we want to (number of birds, type of setup). Therein lies the problem. I can do almost ANYTHING and I can’t seem to settle on what we SHOULD build. I’ve read sooo much that I am experiencing paralysis by analysis.

    So the main question is this - would it be better to build something cheap and temporary till we figure out exactly what works for us? Or is it better to do it right the first time (and in that case how do we figure what is “right” for us)?

    Our goals:
    - To raise chickens for eggs, compost, insect control, and eventually meat (not ready for butchering yet)
    - To build a coop and secure run for late mornings/vacations, but free range most of the time
    - To have a coop that responds well to the central Texas climate (summers in the triple digits, winters dropping to an occasional 20 degrees
    - To create a coop that is easy to care for both daily and long term
    - Chickens as a portion of a homestead with orchard, vineyard, goats, garden, and bees

    I keep drawing up plans and they get larger and more elaborate as I think of all the recommendations I’ve read here (place to store supplies, place to brood/quarantine birds, double the space you think you’ll need for “chicken math”, etc.) and then I end up with a chicken palace and then go back to the drawing board to starting over.

    Some things about me, I used to be an architect so I can follow plans, sketch up, and napkin drawings with equal ease, I own and can operate almost home shop tool. My budget isn’t unlimited (or I’d just go by a Carolina Coop), but is probably adequate for materials for anything I can dream up.
  2. Chad Oftedal

    Chad Oftedal Songster

    Dec 29, 2017
    Woodinville, WA
    My Coop
    So, if it were me, with your list above and I had your expertise as an architect, I'd probably do this
    • Build a stand-up coop that you can easily walk in - I've done that for mine, and I'm so glad I listened to the advice here to do that, even though it is just a simple 8x8
    • Build a stand-up run that you can easily walk in - yep, same reasons as the first bullet point. Make it good and predator proof, etc.
    • The storage is a great idea. I recently went over to help a friend out who had purchased a home that came with a chicken coop on the land. All in all, it was a pretty decent coop. They had about 25 percent of the space inside sectioned off in a closet type area for storage, and I thought that was really neat. Not specialized, but just raw space with a few shelves that you could probably store almost any supplies in there that you wanted.
    • OK, here's the rub - with your skills, I'd design something that was fully self contained to get you started, but set you up for the future as a "base" if you wanted to expand. So, you'd design it to handle x number of chickens now to start. You get your feet under you, learn some things you like/don't like, but you lay it out on your land/design it so that you can easily knock down a wall to expand it out, or maybe make it a brooder area if you want to raise chicks. Maybe it even becomes the meat chicken coop, and you build a new one for laying hens.
    Anyway, I sometimes suffer from the same thing that you describe - trying to get it perfectly right the first time. When building mine - as super happy as I am with it - I had to realize that there will just be some things that I'll discover could have been done differently. I think the advantage that you have is your skills at planning, and you could fold in whatever you build to start with to be a component of a bigger setup some day. And, if you don't get to that point of expansion, you'll have a very functional coop to enjoy. For those reasons, I wouldn't go temporary if it were me. I can't stand throw away work that I know will just be temporary. I've seen too many cases in my field in software where "temporary" became permanent because of timelines. I would rather do scoped down in size, but well designed than the "good enough for now" build. But, that's just my personal hangup, I don't begrudge others that can make that work.
  3. ChickenRelatedUserName

    ChickenRelatedUserName Songster

    Mar 28, 2018
    Colorado (5b)
    Well, no matter what you build, they are still going to spend most of their time taking a dump on every part of it, so just keep that in mind before you go looking for that perfect crown molding to conceal your accent lighting around the ceiling.

    That said, I built a coop about twice as big and elaborate than I probably needed (it's still small and simple compared to others I've seen on here), so I understand your struggle. As suggested above, if you're going to over build anything, do it in the name of security or ease of function.
  4. New2Chicks97

    New2Chicks97 Songster

    Jul 3, 2018
    Washington State
    I spent hours trying to figure out what we wanted to build. Only to have my husband get put on overtime for 2 months and have no time to be at her me to help build anything. So we ended up with a coop kit because the chicks needed to get out of my house!

    But the good news is that the money wasn’t wasted. The coop works and will be good for a brooder coop in the future. And of course I have learned a lot about what I want in a coop I build.
    1. Must be able to stand up inside the coop and run. Being hunched over cleaning, feeding & watering isn’t ideal.
    2. The roosts must be higher than the nesting boxes or they use the nesting boxes for sleeping/roosting.
    3. My chickens prefer a covered cave like nesting boxes.
    4. I need to make the run big enough to allow for multiple functions (roosting, dust baths, feed/water, and outside nesting spots)
    5. I also need to make it big enough for future growth because I have found more breeds I want to have.

    Good luck building your coop.
    RedDirtRambler, MROO and we3ernes like this.
  5. k2panman

    k2panman Chirping

    Aloha we3ernes, we are in the same stage you are - been reading hundreds of post here, making dozens of sketches. I am planning to build something permanent.

    I agree with Chad Oftedal - build something permanent, I hate to waste my time on temporary projects. I think Chad gave you a lot of excellent advice!
  6. PetesChicks

    PetesChicks Songster

    Aug 21, 2016
    Southbridge, MA
    In your climate you might want to think about a 3 sided coop, with the fourth side being open (with hardware cloth for security, of course). Remember - chicken wire is only good for keeping chickens contained, any decent sized predator (coons, coyotes, dogs, etc) will tear it apart. Search “open air coop” and you will get plenty of ideas. One popular open air coop is the Woods coop.

    Also, everyone else is right about walk in coops. They are a lot easier to deal with than small coops.

    Glad to see someone planning a coop before the chickens hatch! Good luck!
  7. Dmontgomery

    Dmontgomery Songster

    Apr 1, 2014
    Longville, La
    Build the biggest, most secure coop you can afford at this time. Do it right the first time so you aren’t making emergency corrections after you have the chickens.
    Incorporate any of the suggestions you have seen on BYC that you really like, but realize that you are going to make changes on a regular basis. You will find that what works for other people, may not work for you. I’m never completely satisfied with my setup and I usually make additions or renovations a couple times a year.
    Build BIG. If you are new to raising chickens, you don’t understand yet just how addictive it is. We started with only 6 a few years ago. We have 62 right now. And that’s down from over 70 last year. It’s much easier to raise them in a space where there is too much room, than not enough room.
    I think a lot of people use separate coops for meat birds and layers. I personally don’t like the taste of chickens. Ours die from old age or predators only.
    All the coops I’ve built are 3 sided because of the heat down here. It’s a lot easier to pile up hay bales to keep the coop warm during our 2 weeks of winter, than it is to cut out a wall for ventilation in the summer. Just don’t leave the open side to the north.
    Good luck and stop stressing. It’s supposed to be fun.
    MROO, jthornton, we3ernes and 3 others like this.
  8. IamRainey

    IamRainey Songster

    Aug 22, 2017
    Los Angeles (Woodland Hills)
    If I had the space and the money I'd go for it! Build your poultry palace and enjoy it!

    Being in SoCal and dealing with triple-digit heat myself here are the considerations I'd have:

    • locate your coop in as much shade as possible and plant even more trees for the future.
    • plan for electricity and water because you will want both
    • install a ceiling fan at least in the coop and possibly a couple in the run as well
    • plan a covered run but I'd also put a second larger reflective roof over the principle one with a gap for air circulation between them
    • put a shallow cement trough with a water spigot down the center of your run and line it with porous cement blocks that can absorb water and act as evaporative coolers
    • if you have 11 acres and aren't going to be able to wander out to your coop a few times a day -- particularly in the summer when things can get critical fast -- I'd have everything on timers
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  9. mrs_organized_chaos

    mrs_organized_chaos Songster

    May 13, 2018
    Either build bigger than you need or make it easy to expand in the future. I also suggest look at what will be most useful to you. There are some beautiful coops out there but realistically the chickens will poop on everything so make it easy to clean. My chickens are only in the coop at night and if the weather isn’t desireable, otherwise, they prefer to be out in the run from sun up to sun down.
    MROO, Dr.GarryTTucker and we3ernes like this.
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Chad hit all the nails on the head, but especially this one:
    Design a building and run that can be extended fairly easily. Start with space for a dozen or two chickens.

    Boy, I get that one! I spent 6 months reading here and adjusting a cadd model and drawings before building anything. I avoided a lot of mistakes that way, but it was mind bending. Tho any designer kind of enjoys that part and it can be hard to get off the screen and cut some wood!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: