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Questions for new coop and run

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by robat70, Oct 12, 2012.

  1. robat70

    robat70 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 12, 2012
    Pasadena, CA
    My Coop
    I’m trying to get clear design guidelines for a new coop and run for 4-6 chickens. We’re in Pasadena CA so get hot and dry summers with occasional freezing conditions overnight in the winter. We do have predator problems as well as our own dogs and cats so the chickens will be, for the most part, confined to the coop and run (They may have an occasional supervised play day out in the yard).

    The coop is going to be 16-20 sq ft and 4ft high, with three outside nest boxes attached to the side wall. I’m looking at using sand in coop and hay in the nesting boxes.

    The run will include 18 to 24” of space under the coop and an additional 30-40sq ft, 5-6ft high fully enclosed with 1/2 hardware cloth. Based on comments here, I’ll add sand to the run floor and make plenty of roost space available.

    I’d like to use water nipples under the coop to avoid dripping water inside the coop as some here have done, but wondered if water is needed inside the coop. Do they just go without water overnight or, like we do, traipse down to the “kitchen” for a late night drink? Should the food go under the coop as well or does it need to be inside?

    The chicken area is under an avocado tree which provides afternoon shade. I’m not planning on providing cover for the run other than growing grape vines over the top. Though we live in a near desert, we do get some pretty good rains. Do I need to cover part of the run or will they just go out, at least to water and feed.

    I’m sure there will be more questions especially when we actually get the birds but before cutting lumber I’d like to know that we’re on the right track.
     
  2. coolcanoechic

    coolcanoechic Chillin' With My Peeps

    Welcome to BYC!
    It sounds like a great plan so far. Chcikens can't see in the dark and will not jump down from the roost at night to get a drink of water. I keep a small bowl of water in my coop as I have discovered that the first thing they do when they get up in the morning is head straight for the dish for a drink of water. They also get a bite to eat from the feeder.
    I close the pop door to the coop on cold nights to help keep the temp a little warmer inside, but don't always get out there to open it right away, so a little food and water inside keeps them occupied while they wait to be let out.
    It is really a matter of choice. They will be fine without food and water inside if that is what you want to do.

    It sounds like your girls will have some shelter under the coop, but it is always nice to have a roof over the run. It helps to keep the run dry. You also might consider putting covers over three sides under the coop to use as a wind break. Look at the coops section and find the Wicheta Cabin and you can see some pictures of what I am trying to describe.

    The coops section can give you lots of ideas for your coop design, and it can also be very helpful for when you start to build your project.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 4, 2012
    Northern Colorado
    We keep the food and water in the run. We want to encourage them to only use the coop for sleeping and laying. As coolcanoechic said, they're all but blind at night so once they "go to bed" they just go to sleep. Unless you provide a light, they would have difficulty finding it in the coop anyway. Now, if they're left in the coop much past sunrise, that's a different story...when they wake, they should have water in particular available. We let ours out about 7am, which is when the sun comes up this time of year and they head directly for some grub. We find that not having it in the coop keeps it much cleaner as well.

    We've found that a good space calculation for in the coop is about 4 sq ft per bird. Ours is 20 sq ft and we have 6 chickens...it's a bit cramped and we do have some pecking issues. If we had it to do again, we'd definitely make the coop bigger or the flock smaller. That's another reason we let them out at first light. During the day in their run, they're just fine and only go into the coop to lay. Otherwise, they spend all their time in the run. They have about 80 sq ft there and never get into squabbles...unless I'm handing out meat of any sort...then one grabs a piece and the others chase her trying to take it away...not realizing of course that there's more in the bowl! LOL

    We don't have a big problem with predators, but we do get the occasional hawk, so we put wire on the top of the run for them. The shade will be great since heat is often much harder on them than cold, but do make sure none of the avocados can fall in the run...they're very much "not good" for chickens :)
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    A look at your climate data shows you hardly ever get below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s not cold to chickens as long as they are out of a direct wind. They wear a down jacket all year long. Heat is more of a concern than cold for you. What you need is good ventilation year round. In the winter you need ventilation over their heads when they roost so the moisture and ammonia from their poop and moisture from their breathing can escape. In the summer you need as much ventilation as you can provide. Here are a couple of articles that I think should be required reading for anyone building a coop and run. I’ll even throw in the cold weather coop one but I don’t think you need it.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    Pat’s Cold Coop (winter design) page:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-winter-coop-temperatures

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-fix-a-muddy-run

    Other than ventilation, the best guideline I can give is to build it as big as you can. That’s for both the coop and the run. I find that the more room I give them the less behavioral problems they have, the less hard I have to work, and the more flexibility I have to deal with problems. I’m not going to give you any magic numbers that work for every one because how you manage them determines a whole lot how much you actually need. For example, if you build your run so you are comfortable it is predator proof and you can leave the coop open all the time, the coop portion does not need to be that big. But if you try that and find out it really is not all that predator proof, you’ll need a bigger coop while you are dealing with fixing the run. It’s a bit of a catch-22.

    If you plan on 4 to 6 chickens, plan on 6 and give yourself a little extra room at that. You may at some point want to add new chickens, say when these reduce laying. Extra room makes integration a whole lot easier.

    I’ll mention that most building materials come in 4’ and 8’ dimensions. If you take this into account, you can probably build the coop bigger for practically no extra cost and even less cutting. Be careful to use out-to-out dimensions when you are framing it up, not centerline dimensions, but you can build a 4’ x 8’ for about the same money and maybe even less work than a 3’ x 7’ for example.

    For 6 chickens, you really only need two nest boxes. It won’t hurt to provide more but you can save yourself the work and expense if you desire.

    Give yourself enough room under the coop so you can reach under there if you need to. 18” to 24” should be plenty. You never know when you have to retrieve an egg or a chicken that does not want to be retrieved. Same thing for inside the coop. You need to be able to reach every part of it for cleaning, repair, or modifications as well as retrieval.

    My chickens go out in the rain to forage. They seem to enjoy it. Mine will go out in zero degree weather to forage as long as a really cold wind is not blowing. In bad weather like rain or cold, give them the option. You might be surprised at what they choose to do.

    A wet run can be a stinky run. If you build it out of sand and elevate it so the water can drain out, you should be OK. But pay attention to what Pat said in that muddy run article. You can do the most in fixing a wet run in the design stage. Try to keep water out and give any water that gets in a way to get out.

    Hopefully you can get some benefit out of this. Good luck and welcome to the adventure.
     
  5. coolcanoechic

    coolcanoechic Chillin' With My Peeps

    Ditto! [​IMG]
     
  6. robat70

    robat70 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 12, 2012
    Pasadena, CA
    My Coop
    Thanks for the great comments. I'll definitely go for larger coop and run -- don’t want to do the whole thing over. I had seen another article on this site advocating more open coops for ventilation but was in conflict thinking the coop needed to be more closed and even wondered why people put in windows. Now I’ll build a very open coop with lots of ventilation -- My girls will still have to withstand 100+ weather in the summer, but will be better served by the open wall style ventilation.

    I’ll also take extra precautions for good drainage and probably cover at least some of the run. When we get rain, there’s usually good warning so extra cover can be added while leaving the run more open when weather is good.

    We will probably just leave the coop open at night since it’s fully enclosed and the birds can leave at first light, so, for now, I’ll go with food and water under the coop.

    Thanks again... I feel more confident about moving forward with a design. I’ll post it here for comments later and perhaps document the process in the coops section.
     
  7. robat70

    robat70 Out Of The Brooder

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    22
    Oct 12, 2012
    Pasadena, CA
    My Coop
    Hey Coolcanoechic, just checked out your coop... love the deck!
     
  8. coolcanoechic

    coolcanoechic Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks!
     
  9. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 4, 2012
    Northern Colorado
    We don't get much rain here but when we do, we throw a tarp over about half the run...the part next to the coop. That gives them more space to get out of the rain if they want, but unless it's cold or windy, they don't seem to mind getting wet. I do like to give them the choice though. I also like to have somewhere to put their food so it doesn't get all soggy. Our coop is only about 4 x 5, so even if we put the food under it, it can get wet if it's windy. The tarp is an easy, quick fix for that :)

    More space is never a bad idea, LOL. Chicken math will get ya at some point! Plus the more room they have, the less issue you'll have with pecking and dominance issues. We're limited to 6 birds so even though I want more, I can't have any more, so we won't be having to look at expanding. I do wish now that we'd made the coop a bit bigger...they're okay but we do have some pecking going on and I think an extra foot on either the length or width would make a difference. It's portable though so we wanted to keep the weight down. Live and learn. I tell ya though...when we finally get our dream acreage the dang coop is gonna be bigger than our house! LOL
     
  10. coolcanoechic

    coolcanoechic Chillin' With My Peeps

    Lol [​IMG] I totally agree with that!
     

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