Planning Questions

oregonn8v

In the Brooder
9 Years
Feb 28, 2010
14
0
22
Portland, OR
As is evident from my New Egg identifier but even more from the following questions, I am hoping to get some recommendations. We are at the early stages of adding some hens to our family. I am doing research now and would like to get started on building my coop in the next few weeks. I am planning on using as much reclaimed material as I can but I have a few general questions about terminology and design that I am hoping you can all help me out with.

If I understand correctly, a nesting box is where the hens will lay their eggs. Do you need a nesting box for each hen or will they share? Let's assume I have 6 hens, how many nesting boxes will I need?

What is a roost and what is its purpose? I know... lame question.

I have seen mention of handing food and water. How is this done and why is it done?

I have seen pictures with nesting boxes build inside the main framing of the coop and others where the nesting boxes are suspended outside the main structure. Is one design better than another? What are some good features to think about when installing a nesting box so that eggs can be easily retrieved and boxes kept clean?

What is the preferred design to be able to clean the coop and the run? Is it best to install some sore of metal catch tray under the coop that can be slid out or do folks generally just sweep out the coops on a regular basis?

I know this is a lot of questions and I am sure I will have more as the project gets going. I will be sure to take photos and post them as things progress.

Thanks is advance for any advise!

Eric
 

patandchickens

Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
12,520
335
341
Ontario, Canada
Hi, welcome to BYC!
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If I understand correctly, a nesting box is where the hens will lay their eggs. Do you need a nesting box for each hen or will they share? Let's assume I have 6 hens, how many nesting boxes will I need?

Usually people offer one nest box per 3-4 hens -- for 6, you'd want 2 boxes or 1 larger one. Typically they will want to all use the same box anyhow, sometimes two at a time, that's just the way chickens are
tongue.png


What is a roost and what is its purpose? I know... lame question.

It is the "perch" that they sleep on. But remember chickens are really ground-dwelling birds, biologically, not perchers like sparrows or parrots, so they prefer a wide-ish flattish thing, like a 2x4 or a 4-6" diameter tree branch (remove the bark first for easier cleaning). It needs to be mounted higher than the nestboxes, because chickens instinctively prefer to roost on the highest object possible, and if the nestbox is the highest (or among the highest) some will sleep in there and get the nestbox all POOEY, leading to pooey eggs.

I have seen mention of handing food and water. How is this done and why is it done?

Hanging, you mean? It prevents them from being tipped over (especially in a crowded coop, chickens are not always the most graceful critters, also they tend to like to sit atop feeders or waterers and poo on them or tip them over). However, hanging feeders/waterers are prone to swing and spill, and most waterers are not structurally designed for fulltime hanging (the handle is usually just for you to carry it with) so it is best IMHO to put them up on blocks, pretty high so the hens can just reach them, and use any 'hanging' chain just as a defense against roosting and tipping.

I have seen pictures with nesting boxes build inside the main framing of the coop and others where the nesting boxes are suspended outside the main structure. Is one design better than another? What are some good features to think about when installing a nesting box so that eggs can be easily retrieved and boxes kept clean?

All things being equal, I strongly believe that exterior nestboxes are a weak design and a poor idea. They are much more aggravation to construct and no matter what you do they just ARE a perpetual weak point where weather and predators can potentially get in. And you gain NOTHING from exterior nestboxes in a normal walk-in coop... if you want easy egg collection from outside the coop, it can be done much better by building interior nestboxes with a little 'hatch' door in the wall so you can reach through.

HOWEVER, in a very tiny and low coop where floor space is at a premium and nestboxes cannot (because of coop size) be raised enough above the floor to let chickens walk below them, exterior nestboxes are a great way of gaining more space. Except for this one specialized instance, though, I would strongly recommend against them (again, use interior boxes with an outside access hatch if you want to collect eggs without entering the coop)

What is the preferred design to be able to clean the coop and the run? Is it best to install some sore of metal catch tray under the coop that can be slid out or do folks generally just sweep out the coops on a regular basis?

All different ways of doing it. If it is a walk-in size coop, most people will either do nothinga nd just clean the floor as needed, or put droppings boards or a droppings pit under the roost and clean the floor as needed. Personally I am a BIG fan of a droppings board cleaned every morning, takes LITERALLY 10 seconds and produces great dividends in terms of air quality and coop cleanliness. But other systems may suit other situations.

Good luck, have fun,

Pat​
 

oregonn8v

In the Brooder
9 Years
Feb 28, 2010
14
0
22
Portland, OR
patandchickens:

Thanks for all the helpful feedback. The coop and adjoining pen I am planning will be 8' x 4' with the coop elevated about 3' off the ground and taking up approximately 4' x 4' (external measurements). With 2x4 construction, insulation and interior sheeting it will be closer to 3'4" x 3'4" or approx 11 sq. ft. We are hoping to have about 4-6 hens and with a 4 sq. ft. recommendation per hen we would need to have 16 - 24 sq. ft. I am concerned that I will need to make the coop larger. Any thoughts? I have the physical space to go larger but the current plan is why I am considering the external nests. I am looking for a way to gain more space inside the coop.

Eric
 

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