Please help me sort out some things about my future coop.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Hoover67, Jun 7, 2008.

  1. Hoover67

    Hoover67 Chillin' With My Peeps

    243
    0
    119
    May 31, 2008
    Huntsville
    Here is the situation.... I am getting some eggs to put in my incubator in a couple of weeks, so I am have to start on a coop. I have a garden that was an old clay tennis court (120' x 60') that I spent 5 years digging up the gravel and replacing it with soil. There is a 20' green netting (tight weave) around the tennis court. We live in a neighborhood on about .8 of an acre. I plan on ending up with 6 hens (one for each child) that will supply us with "love" and eggs! Can 6 hens support a family of 8?

    1. My first thought was to predator proof the perimiter of the entire tennis court so the chickens could run free. However, after thinking about it, I really do not want them to kill my plants. Am I correct? Will they kill my plants? I do have a wild rabbit that lives in the garden. Dogs cannot get into the garden. One time in the 8 years living her my DH thought he saw a raccon get into the back yard which has two dogs in it. BTW, I do have two beehives in the garden. Can bees and chickens co-exist?


    2. My second thought was to build a coop and run inside the garden/tennis court. I have enough space that I could build a 6x10' run with a coop above it (6x4 or two 3x4' on each end). Is this a better solution?

    3. My third thought (can you tell, I am really nervous? I don't want to make a mistake!) was to build a larger chicken tractor that we could move around the part of the yard where the dogs cannot get to. I do not know if it is possible to even make a chicken tractor that could house 6 chickens. Can I move a chicken tractor around the yard without them destroying the bermuda grass? BTW, we do not use any herbicides or pesticides.

    I am sorry for all of the questions. Please let me know your thoughts on any of these possibilities!

    Thanks so much. I have hatched chickens in the past for fun experiences for my children but I never considered keeping the chickens until now! I cannot wait!

    Michele
     
  2. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    3,788
    12
    221
    May 24, 2007
    Colorado
    Hi Michele and Welcome to BYC!

    I like your second suggestion the best. I think it would be the safest for your chickens.

    They will almost certainly kill your plants and will need a hen house to keep them safe at night anyway.

    You can build a tractor to house six chickens but it would have to be pretty big to give them enough room. You would need to move it every day or every other day to protect your grass in each area. Plus, you will want more chickens ... it just happens, you can't stop it. So, a tractor just may not be what you want to do. [​IMG]

    You mentioned a raccoon - the bane of the chicken world!! They are one of the hardest predators to keep out. They can easily tear open chicken wire and can reach through pretty much any wire except hardware cloth to grab a chicken and then pull it back through (possibly in pieces).

    I'm glad you're keeping them this time ... we're so gonna get you addicted!! [​IMG]
     
  3. Hoover67

    Hoover67 Chillin' With My Peeps

    243
    0
    119
    May 31, 2008
    Huntsville
    Thanks Chirpy,

    If the chickens were placed in a coop/run inside the tennis netting fence which is inside the fence around the yard, I do think they would be much more safe. We do have two dogs that patrol the yard fence. From what I have read, 60 sq. ft. of run will do for the six chickens. I could expand the run next year but I hate to kill my zucchini this year! Hmmmm. I may need to plan on an expansion. I do not want to put a lot of money into this yet. Our un-enforced neighborhood covenant prohibits poultry as well as sheds that everyone seems to have. Of course, the major city we live within one mile of just legalized chickens (hens only) for backyards. Anyway, I do not think it will be a problem. I feel pretty strongly about raising chickens. My kids are so excited.

    Does anyone else have any suggestions or comments? Would it be best to build an elevated coop 6x4 or two coops 6x2 or I guess 3x4? Would they be happier with one or two choices? I figured I would elevate them about 2'. Part of the area has gravel on the floor. Should I remove the gravel? I guess it would make it easier to clean up if I did!

    Since we are hatching our own. How much handling can the chicks take from the kids?

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

    13,752
    58
    333
    Mar 20, 2008
    NW Kentucky
    I would not put them in the garden area but build a smaller tractor style coop.

    6 chickens (if good layers) could give you 2 - 2.5 dozen eggs per week. How many does your family eat?

    Good luck with the decisions. You will love having the chickens.
     
  5. Hoover67

    Hoover67 Chillin' With My Peeps

    243
    0
    119
    May 31, 2008
    Huntsville
    Another question about location.... the kids and I have built a fort on the outside of the tennis court. I was thinking of putting the coop under that. It is about 6' high. I could put the nests on the side where I could access the eggs. Is this a bad idea? The kids do get up there every now and then.

    Michele
     
  6. GallowayFarms

    GallowayFarms Chillin' With My Peeps

    148
    2
    111
    May 19, 2008
    Under the fort would be a great place to put the nest and such. Since you don't want to spend much money. Put Plywood up around the legs of the fort and you should have a nice little coop and then build the run onto it.

    I think you have yourself a little worked up about the safety of your chicks. Take a deep breath.

    Chicks can be handled a good bit and be fine after the first couple of days. You want to make sure you keep them warm. So don't play with your chicks in the A/C.

    Now about the garden. On the days you are home and working in and around the garden, let your chicks out. They will eat the bugs around the garden and help you till the ground up. The main thing is to keep an eye on them and if they get close to something you don't want eaten shoo them off.

    And once your garden is done for for the season. Let them have at the left over veggies and plants.

    There are great coop ideas on this site in the coop section and also there is a book I really like. http://www.borders.com/online/store/TitleDetail?sku=1580176275 It has tons of plans for smaller coops.

    Good Luck with it all. If you need anymore advice Send me a pm.

    Cheers

    Nick
     
  7. lovemychicks9

    lovemychicks9 Chillin' With My Peeps

    509
    0
    149
    Apr 29, 2008
    South Carolina
    I agree with the building a coop and run as the chickens will leave just about nothing to your garden. A nice coop and run would do nicely. Then you can predator proof your run and keep out the coons if you still have them. You will find that they will provide you with more than just eggs and they will make great compost for your garden too! The enjoyment you get from watching them and loving them is worth much more to me than the anything. You will love having chickens. I warn you ahead of time though---- as any one here will tell you they are addicting and 6 will no doubt turn into to more so make the coop and run a bit bigger! This is the voice of experience talking now--- I only wanted 6 and that grew to 10 and in 2 weeks that will turn to 16 and next spring we are already planning on another 12 to 15. Don't say I didn't warn you, the fuzzy butt fever is VERY contagious! We all have it here at BYC. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    109
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I agree with the other votes for a coop and run inside the tennis court. (Wow, 20' fencing. Too cool. When the garden is done for the year, you can give the chickens some supervised freeranging time if you want, no way will they fly out [​IMG])

    Just to tidy up a couple other loose ends you asked about: a single coop would be better than 2 smaller (chances are they will all mash themselves into one and be too crowded); and I'd leave the gravel there, it will make a good free-draining base that will help keep the run dry and relatively odor-free. It will not hurt the chickens, they can still scratch around in it etc.

    Have fun (it sounds like you are [​IMG]),

    Pat
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by