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Re-designed coop seems to have confused my chickens...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by artallen84, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. artallen84

    artallen84 New Egg

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    Feb 19, 2013
    I have a small flock of four Sexlinks, 1 is about a year old and the others are 5 months. Since my younger girls are going to lay soon, we decided to "expand" their coop a little bit...

    We originally converted a large doghouse into a coop but has no room for nesting boxes, so we planned on added them later once everyone was laying. So we took the "dog house coop" and propped it on up stilts about 24 inches off the ground, we removed one wall and expanded it to create a nesting area, and moved the door from the front where it originally was and made a large door in the floor for them; approximately 10" x 12" with a ramp leading down to the ground below. We thought this would open up the inside of the coop, giving them more room, and also allow us to keep their food/water outside just underneath the coop.

    They can't figure out how to get OUT of the coop! They can go in with no problem; to roost or lay, but getting back out just doesn't seem to compute. It's been 24 hours, and they all did make it out earlier this morning, but when my 1-yr-old went back inside to lay, she couldn't get back out and just sat on her perch screaming at the top of her lungs. I'm not sure what to do... will they figure it out eventually? Or did we just ruin a perfectly good coop but cutting a hole in the floor? Pics below...



    [​IMG]
    Original design... circa last fall.


    [​IMG]
    View of the inside... those nest boxes aren't there anymore...


    [​IMG]
    You can see how tall we made it here...

    [​IMG]
    The coop on stilts now..


    [​IMG]
    I know the ramp is a little steep, but it that ok??
     
  2. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Westfield, Indiana
    What is the size of your coop/doghouse. It looks a little undersized for 6 chickens. Especially a trap door in the floor utilizing space. Is there enough headroom for the chickens on the roost? Is that front window/screen your only vent or do you have vents under the roof eave. It may get pretty toasty in there during the Summer. You may consider ramping that front door and make a 3 sided cover for the entrance. That will give you more floor space.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Northwest Arkansas
    Chickens don't like change and they have problems with certain concepts. Gates for one. I've seen chickens beat themselves against a fence trying to get back to the coop at night to go to bed when they are pretty close to a gate that they have been going in and out of all day. Eventually they catch on but it sometimes takes a day or two.

    I don’t know what is going on with that hen. From what you said, she obviously made it out once. She should eventually figure it out again. You can either just let her work it out or try moving her down. Either way, she’ll eventually get it.

    I don’t know what you mean by screaming her lungs out. I’d guess she can’t see the other chickens and is calling out to them, asking where they are. If you had a rooster in your flock he’d probably come get her, but yours are hens.
     
  4. artallen84

    artallen84 New Egg

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    Feb 19, 2013
    There are only 4 chickens, not six. And yes, there are vents along the eaves of the roof. For not the windows are plexiglass but we are going to remove the glass in the summer and replace with wire for when it gets hot. I forget the exact dimensions, but it's around 3x3, plenty of headroom, and they spent the majority of their time outside (we haven't finished the new run yet, our "weekend project" is taking longer than expected). Since the coop it primarily used for roosting at night and laying, I didn't think it needed to be huge, and made sure they had plenty of outside space.

    And my red hen always yells after laying an egg, but it seemed a little louder today. Maybe I was just cranky this morning... [​IMG]
     
  5. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Westfield, Indiana
    Ah... Sorry I misread. 4 chickens. 9sf for 4 bird still sounds pretty tight. [​IMG] It is good that they get alot of outside time. [​IMG] It is also good that you have vents at the eaves. It sounds like that are well cared for.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. artallen84

    artallen84 New Egg

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    Feb 19, 2013
    Oh and we did remove that 2x4 inside the coop and replaced it with a round roost, and lowered it a bit for more headroom. I don't have a picture of it, but there is a next box area now attached to the left wall (you can see that plank of wood that overhangs on the left side), so aside from the hole in the floor they have a lot of floor space. We used to keep the food and water inside, now that it's outside, even with the new hole there's more floor space than there used to be.

    And again, the pic with the next boxes inside the coop is outdated; took those out once we realized they took up so much room.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  7. artallen84

    artallen84 New Egg

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    Feb 19, 2013
    I'm not sure what "tight" is though.... they all 4 seem to fit comfortably on the roost at night. And even when it rained or snowed, they didn't look too cramped when they stayed inside to keep dry. I just figured if they're not stepping over each other then they're OK? Still learning... thanks for the feedback. [​IMG]
     
  8. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Westfield, Indiana
    Sounds like you are ok then. The "rule of thumb" is 4sf/chicken. I suppose the hatch door in the floor takes away from your square footage as well. You may very well have around 16sf if you include your new nest boxes. The numbers are just guidelines and it differs with everyones set-up. Yours get out and free range so they don't need a ton of coop space. You mentioned that your water and feeder are not in the coop? Perhaps hanging underneath? That would also give room in the coop. I for sure need a heated water container and a little feed inside the coop during the Winter (blowing and drifting snow).

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    How much space they actually need is a real hard topic to cover. We keep them in so many different circumstances and conditions and manage them in so many different ways, it’s hard to come up with one square foot number. Some commercial operations have proven you can get by with as little as 2 square feet per chicken, but they do things that we generally won’t. Some chickens take confinement much better than others.

    The problems most people think of in tight spaces are behavioral. If they are kept in really close quarters its possible you’ll see fighting, feather picking, or even cannibalism. I find if they are kept in tight quarters I might have to work harder, such as with poop management, or I have less flexibility in handling problems.

    I’m a huge proponent of providing as much space as you reasonably can, but if what you have is working for you, it’s obviously working for you. Each flock has its own dynamics. They are all different. Those can change with the weather too, say a blizzard.

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking only of coop space. In many ways that is irrelevant. It’s how much total space they have when they are awake that counts. It doesn’t matter if that space is coop, coop and run, or free range and they sleep in trees. The key is not how much space is available in the coop, it’s how much total space is available when they are awake.
     
  10. artallen84

    artallen84 New Egg

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    Feb 19, 2013
    Thanks! I was starting to worry... I know we have ample space in the run, where they spend most of their time. And with the weather getting nicer now we're experimenting with letting them range the yard as much as possible.

    I would let them range all the time, but we live in a small suburban area and I don't think my neighbors would appreciate feathered visitors.
     

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