Ready to build a coop, many questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Cupcakus, Jun 2, 2017.

  1. Cupcakus

    Cupcakus Just Hatched

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    Hello,

    I've never had chickens in my life, but we are currently living on a large rural property and it seems ideal, and something I'd like to do, but I have a few questions.

    1. We have tons of space (150 Acres) and no neighbors really, so I could let them just free range without a run, but we do have several predators (Cats, coyotes, hawks, foxes, the occasional car) and they would be unsupervised during the day, so I would probably still need to construct and keep them in a run I would guess?

    2. Where I live our coldest night ever in the winter is about 28F, it never snows here. In the summer it can get as hot as 104F in July for a few days. Do I need to put insulation in the walls of the coup?

    3. I had planned to use a light sensor to open and close the coop door for them automatically, but if they are confined to a run, does the coop even need a door to lock them in?

    4. I see a lot of coops with windows in them, is this just for aesthetics? Are they better off with lots of light? My original plan was just to install some vents.

    Thanks for the help.
     
  2. mrsdee

    mrsdee Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi there! :welcome

    I think most people will tell you that you should have a predator proof run for sure if you want them to free range. I believe that chickens are animals that deserve humane treatment but I will also tell you that my chickens are just that, chickens. I have 2 month old chicks right now, fully feathered but small. I let them free range without a run most of the afternoon and they put themselves to bed as the sun goes down. As they get older and bigger I plan on letting them free range all day, even when I am not home. I don't ever plan on building an expensive, time consuming run unless extensive predator issues arise.

    I don't think you need to put insulation in your coop, especially if it gets that hot during the summer. Many chickens handle cold much better than heat.

    If you do decide to use a run, I would still have a locking door just to make sure they roost in the coop at night instead of in the run or under items in the run just to keep them in the habit of coming back to the coop at night.

    I think windows in coops are both aesthetically pleasing and serve a ventilation purpose. I would always opt for more ventilation over less thinking the chickens will get cold. Like I stated earlier, most chickens handle cold better than heat. Extra ventilation keeps airflow going to cool the coop but also move ammonia and dust filled air out of the coop.

    I think the main things are making sure your coop is secure and you pick the right breeds for your climate! Good luck! :thumbsup
     
  3. AllynTal

    AllynTal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 22, 2014
    Mississippi Gulf Coast
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    1. It depends. I let mine free-range all day everyday. I realize that I may lose some to predators. My chickens are intended to be food, but I'm planning on them being my food, so if a predator takes an interest in my flock, I have action plans. Predators are always a concern even if the chickens are in a run. It's your call on how proactive you want to be as far as predators are concerned. I would recommend having a run even if it is just to contain the chickens while you wait for a predator to move on. The predator will hang around if he can keep finding food. He'll move on if the buffet closes.

    2. No. The coop needs to be dry and draft-free, but not insulated. Insulated implies that it is air-tight. You want LOTS of ventilation to remove moisture and ammonia. Think soffits, vents and windows covered with hardware cloth with perhaps a temporary cover as needed to keep rain out. It sounds like you live in a climate similar to mine. No insulation, but think about doing a roof-over to keep the coop from turning into an oven in the summer.

    3. It is easier to predator-proof a coop than it is to predator-proof a run. Keep in mind that whatever you think is predator-proof, isn't. It takes a lot of work and planning to make a run reasonably predator-proof, which is why lots of folks have a run, but lock the birds in the coop at night for safety.

    4. Vents. . vents. . .and more vents. See No. 2. Dry, draft-free and LOTS of ventilation. Ridge vents, soffit vents, gable vents....stop the sheathing about 4 to 6 inches from the top of the wall under the overhangs and cover it securely with hardware cloth (NOT chicken wire).
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2017
    Ol Grey Mare likes this.
  4. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Agreed on all points.

    Regarding the run, even when the plan is to free range a run is handy to have as there are times confining is needed and that is not when you want to be scrambling to build one.
     
  5. AllynTal

    AllynTal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    And just to add a little more about predator-proofness: using 2-inch x 4-inch mesh welded wire to cover the run is NOT predator proof. That 2"x4" opening is plenty big enough to let in a predator large enough to decimate your flock. I watched (and can probably still find the link for) a video showing a full-grown mink, which in North America is larger than a weasel, scamper right through a 1-inch slit. Raccoons can also fit through amazingly small spaces and that 2x4 mesh wire wouldn't be a hinderance. The first thing to realize in predator-proofing a run is that it needs the entire thing covered in no-bigger-than 1/2-inch hardware cloth. It makes me want to cry when I see people claim their coop and run is predator proof but they're using 2x4 mesh wire and/or chicken wire.
     
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  6. Doc Schoepp

    Doc Schoepp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think the biggest thing is that there is no true 'predator proof' coop or run. What you are trying to do is deter and frustrate them into going for an easier food source. Your two main predator sources will be from the air and from the ground. Air is the easier of the two in my opinion. Giving your chickens some source of cover, either fully shielded like a roof or lean-to to hide under or some kind of lightweight fencing/netting pretty much stops aerial predators.

    Ground predators are a little harder. Not sure your exact area (putting a general area under profile can help give area specific recommendations) but from the temperature range I would guess snakes could also be an issue. If you will be locking them up at night you can get away with a little less than Fort Knox. Mine is a chainlink fence with 2x4 wire fencing as a 'roof.' Along the bottom 2ish feet I have hardware cloth to deter digging and pulling at the bottom. I had an issue where after we had set up the chainlink fencing originally something pulled the wire up from the ground (guessing a raccoon).

    A good idea I saw someone else post about if you can do it would be to set up the run fully and then put out some kind of food (I think they used a can of cat food) in to coop and try to bait something to come in. If you have a camera would also be a good way to actually see how your local predators think/plan. Some things you wont know until an animal tries to get in.
     

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