Questions as I build my very first coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Kmac1, Jul 1, 2016.

  1. Kmac1

    Kmac1 ChickenAddict

    May 22, 2016
    Kingfisher, Oklahoma
    I began building my first chicken coop 3 weeks ago+\-, built all 4 walls and stood them up and bolted them together then put the rafters on. It is 14'x7', the walk in door will be on the south side east end. I set 10 4x4 solid oak post 30" in the ground drilled holes through the bottom plate and anchored it down with 10 8 x 1/2" lag bolts. Everything was going fine but had to put it all on hold June 21st when I had a total hip replacement, all is well now and I will get started again next week. I've never built a structure fron scratch much less from scratch by myself. So I'm taking my time making sure I do everything right. While I was recovering in the hospital I read every page on nesting boxes and 1/ of all the cop design pages. My chicken house will face south with the door on the the SE corner, my roosting bars will be on the west end, my nesting boxes on the north wall opposite the door. The south wall will be 8 ft, the north wal 7ft. I have 16 chickens 5 are bantams and10 guineas all the same age, all raised together in the same coop since day one. (1) I want to put in 5 roosting bars, how far apart should they be and how high. (2) where would be the best place to put my vents, up high or down low or both? (3) What is the purpose of hanging the food and water. (4). Should I build a ramp up to the roost bars. I will have 4 nest boxes 12x12x12 should I build smaller ones for the bantams. Thanks Willie
  2. Dmontgomery

    Dmontgomery Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    Apr 1, 2014
    Longville, La
    Roosts: your top roost should be at least 12" away from the wall to give the highest chicken enough room to sit and turn without obstructions. If you are going to stagger the levels, measure 12" down and 12" over to place the next roost, then repeat. Depending on what kind of roofing material you have, give them at least 12" of head room from the highest roost. If you get bigger chickens later on, you may need to expand the distance. If all your roosts are all at the same level, space them 12" apart. Make the roosts the highest point in the coop or else the chickens may choose to sleep/poop somewhere else. The chickens need about a 12" wide space to sleep and move around but will likely all sleep crowded together in the winter.
    Vents: put them up high so the hot air rises and goes out.
    Feeders are hung a few inches off the floor so it is harder for the chickens to scratch it out on the ground and waste it. Waters are hung so they won't get full of dirt or bedding when the chickens scratch around it.
    They will fly up to the roosts. Ladders will just take up more space in the coop, so you don't need them.
    All the chickens are going to try to share the same 1 or 2 nesting boxes. 12"x12" is fine and gives them room enough to not smother each other when 2 want to lay at the same time.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I don’t have much experience with guineas, the only ones I’ve ever been around were a neighbor’s when I was a kid many decades ago. They totally free ranged, slept in trees, and never went into a building of any kind. I’m not sure how guineas will fit in this. But I’ll try your questions.

    (1) I want to put in 5 roosting bars, how far apart should they be and how high.
    The way I determine height of roosting bars is to decide what the floor level will be with bedding, then position the nests. Then I position the roosts noticeably higher than the nests. In a coop your size 12” should be plenty. I generally like them as low as reasonable but still higher than the nests because the higher the roosts the more open space they need to fly up and down so they don’t bang into walls, nests, feeders, or waterers. In a coop your size that’s probably not an issue. For chickens only a general rule of thumb is the 12” separation mentioned above. I’d expect that to work for guineas also.

    For chickens only, many people build ladder roosts, with a roost near the ground and each other one gradually going up and out. A lot of people build them all the same height. Both can work. I’d expect the guineas to be dominant over the chickens, they will sleep wherever they want. The chickens will take second best. I keep getting hung up on the guineas since I don’t know how they will fit into the mix. Have you been on the guinea fowl section of this forum to see what they say about mixing guineas and chickens?

    (2) where would be the best place to put my vents, up high or down low or both?

    In Oklahoma you will have some pretty cold winters and some pretty hot summers, like you are seeing now. In winter you need vents up high so any breezes from your winter storms blows right over the heads of the fowl as they roost. You could write a book about all the whys of this but vents up high allow a good exchange of good air for bad without subjecting them to a direct wind. Your guineas and chickens could probably survive your winter weather sleeping in trees as long as they have the ability to move around and get out of direct winds, much like many of the wild birds do that overwinter. Of course you have predators to consider. They have great ventilation sleeping in trees. Ventilation in winter is important. This is another consideration I setting your roost height. The roosts need to be low enough that winter breezes from your vents pass over their heads.

    The heat of you summer is much more dangerous than your cold in winter. Heat can kill chickens. In summer you need ventilation up high and ventilation down low. A wind hitting them is not a problem. Windows at roost level or below covered with wire for predator protection are great. I also have a large vent area just above the ground level on the cool side of my coop that I can block in winter if I want to. In your summers you can’t have too much ventilation.

    (3) What is the purpose of hanging the food and water.

    You don’t have to hang the food and water, but many people do. I hang my food but water is on platforms built up. As stated above, it’s to reduce the amount of bedding and other trash scratched into them. The general recommendation is to elevate them about the height of their backs.

    (4). Should I build a ramp up to the roost bars.

    If you have Silkies or other chickens that can’t fly, you probably need to build a ramp. If you have extra large chickens, chickens on the big side for their breed, it might not bad a bad idea. Extra large chickens, like those bred for show, can possibly hurt their legs jumping down from roosts. They may have trouble flying up too. But most chickens can easily fly to and from the roosts as long as they have room to spread their wings and fly. If you got yours from a hatchery this should not be a problem. My roosts are 5’ high and my full sized dual purpose chickens have no trouble getting up or down. From watching them they could easily go a lot further.

    I will have 4 nest boxes 12x12x12 should I build smaller ones for the bantams.

    You can build smaller nests if you want. The bantams might or might not use them. The larger chickens might or might not use them. I once used a cat litter bucket with dimensions 7-1/2” x 11-1/2” as a nest. Full sized chickens used it. It worked OK for egg laying but when a broody hen hatched chicks in it, it was too small. The first chicks to hatch climbed up on Mama’s back. When they fell off some missed the nest and went all the way to the floor. I retired that nest.

    12” x 12” will work for the nests. It is generally recommended as a minimum size for chickens, I don’t know about guineas. I built mine 16” x 16” as it was easier because of my stud spacing. I like the extra size when three hens crowd into there to lay at the same time, even with other nests empty. And baby chicks don’t fall out when they hatch. Don’t sweat this kind of detail. Your nests should be fine.

    There are very few hard and fast rules about any of this. We all do these things differently because so many different things work. Try to make it convenient to you. Your chickens and guineas will probably adjust. Good luck on your recovery.
  4. Kmac1

    Kmac1 ChickenAddict

    May 22, 2016
    Kingfisher, Oklahoma
    Thanks Ridgerunner and Montgomery for your detailed replies you have alieviated most if not all of my worries. I will proceed with the construction of my coop implementing your suggestions as I go. I will have plenty of vents for summer and winter. I will install a wind turbine on the top as well. I also plan on insulating the walls and ceiling. Its kinda funny I can overhaul an automatic transmission blindfolded and I have to question how to build a chicken house. Thanks Willie

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