San Antonio Coop Designing


8 Years
Aug 28, 2011
We are knocking around ideas for our first coop and are stuck on "what about the weather". As those who live in the area know, we can be consistently hot during the summer, but can also get fairly cold in winter. When I think about sitting in a wooden structure through a San Antonio summer night or day, I can't help but think it's torture. So my first inclination is to build an open air coop. However, I've also read on these forums that chickens prefer a dark secure place at night.

Also prohibiting the open air coop is the neighborhood feral cat population. I have to shepherd my chicks diligently because the cats are so aggressive. When they would usually scatter at the sight of me, they have no problem with my presence when they have a chicken dinner in their sights. Also, the open air coop would be horrible for the hens in winter. The coop would have to be very sturdy/predator proof.

Besides installing central air (joking), how have the rest of you central/south Texans made your coops comfortable for your chickens?

More info: We live on a larger city lot, but still a city lot. Due to ordinance limits, and to appease the neighbors, we will never have more than three hens. I grew up in Minnesota and have a bit of weather confusion as to how cold San Antonio winters really are.
Do you have a decent-sized run? If so, and as long as there is plenty of shade, they should be OK in the summertime. They won't stay inside during the day anyway--as long as the coop has plenty of ventilation, it should be OK at night, which is when they will be shut in.

Provide LOTS of shade. I would suspect that shade cloth will be your best friend. A misting system in the run wouldn't hurt either--you can do those pretty cheaply.
We actually haven't built anything yet. The chicks (4-5weeks old) reside in a dog crate in my kitchen right now. My builder is out of town, so I'm taking the time while he's gone to figure out what we want. They get to wander the kitchen when we are home and in the evening we take them out to scratch in the yard. They will soon outgrow this arrangement and want to be prepared for my builder's return with materials and plans ready. (Yeah, he's not going to be happy about that.)

I was planning on a 20'x5' run at the minimum. We have a jaunty awkward hill (1' downward slope) at the edge of our backyard along the 6' privacy fence that would be perfect for tucking a chicken run into. We lost our giant shade tree to carpenter ants, but there is one tree that partially shades the area and the privacy fence would provide shade until noonish (inside of fence faces west). The other option would be to tuck the run and coop under the house eaves, but ordinance requires space from housing and the run would stick out into the middle of the yard. The problem with that area (I'll add a pic when I get home from work) is that during heavy rain water flows through the yard and down that hill, but building the coop and run partially on the hill should solve that problem.

Would lattice over the run provide sufficient shade?
Hi from Ga. Your open air coop is dark at night. So that isn't an issue unless you have exterior lights on. so all you have to worry about is protection from weather and predators.



In extreme cold we put up tarps.
You have a great coop and run, thanks for the pictures! What is the beat way to keep out cats?
as long as your coop and run are completely enclosed cats will not be able to get in. We have plenty of feral cats around and they do not even try to get into the coop or run. Now that my girls are grown they free range and no cat even attempts to go for them due to their size. You can see pics of my San Diego coop on my page, of course we have very mild winters so my coop is not insulated or anything for cold weather, but it is great for the heat.
Your run plan sounds good. Make sure it's covered w/ wire. Lattice will help, but shade cloth is better, and you can remove it in the wintertime to allow more sun in to warm things up.
I was looking at your mud proofing. That's going to be a huge deal for us when (or if) the rain comes back. The drought has really done a number on our vegetation, the grass has long since given up. Dust rules right now. I realized having the chicken run on that hill will result in everything flowing into our neighbors pool if (crosses fingers) there is heavy rain. That will definitely not work. We are probably better off putting the coop and run along a different fence.

Ugh. At this rate, they'll be laying eggs in my dish cupboard.

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