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please critique this old coop!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by midwife mama, Mar 3, 2009.

  1. midwife mama

    midwife mama Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 1, 2009
    montana
    Hi there,
    I am new here, and to the world of chicken rearing, and cannot wait to get my coop up and running! We moved onto a piece of property that has an old coop that once housed chickens. As you cam see, the coop needs some help! The run is huge, and is entirely closed in although a few places need patching. It also needs a nest box, some windows, ventilation vents and perhaps insulating?

    So, with the following in mind, what suggestions do you have for improving this thing?

    *I want to make the coop nice for the birds, but I can't afford to go hog wild. Basic upgrading here.

    *The existing coop is about 6x3 so I'm thinking that will accommodate around 4 chickens? I'd like to have more than 4, and I don't want them to be cramped in, so I am ready to double the size. The run is over 500 square feet.

    *I am not sure why the coop is elevated since in the summer we have trees that provide nearly full shade, and it does not get that hot here.

    *The chickens enter the coop from below, via the ramp under the coop. I had wanted to do a deep litter method because otherwise there would be poop collecting on plywood and that just seems awful! But I'd have to re-structure things to do this because I would need to close off the whole in the floor where the ramp currently connects.

    * We live in a high desert climate--low winter temps average 10s-30s during the coldest months, summers rarely get above the 80s and cool off considerably at night. We have virtually no rain, so water/humidity issues don't really apply to this coop. If we do get a strong rainy season I can tarp overhead the run. Standing water and swamping are never going to happen.

    I am sure there are other things I'm forgetting to add! But in the meantime, any feedback is greatly appreciated! Oh and that's my son trying to crawl into the rabbit cage. There's a rabbit in the coop right now, and I'm hoping he'll be able to stay (with his own housing).

    Thank you!


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    Last edited: Mar 3, 2009
  2. Cara

    Cara Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 30, 2007
    NM
    Lucky you! This is what I would do:

    1. Put hardware cloth around the bottom of the run, the whole way around. If the chicken wire isn't buried, i'd bury the hardware cloth. Unfortunately raccoons can chew through chicken wire alone.

    2. The house should comfortably fit 4 hens, but nobody has 4 hens for long [​IMG] You might think you want 4, but you'll want 8, then 15, and so it goes on. Everyone will want to buy eggs from you, and you'll end up with dozens of hens and still have to buy your own eggs [​IMG] Was it used for chickens, or something else? It seems like the run is huge in comparison to the size of the house, almost as if it was used for gamebirds. Is the bunny living under the house, or was it already sectioned off? If the bunny isn't going to live there, i'd use it as a grow out pen for younger birds, when they're ready to go outside but might get picked on by older birds. My bunny lives with my chickens and they get along great, but he does have a concrete floor underneath so he can't dig out.

    3. Not sure exactly where you are, but here my birds like to roost outside at night for most of the year as it is not cold. You might put some roosts in the run, they can be something as simple as a branch.

    4. The run is very nice, not so sure about the house. Perhaps you could extend it by putting another one on stilts up against it, and a doorway in between the two. Just had a thought about why it's on stilts. Possibly to keep snakes away? Or to allow more foraging area underneath? You could build a very nice extension/new house with pallets for the structure, covered with pro-panel, tin or wood.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2009
  3. midwife mama

    midwife mama Out Of The Brooder

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    39
    Mar 1, 2009
    montana
    Thanks Cara!

    Quote:
     
  4. Cara

    Cara Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 30, 2007
    NM
    I usually leave the door open to the house so they can come and go at will. If the weather is really bad i'll shut them inside, but that's maybe one week a year.

    The stilts might be to stop snakes getting inside the house, although they could climb them if they really wanted. It's not unheard of to have a snake in the nest when collecting eggs. [​IMG] Luckily we've only had bull snakes.

    If the bunny hasn't tried to escape, i'd leave him in there and perhaps make him a house under the hen house. Whatever you make for him, be sure it has easy access because a hen will probably think it's a good spot to lay her eggs!
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
  6. midwife mama

    midwife mama Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 1, 2009
    montana
    Quote:OK, I'm just seeing now that you are in NM. We are near Espanola. Where are you?

    And for the rabbit, do you mean to block off that area under the coop and make a rabbit home in there, and devise another way for the chickens to get up to the coop?
     
  7. Cara

    Cara Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 30, 2007
    NM
    We're not that far away, near Conchas Lake.

    I'd build him a little house, maybe half as wide and half as tall as the space under the house. That being said, my bunny snuggles up with the Silkies at night, but their house isn't raised. Silkies like to sleep on the ground in a heap, like puppies.
     
  8. warmfuzzies

    warmfuzzies Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 15, 2009
    Boondocks, Colorado
    Umm if I were you I would get another coop and keep the rabbit in there.... Just a thought.

    Also, It looks like there is netting on top? So my guess is it was not for chickens, but game birds of some kind, like maybe quail, whick would explain the small house.

    But it looks like it will be great for you! Lucky you!!! [​IMG]
     
  9. CarlaRiggs

    CarlaRiggs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Good morning, Cara ~
    I have my little coop raised because it's easier for me to clean. I don't have to bend over when I clean out the pine shavings. If you'd like, you can remove the ladder and completely close off the floor. The hens can come in through the opening on the side of the coop. It doesn't really get too cold here, either. There is an opening to their run (about 6' x 14') so that they have access 24/7 to come/go from the coop. I don't have to get up early and let them out, and they lay eggs in the coop. I let them free range our backyard about noon until it's time for bed.
    Because your temperatures are pretty mild, you don't really need to be concerned about a larger coop, other than enough room to roost and lay eggs. The hens will have all the room they need in their run. (Some run you've got! [​IMG] )[​IMG] You will need ventilation at the top of the coop; during the summer, and with hens side by side on the roost, the temperature inside will heat up quickly. I have openings on the side of the coop for cross ventilation, also. I've covered these with sturdy hardware cloth, and use shutters to shut them during the cold nights. During the summer I try to keep the coop open, but safe.
    I would be sure to thoroughly check the area so that everything is perfectly protected against any varmints. You want Fort Knox, if you know what I mean.

    Good luck! I think you've got a great set up.

    Carla
     
  10. melgsix

    melgsix Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 23, 2009
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I would say put a second floor under the exsisting house and close it in. With that much runn to fly around they would only be using the hous to sleep. you can put nesting boxes out of their house, just fill them with sand or hay. My girls like to lay their eggs in the sand box so I'll soon be putting a plastic pool filled with sand in their run, as soon as I can find one. They also make nest in the hay in their run, they never lay in the hen houses.
     

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